BY KIM SALERNO | FEBRUARY 12, 2014
Pet travel on a budget
Cabin fever is upon us so we are taking the time to make those fun vacation plans for the whole family, including our furry best friends. We're all keeping an eye on our finances these days and looking for ways to stretch our dollars. It can be a bit more challenging to make pet travel more economical when considering transportation and places to stay, so here are a few helpful hints for the budget-conscious.
Pet Friendly Transportation
Traveling in your own vehicle is obviously the most affordable way to go, and you don't even have to venture very far from home to find a great vacation spot to save on both gas and time. Since we know how important it is to take the proper automobile safety precautions, make sure you have everything you need to keep your pet safe when traveling.
If traveling in your own vehicle (or a rental) is absolutely out of the question, unfortunately buses and trains do not allow you to bring your pet aboard. Get ready to fly the friendly skies in order to get to your destination with Fido. Most major airlines allow pets either carried on or checked for below-the-cabin travel. Your cheapest options for flying are AirTran ($69 one way), Southwest ($95 one way), or JetBlue, Spirit, and US Airways (each of them charge $100 one way). Delta and United come in with more pricey pet fare fees. Delta ($125 carried on/$200 checked one way) and United ($125 carried on/$250 checked one way).
Pet Friendly Hotels
Luckily, more and more hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and even condos are allowing us pet lovers to bring our four-legged family members with us. When trying to get more bang for your buck on the vacation front, it's very important to do your research on where you will be able to stay and what their current rates are for pets.
A great alternative for many families with pets is a vacation rental, condo, or cabin. These properties tend to have lower weekly rates when compared to the daily charges of hotels and motels, and it can be more like a home away from home - for you and your pet. You can save even more money by bringing your own groceries and food for the duration, rather than eating out for every meal.
If you're looking at pet friendly hotels, there are some with very reasonable fees and others that are a little harder on the ole' bank account. Some great chains with low rates AND low pet fees include: Best Western, Comfort Inn & Comfort Suites, Doubletree, Econo Lodge, Embassy Suites, Quality Inn, and Mariott Hotels & Resorts. This is definitely not an exhaustive list and you can certainly find a slew of pet friendly hotels and properties with low rates and pet fees on our site.
Take very special care to abide by the rules of the property you're staying in and make sure dear Fido is properly groomed and de-flead before you travel; or it may cost you! Some places do not allow pets on the furniture or in the beds. It's always best to bring their pet bed as well as something to cover the furniture with for good measure. If Fido leaves behind a mess of pet hair and fleas, you may be charged a hefty cleaning fee - not to mention showing a complete disregard for good pet etiquette when staying at pet friendly accommodations.
Pet Friendly Activities
Let's face it. We want to spoil our pets just as much as we want to spoil our family and friends. When traveling to a new and exciting place, you're likely to find some really cool pet friendly spots like grooming boutiques and shops filled with toys and clothes just for them. If you're looking to cut back, why not give your pet the best gift of all? You know Fido would ask you to take him on more walks if he could. Plan ahead and locate dog parks, walking areas, and hiking trails that are available on your trip. These are free and fun activities that everyone can enjoy and bond you all even closer to your beloved furry friend. (Don't forget to prepare for these outdoor adventures!). If you've opted to vacation at a rental property, you'll most likely have these activities right at your doorstep: the beach, the lake, the mountains, the woods, etc. Make the most of your natural surroundings.
Just because you're tightening your wallet doesn't mean you have to cut back on family fun! TripsWithPets.com provides a wealth of information on making it easy to travel with your pet so you don't have to leave him behind.
Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of www.TripsWithPets.com.