When it comes to planning a vacation, figuring out your airfare and hotel costs usually comes first. In fact, travelers often base their travel schedules around the best deals available. But, if you're a pet owner, there's a travel cost you don't want to overlook: pet care. Our furry friends need accommodations, too.
Perhaps you're lucky enough to have friends or family pet-sit for free, but often pet owners must look (and pay) for professional help when they go out of town. Depending on how comfortable you are with strangers in your home, you can either have a dog walker stop by to walk your pet a few times a day, or you can pay someone to stay and keep your pet entertained overnight. Some pet sitters prefer that you drop your pet off at their home instead, and of course pet hotels and boarding facilities are a popular option for travelers with pets.
According to care.com, the average cost of boarding a pet can cost you $20-25 per day. Pet hotels cost more but offer more luxuries and can range from $35-90 a day for each pet. The average cost of a dog walker is $10-25 for each dog, and Pet Sitters International's 2014 State of the Industry Survey indicates that the average for a 31-minute dog-walking visit is $18.23. Overnight visits average $62.18 per night.
Last year I planned an 11-day vacation and needed reliable pet care. I used Thumbtack to look for dog sitters in my area, and since it was a longer trip, I wanted my two dogs to stay at home instead of at a boarding facility. On Thumbtack, you submit your request (days needed, amount to be paid) and professionals respond with their bids. You can read your potential sitters bios and reviews (if any), and choose the best one for you. Care.com and Yelp are also great resources to utilize that feature reviews for pet-sitters, too. I finally decided on a Thumbtack sitter who bid $20 a day for two dogs to be walked for 30 minutes (you can also get your plants watered and mail checked). By contrast, dog boarding for two dogs would have cost $40 a day in a shared indoor/outdoor facility, not including added play time and other optional services.
Up in the Air
If you want your pet to travel with you and you're flying, you'll have to research airlines that accommodate pets to find out their policies. For example, United, American and Delta allow an in-cabin pet as an extra carry-on subject to a $125 service charge each way in the U.S., except Hawaii, and the kennel must fit into the seat in front of you. Spirit also allows in-cabin pets for $110, and you can fly with your pet for $100 each way on JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. According to their websites, American Airlines, Spirit and Southwest do not accept checked pets. Southwest charges $95 per pet one way on domestic flights only. Another cost to consider is acquiring an airline-approved pet carrier for the flight (most airlines only accept smaller pets in the cabin. Also, these fees do not apply to service animals).
Road trips are easier to plan, but you'll still need to find pet-friendly lodging. Websites like bringfido.com and officialpethotels.com are both great resources that make it easy to find a place to stay with your furry companion. With a bit of planning, pet owners can enjoy a vacation without worrying about their pet's well-being.
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