The Real Cost of Traveling with Your Dog


Considering taking your four-legged friend on vacation this summer? Whether you’re traveling by air, land or sea, travel fees can add up quickly even before leaving home.

Thankfully, The Dog People at Rover dug into the data to help take some of the guesswork out of travel costs, so you can spend less time crunching numbers and more time planning your epic adventure together.


The real cost of traveling with your dog

Get the full scoop on how much it costs to travel with your dog, from airline fees to travel carriers to vaccinations.

  • Airline travel fees: $250 RT ($125/per leg)
    Don’t forget that your dog also needs a “ticket” to fly. It can cost quite a bit of money to fly with your pet. Delta Airlines, for example, charges $125 each way to travel in-cabin with your small dog domestically, and $200 each way for international flights. That can add up, so factor those costs into your budget.
  • Lodging fees: $175 for a week ($25/night)
    In addition to making sure your accommodation is pet-friendly, you’ll want to see if they charge fees for pets. Many hotels and rental properties will charge daily fees or additional cleaning fees if you bring one or more pets.
  • Rental car cleaning fees: $25-$400
    You’ll incur this cost if your dog sheds in the car or has any accidents
  • Approved travel carrier: $35-250
    If you fly with your dog or cat you’ll need to get an airline approved travel carrier.
  • Train travel fees: $50 RT ($26/per leg)
  • Vet visit for a health certificate and vaccinations: $50
    Airlines, trains, and hotels may require a health certificate to ensure your dog or cat is healthy and vaccinated. Some countries also require dogs to be microchipped.
  • Flea/parasite/tick prevention: $30-$60
    If you’ll be spending any time outdoors you’ll want to ensure your dog is protected from fleas, ticks, and parasites.
  • Grooming: $84
    Grooming your dog before your trip can ensure you avoid costly cleaning fees from hotels or rental car companies.
  • Car harness or carrier: $84-$130
    If you’re taking a road trip a car harness or carrier is a must have for your dog or cat.
  • Car seat covers: $30
    This is another good one to have if you’re taking a road trip that might include outdoor activities where your dog could pick up dirt or sand.
  • Extra food: $15-$30
    You don’t want to run out of food on the road, and risk not being able to find your preferred brand. Switching to a new food too quickly can cause tummy issues for your pet.
  • Pet daycare: $15-$40/day
    If you’re going to be busy with non-pet friendly activities make sure to factor in finding care for your dog during the day.
  • Pet-safe sunblock: $10-15
    Dogs can get sunburn too! Make sure to include sun protection for your furry friend. (Pet sunscreen is generally not necessary for long-haired breeds; check with your vet to be sure.)

Total potential cost: $853 – $1564


Cost of travel vs. pet sitter

Depending on your trip, leaving your pet at home may be the more ideal and affordable option. The average cost of overnight care for your dog or cat with a Rover sitter is $30 a day.

  • Average cost for a summer overnight dog or cat sitter = $30/day ($210/week)
  • Average cost for a summer cat drop-in sitter = $18/day ($126/week)


Unexpected costs of traveling with pets

We asked family travel expert Julia Dimon to share some of the hidden fees and expenses that can come up when traveling with your four-legged family members.

Not-so-friendly pet-friendly policies

“There are many hotels and vacation rentals claiming they are pet-friendly, but then charge between $100 and $200 per stay. I’ve never thought that was particularly friendly” Julia shares.

Sure, you can check the pet-friendly filter on Airbnb and VRBO to find rentals that will let you bring your pets but when it comes to accommodations, read the fine print for costs.

Julia suggests the Kimpton Hotel group and the small pet-friendly Aloft chain for its thoroughly pet-friendly policies.

“Kimpton allow pets of any type, size, and breed to stay for free. Beyond the savings, they also provide luxury pet beds, food bowls, yummy treats, and dog guests are invited to their nightly wine reception. Some properties also offer dog massages, pooch room service menu, and a pet concierge.”

The Aloft pet program for dogs under 40lbs offers pet beds, dog bowls, treats, and complimentary toys during their stay.


Get your pet reservations early

In addition to ticket charges for pet passengers, most airlines also limit the total number of pets per flight. Julia recommends calling in advance to ensure there is room for your pet on board.

International travel and pet vaccinations

Many countries have strict regulations when it comes to international pet travel, so Julia recommends checking the US Department of Agriculture website for the most up-to-date info on the countries you’ll be visiting.

Once you know which vaccinations your dog needs, call your vet to determine the best time to get those shots before your trip and make your appointment.

Your dog may also need a health certificate signed by a USDA certified veterinarian, so this is a great time to double check their status or find an alternate doctor who can provide that exam.

Update your dog’s contact information

Before a big trip is a perfect time to update your dog’s ID tags and check that her microchip contact information is up-to-date. Julia also suggests keeping a copy of your vet’s contact info handy, and to take the time to look up some vet options at your destination in case of emergencies.

Dog food to go

When it comes to feeding your dog on the road, it’s best to stick with the tried and true food you use at home to avoid unnecessarily upset tummies.

But what to do if you’re near your luggage weight capacity and want to avoid paying excess luggage fees? Julia recommends ordering dog food to be sent to your destination.

“In the past, I have gone on Amazon and shipped my dog’s favorite food directly to our final destination (Amazon’s free delivery was less expensive than baggage fees).”

And any leftovers can be donated to a local rescue. It’s a win/win.

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