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How much does it cost to travel with a dog? The cost of two recent trips

So how much does it cost to travel with a dog? There are as many answers as there are travelers — someone traveling cross-country by car will have one answer, someone traveling by RV will have another. A traveler on a tight budget will have a third, and so on. That said, I thought it might be helpful to share with you the costs of a couple of trips I took recently, focusing on how much I spent to bring Chloe with me and comparing those costs to the cost of leaving her at home, in someone else’s care.

It’ll help you to know that I’m a luxury-loving traveler, but I have my limits. I’m typically willing to spend between $100 and $250 a night on a hotel, which puts me in hotels like Hampton Inn & Suites (on the lower end) and the Kimpton Group (on the upper end). I will not sneer at a La Quinta, and on a special occasion I will splash out on a fab hotel. Similarly, I will pay more for extra legroom on a domestic flight, when it’s offered (typically, Economy Plus on United), and I will save my miles until I can afford a business-class ticket for international travel, but otherwise, I’m an Economy kind of gal.

A weekend trip from Seattle to San Francisco

My most recent trip was a weekend trip (Saturday to Monday) from Seattle to San Francisco. I flew on Virgin America, and I stayed at a Kimpton hotel on the waterfront. The cost of bringing Chloe with me was $296, broken down as follows:

Virgin America pet fee (in-cabin): $200 ($100 each way)
Health certificate: $96 ($68 for the exam, $27.85 for the certificate) [3/9/12 Virgin America no longer requires a health certificate]

There were no other pet-related costs, since the Kimpton hotels do not have a pet fee.

If I had left Chloe behind, I would have either had to hire a petsitter or leave her in a kennel. Here, too, personal preference and budget plays a part — you can find kennels and petsitters in all price ranges. I might consider leaving Chloe with Seattle’s Downtown Dog Lounge, which charges $44 per night (for stays under seven nights). I’d be more likely to have the folks at Little Furry Things stay in the house and walk her three times — the third walk is extra, so I’d be spending $70 a day plus $20 for the extra walk.

My costs for leaving Chloe at home last weekend, therefore, would be either $132 (I returned home too late to pick her up on Monday, so she’d have spent three days at the Downtown Dog Lounge) or about $200 (depending on how much Little Furry Things charged for an extra walk on Saturday, and an evening visit on Monday).

A three-week car trip around New England

My previous trip was a three-week driving trip with Chloe around New England. I stayed in three hotels, but otherwise slept in friends’ guest rooms (thank you, dear friends!). I flew to Manchester, N.H. on Southwest, and returned to Seattle from NYC on JetBlue. The cost of bringing Chloe with me was $341, broken down as follows:

Southwest pet fee (in-cabin): $75
JetBlue pet fee (in-cabin): $100
Health certificate: $96
Hampton Inn (Nashua, NH) pet fee: $50
Cassio Pet Resort daycare fee (see below): $20

Neither the Hotel Marlowe, a Kimpton hotel in Cambridge, MA, nor the Inn at Saratoga, in Saratoga, NY, charged a pet fee. There was no fee for taking Chloe on the Metro-North trains, and it did not cost anything to bring her with us on the New York City metro. We left Chloe at the Cassio Pet Resort in Newtown, CT one Sunday afternoon, when we could not bring her with us to an appointment.

The cost of leaving Chloe at home would have been either $840 (the rate at the Downtown Dog Lounge drops to $40 per night for stays longer than a week) or $1890 (the Little Furry Things site doesn’t mention a discount for longer stays).

Your results may be different, as I said — you, indeed, may have friends or family who will petsit or housesit for free. But these two trips show that while a weekend trip with a pet dog can be pricey (I essentially paid $100 for the pleasure of Chloe’s company), bringing your dog with you on a longer trip may actually save a significant amount of money. I’m not counting, of course, the “cost” of leaving Chloe behind, and worrying about her well-being, nor am I counting the benefit of having her with me — I’m just talking dollars and cents.

See all posts about: Scraps


  • Patty

    We’re getting a bit tired of this $100 pet fee, to be honest. We’re making a trip with many legs – Nassau to Toronto to Ottawa, Ottawa to Edmonton, Edmonton to Victoria, Victoria to Toronto, Toronto to Nassau and in the middle somewhere, Victoria to LAX.

    What exactly does the airline DO for their $100 every time? Do they provide the dog with a snack? No. Food? No. Water? Not really. A pillow and blankie? Nope.

    So for our $600 – we have the honour and pleasure of watching our beloved Truffles face staring back at us from her carrier. That’s it!


  • I hear you, Patty. Even if an airline’s goal with an in-cabin pet fee is to make money and discourage pet travel (those are my best guesses for the in-cabin fee!), it seems like a customer who’s making such a complicated trip should be cut a $$ break.

  • [email protected]

    Great info! I had a hunch that taking your pet would be either cost neutral or save you a few bucks, but I didn’t have any evidence. For us, having the boys along rarely results in any increased costs. Once in a while an RV park will charge an additional pet fee, but it’s always very minimal (between $1 and $5 extra).The joy of having them is us is, as they say, priceless.

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