Pets make our lives wonderful in a multitude of ways, but they can make traveling complicated. It doesn’t need to be that way: Taking a trip with (or without) your furry friend may take a little extra planning and work, but it can be done without breaking the bank.
IF YOU’RE TRAVELING WITH YOUR PET
Bringing your dog or cat along on a road trip can mean new and fun adventures for both of you, especially if you’re prepared.
Stay at a hotel with no pet fee
Many hotels these days allow pets—as long as you’re willing to pay a per-night or per-stay fee. Keep the costs down by choosing a hotel where pets stay free. Several chains offer this perk, including budget hotels such as Red Roof Inn (remember your NEA member discount!), La Quinta Inns & Suites, Motel 6 and high-end option Kimpton Hotels. Call ahead to confirm, and be sure to ask if any other perks are offered. Kimpton, for example, is known for providing food and water dishes and a bed for pups.
Be thorough with your packing list
Spending some time on your pet packing list pre-trip could save you money later. You’ll want to bring safety items like crates and leashes as well as daily necessities like food, favorite toys, medications and the comfy bed your pet is used to. If you forget an important item, you’ll have to pick it up along the way and that will be an added expense.
Search for discount codes for gear you need
If you’re not used to traveling with your pet, you might need some extra gear. Things like crates or carriers, a car seat so a smaller dog can see out the window and harnesses all make for a safer trip. If you don’t already have these items, search for discount codes at websites like RetailMeNot to see if any stores that sell pet products have a code you can use.
Consider pet insurance
There’s nothing scarier than the thought of your pet getting sick when you’re far from home. The NEA Pet Insurance Program, provided by PetsBest, makes sure you’re always covered so you don’t have to worry about the cost of care. You can visit any licensed veterinarian in the country—or the world. Depending on the plan you choose, PetsBest reimburses much of the cost for many medical procedures, such as X-rays, exams and surgery. You can even take a photo of your receipt and submit your claim online. And NEA members receive a 5% discount.
Avoid fees for pet damage in hotel rooms
Even pet-friendly hotels have their limits when it comes to excessive shedding, drooling and especially chewing on furniture. Avoid damage fees by keeping a close eye on your pet while you’re in your room, and if they’re used to being in a crate at home, consider crating them if you need to leave them alone. It’s also a good idea to bring extra blankets and towels to protect the hotel’s furniture. You may also want to bring a supply of your own food—sometimes a change to the hotel’s food (even if it is a cute “room service for pets” menu) can cause an upset tummy and, thus, in-room damage.
IF YOU’RE LEAVING YOUR PET AT HOME…
If your vacation destination isn’t pet-friendly and you need to leave your furry friend at home, you do have options for care. Here’s what to consider.
Shop around for boarding facilities
You may already have a go-to place for your pet, but if you’re new to boarding, make sure you start planning well in advance of your trip. That will give you time to vet—no pun intended—local facilities to find one you trust and to figure out how much the stay will cost. And if your pet isn’t used to being boarded, you may want to go through a few short trial runs before your vacation so you know how your pet will react and to give them time to learn the ropes. The Humane Society offers tips for finding the right kennel. Knowing that your pet is safe and comfortable can also help ease your own stress.
Of course, you don’t necessarily want to just choose the cheapest place, but do look for facilities that offer multi-night and multi-pet discounts. Many veterinary offices also offer boarding services to their clients.
Swap pet-sitting duties with friends
Chances are you have friends or family with pets, so propose a trade: If they watch your pup for a few days now, you’ll reciprocate when they travel in the future. Not only is this a low-cost option, but it can also work out well for nervous dogs that prefer to be around people they’re familiar with or other animals they’ve met before.
Find a reliable pet sitter—for a discount
Pet sitting comes in many different varieties, so you can choose what’s best for your animal and your budget. Some self-sufficient dogs and cats might only need a dog walker to come by a few times a day for exercise and to replenish the food bowl. Others might prefer going to the pet sitter’s house for a few days—or having the sitter stay at yours. Popular pet sitting sites—like Rover, DogVacay, SitterCity and Care.com—offer discount or referral codes, so you can get a break on these services. Consider setting up a pet sitter before you need one so your pet can get familiar with him or her. You want to be sure Fido or Fifi will be safe and well cared for while you travel.