Affordable Travel With Pets

October 5, 2011

Sonny What to do with your dog when on a trip?    If they’re small enough, do you take them with you?  What will it cost to have them cared for in your absence?

I’m going to be travelling a bit this month and was a bit worried about what to do with my pug, Ralph while away- and of course, how much it would cost for good care.  What’s a frugal pet lover to do? 


Keeping Your Pet At Home:

Kenneling/Doggie day care (with or without overnight stays) can cost upward of $40 a day- ($280 a week).

Home visits to walk/feed your pet cost $15-$20 per visit or more  ($180 for a week).

Budgets are important, but also take into consideration the demeanor of your pet if possible!  If your pet is uncomfortable in new places or with crowds, while home visits can be pricey (and you have to make sure you trust others with your key) this might be your best bet instead of kenneling.

Of course- if you have a friend or neighbor who will watch your animal in exchange for a smaller amount of compensation or a decent favor- that is your best option to save money.  Your pet might miss you, but still might be more comfortable with a familiar face or staying at home with a caregiver.


Tip:  If you don’t know anyone that can watch your pets, try pet care swapping with a fellow dog lover by making connections on or asking your vet or groomer for leads.


Taking Pets With You:

Besides worrying about the stress of travel (for both you and your fuzzy companion) traveling with pets is usually expensive and sometimes impossible!  Most buses and trains don’t allow animals at all unless they’re trained assistance animals, and many planes don’t allow animals in the cabin of the plane.

When you book your flight, you typically need to decide if your pet will be accompanying you when you book your reservations.   Many pet advocates including the Humane Society advise against traveling with your pet unless absolutely necessary, especially if animals are kept in the cargo hold.  Extreme temperatures, lack of fresh air, and rough handling could cause harm or kill your animal, and the airline may not be held liable!

By far- the best rate I’ve found is through Southwest Airlines.  If your pet is small enough to fit in a standard carrier which is sized for airline travel, pets can hang out under your seat as a carry-on.  Pet rates are $75 each way (plus the cost of a carrier if you don’t have one), and if your pet is small enough and a trip is feasible (meaning, it’s not a long flight and your pet won’t be overly stressed by travel) this might be an option.  More information is available here.

Additionally, travelling with pets also depends on where you’re staying and your mode of transportation.  Plan ahead to ensure your accommodations allow pets and that you aren’t being overcharged if other hotels or car rental services might be more pet-friendly and work with you for competitive rates.


Cost is important when it comes to caring for a pet (as a girl on a budget, I know!) but it’s more important to consider what’s best for your pet in terms of their health and demeanor when making your vacation plans.  If your pet is easily distressed by unfamiliar situations,  panics when crated, if you’re travelling during extreme temperatures, or if your vacation means the pet would be largely ignored- do not take them with you (yes, even if it’s cheaper overall)!


Do you have any tips?  What are your best tips to save money on pet care when you travel?

12 comments so far.

12 responses to “Affordable Travel With Pets”

  1. Michelle says:

    My family has worked in the airline business for a long time. My tip is that whatever you can do, DO NOT DO NOT put your animal in with the cargo. Your animal will most likely die. Whenever the airlines say they "lose" animals, it just means that it got too hot and they died.

  2. Ryan says:

    haha, that picture made me laugh really loud… thanks, I could use some cheering up today 🙁

  3. Kellen says:

    I have thought it would be nice to move to Europe for a year or two and work there at some point, but I just cannot see myself putting my dog in the Cargo hold for any flight, nevermind one that long. After Michelle's comment, I'm even more convinced. On cross-country trips, there are services that will drive your pet for you – I'm not sure how much I'd trust these people, since the more dogs they can pack into one truck, the more money they will make.
    I think if you can bring your pet in a carry-on, that could be the best, but I bet it's a pain if your flight is delayed a couple of hours and you need to find a place for your dog to pee.
    My best bet is to find an at-home pet sitter you feel comfortable with, and pay them well! 🙂

  4. Romina says:

    We kenneled Duncan for about a week & eventhough the facility was very clean ( we triple checked) he still caught kennel cough. Last year, we drove from OH to NH in one day and we got a sedative for him (from the vet). He gets very anxious in the car & cries. The sedative helped a lot, but he did walk like a drunk old man at rest stops. 😉

    I think getting a petsitter is a good idea if you cant take your pet with you. A good site to try is, see if someone in your area offers services.

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  6. Evan says:

    I use family and friends to take care of our little dog…but I recently heard of a program where you bring your dog to someone's house who also has a dog. It is like a temp-foster plan. Not cheap but cool option

  7. apockylypse says:

    I always get a close friend or relative to hang out with my furbabies when we go on vacations. With a beagle that suffers from separation anxiety [& hates car rides], it's the best choice for us.

    We are talking about moving in a few years & that will be an adventure with our beagle.

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  12. Samantha Grey says:

    Southwest Airlines rocks! They have the best service for pet lovers. They actually have the best service overall! Herb Kelleher is a rockstar for creating that excellent culture in SWA.


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