Asking a friend to stop by frequently to check in on your pet could be an easy way to avoid boarding your pet. This alternative works best with cats because they don't need the same level of upkeep as dogs. You could have a friend stop by once a day to feed your cat and take care of the litter box.
A dog can be a bit trickier because some dogs require frequent walking and need a bit more attention than cats. Some breeds of dogs might need a more vigorous walking routine than a friend could provide when he or she is just checking in for a few minutes at a time. However, if you've got a pretty mellow dog, and you're only going away for a short period of time -- say, two days -- your pooch should be just fine if a friend stops by two or three times a day.