By Kristina Russo | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
4 Min Read | December 20, 2019 in Travel
Travel is going to the dogs…literally.
More than half of U.S. pet owners are likely to travel with their dogs and other furry companions when they hit the road, according to a recent TripAdvisor survey.1 To meet their needs, the hospitality industry has become more pet-friendly, but traveling with pets remains complicated and costly.
Here are some tips to help you manage the rules and, especially, the costs for the next time you set off on an adventure with one of man’s (or woman’s) best friends.
More than two million pets and other live animals travel by air each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.2 Each airline has its own pet travel policy that adheres to parameters set by the Federal Animal Welfare Act. Those regulations have become more restrictive recently and can impact your travel budget.
The cost to fly your dog. Where your pet rides impacts your cost. There are two classes of airline carriage for dogs and other pets, determined mostly by size: cabin and cargo. Expect to pay more for pets that fly as cargo.
But wait! There’s more cost. Besides the dog’s or other pet’s “fare,” there will be ancillary costs. For example:
Keep in mind that pet requirements on international flights can be even more complex and, in turn, more costly. And by the way: You can’t buy an airline seat for your pet, even if you want to.
On the plus side, certain airlines will grant your pet loyalty rewards for travel.
Service dogs and emotional-support animals aren’t subject to the same costs and requirements as pets. However, that may be changing, at least slightly. A recent sharp rise in the number of service animals on planes has caused increasing concern about fraud and the safety of passengers and flight attendants. Government regulators are developing guidelines to address these concerns, spurring airlines to revisit their policies as well. Contact your airline for its most up-to-date policy and requirements.
Pet-friendly accommodations are a growing trend in the hospitality industry, whether at budget motels, B&Bs, or luxury hotels. To find the best lodging for you and your pet, you can consult lists and rankings on specialty pet websites, as well as features on popular travel booking sites.
The cost to room with your dog. While there are a handful of popular “pets stay free” hotels, most hotels and rental homes charge an extra fee. Sometimes they charge for pets per visit, but most often it’s on a nightly basis, ranging from $20 to $100.10 Fees may differ by location within chains. Individual owners set the fees for the homes they rent on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO, so there may be room for negotiation.
Beyond their per-night or per-stay fees, even pet-friendly hotels may charge incremental cleaning fees for any pet accidents as well as room-damage fees. Similarly, rental homes may require a higher security deposit in case of pet-related damage.
Because pet policies can differ within a hotel chain, experts suggest having multiple travel reward credit cards to broaden your options.11
Bringing your pet with you when you travel will add costs. Policies and rates can vary significantly by provider or location, so you’ll want to do your research and budget accordingly.
2 “Plane Talk: Traveling with Animals,” U.S. Department of Transportation
3 “Jet Set Pet: Flying the Pet-Friendly Skies,” Pet Plan
5 “Taking a Vacation With Your Dog May Cost More Than You Realize,” Consumer Reports
6 “New Rules of Flying With Your Pet,” Consumer Reports
8 “Jet Set Pet: Flying the Pet-Friendly Skies,” Pet Plan
9 “A Comprehensive Guide to Traveling with Pets,” The Points Guy
10 “Here’s How Much It Really Costs to Travel With Your Dog,” Travel + Leisure
11 “How to Make Traveling With Your Pet Affordable,” NerdWallet