Making travel plans for your family (or any group) can be difficult and time-consuming, but when your travel party includes one or more pets, the degree of planning difficulty can seem Herculean. While you consider your pets valued family members, worthy of top-notch treatment, many travel providers, hotels, and even rental-car agencies regard them as nuisances at best and as the animal equivalent of personae non gratae at worst. As a result, the cost of traveling with your pets might seem so high that you begin to question the very idea of traveling with your pet. Fear not, though: Below are a few tips to help you save money when you travel with your pets.
Hit the Road
We mean that (somewhat) literally. Traveling by car is one of the surest ways to save on long-distance travel with pets. You and your pet are presumably already familiar with road trip guidelines, and it’s easy to find a place to park and deal with urgent needs, which you can’t do in airports, planes, or trains.
Beyond that, airlines aren’t required to let pets fly, and those that do sometimes charge such exorbitant fees that you may be tempted to buy Fido his own ticket. There are also a variety of federal regulations, on top of the individual carrier’s policies, that you must follow when flying with a pet.
Perhaps incredibly, trains are less pet-friendly than airlines. Unless your pet is a service animal, it can’t enjoy passage on Amtrak, even if it’s a search-and-rescue dog. Some city-specific train systems (e.g., Metro-North, which offers service to the north of New York City) allow small, controlled pets onboard, but that policy is of little use if pets can’t accompany their owners to those destinations.
Take Your Own Wheels
Most rental-car agencies allow their customers to take pets along as passengers, but some locations can be more restrictive. However, if your pet has an accident (or simply sheds an excessive amount of fur), you’ll be liable for a cleaning charge.
Find the Right Nest
Thankfully, hotels in recent years have become much more obliging to pet owners (and pets) than transportation providers, and identifying pet-friendly hotels can be done via simple online searches. Certain hotels charge a pet fee (including a non-refundable deposit), though; to find the most affordable accommodations, be sure to inquire about the full cost of your pet’s stay before booking a room. Once you arrive, just keep in mind the proper etiquette for visiting pets.
Join Travel Plus
Wherever you and your pet(s) go across the United States, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations when you make them through Travel Plus. You can also claim rebates on all sorts of travel extras, from in-flight meals and entertainment to hotel perks, rental-car extras, and Wi-Fi service anywhere. When you vacation with your pets, make sure you know and follow the rules of the road — and travel safely!