No matter what kind of pet or pets you have, it's important to get someone who will know how to take care of the type of animals you have. While it might be easier to leave your pets with the next door neighbor or the kid down the street, you should think about your animals well being and make sure you find someone who will be able to handle an emergency situation if one arises.
For animals like dogs, cats and birds there are kennels that have very good services and well trained people to look after your pets. If you don't know the best kennels to take your pets to, you can always ask the local humane society or if you are involved in online forums for your particular pet, you could ask there. Or you can hire a family member or family friend to take care of your pet while you are gone.
For exotic animals like, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils there are local and online rescue sites that cater to individual animal species. A rat rescue would be the ideal place to get information on rat sitters just as a hamster rescue would be to find ideal hamster sitters and so on.
If you decide to have neighbors or family members watching your animals, always make sure to have a check list with veterinarians phone numbers, an emergency phone number to contact you as well as any important information such as medications, allergies, foods to avoid etc. Ask the pet sitter if they are willing to take the pet to a veterinarians office if they become sick and if the answer is no, find another sitter.
Make sure to go over the check list with the pet sitter before you leave and ask questions to make sure they understand what to do in case of an emergency or how to give medications and how to feed and care for the animal.
You should make sure to provide all necessary supplies such as food, treats, leashes, bedding, medicine, toys, extra water bottles (in case your rat or hamster chews through one) and any other supplies you want the sitter to use.
In the case of dogs, make sure to tell them how often they should be walking them and feeding them. For cats, let them know how often to clean the litter box and for small animals such as rats, hamsters and gerbils let the sitter know how often to clean the cage, supply food and change the water.
If you cannot find someone who is knowledgeable about your particular type of pet and are going to be leaving your animal with someone inexperienced with your animals, be sure to show them the basics before you leave. How to care for your pet including things like cleaning up after dogs on a walk, cleaning cages, preparing food, giving medicine, how to handle small animals and refill a water bottle and put it back in the right place.
Finding someone who isn't afraid of your animals is a very necessary part of finding a great pet sitter as well. You wouldn't want someone who is afraid of cats watching your kitty for a week while you are gone or someone afraid to handle your rats or hamsters while they are in their care. Always have them pet, pick up or handle the pet they are going to watch. If it looks like they are afraid or wanting to avoid contact you should find someone else.
When you do find a good pet sitter, you can leave them in their care with out being stressed out or having your animals stressed out.