How Much Does Traveling With Your Pet Cost?

Amanda Garland
Photo byAuthor - Amanda Garland

I recently embarked on a family road trip, and we decided to bring the pooch along. She is 14 years old now, and it felt unfair to board her for the 10 days that we would be gone. Plus, by taking her with us, we'd save money, right?

Wrong. Traveling with a pet, it turns out, is actually rather expensive.

Preparing for The Trip

A week before we headed out, I rummaged through the garage and found our old bulky metal-wire kennel was falling apart. So, I bought a new one.

The new lightweight cloth kennel set me back $80.

I also got a set of waterproof blankets. My thought was if she has an accident in the kennel, I do not want to pay a fine to clean the hotel room carpet. The set of 2 set me back another $20.

I also picked up a fresh bag of dog food and a bag of treats (kennel bribes) for another $20.

Hotel Availability

Guess what, not all hotels welcome pets. This required me to do a great deal of research before we left and to carefully plan out each of our stops.

Luckily we were staying on hotel points, so even with restricted availability, I was usually able to find something.

The exception was Gatlinburg, TN. We wanted to spend 2 nights within walking distance or trolley distance of downtown. And the only stay-on-points option was not dog-friendly. I searched and searched for any way to save some money and finally found an old, beat-up sketchy Ramada for $150. The location was great, though.

Pet Fees

Even the hotels that allowed pets didn't welcome them for free. Each and every single one of them charged a pet fee. Some were reasonable, while others seemed exorbitant. Fees ranged from $25 up to $100. And considering we stayed at 5 different hotels over the course of our trip, we really racked up the fees.

The final pet fee total came to $250.

Would It Have Been Cheaper to Board the Dog?

The final total spent on the dog for our road trip surpassed $500.

  • $100 - new kennel & pee-proof blankets
  • $20 - new food and treats
  • $150 - pet-friendly hotel Gatlinburg
  • $250 - pet fees

So what would the cost have been to board her? The average cost for dog boarding is $40 a day. For our full 10-day trip, this would have cost us $400.

This means that boarding the dog would have cost us over $100 less. So, as it turns out, taking the dog with us actually cost us more money. And our dog's constant stressed-out whining prevented everyone from getting a good night's sleep.

Would I take the dog on another road trip again? Definitely not.

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A Texan and new mom, writing about things I am most passionate about; personal finance, parenting, and the events that shape Texas.

Dallas, TX

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