By Evie Carrick
August 15, 2019

It just doesn’t seem right to leave your pet at home while fly off to Hawaii or road trip down to Florida – especially if they’d love the destination as much as you do. And when it costs an average of $50 a day to board your pet, it makes even less sense. But as more and more people are traveling with their pets, the industry is cracking down with rules, pet fees, and cleaning charges.

A reader survey conducted by The Points Guy and Airfarewatchdog found that the main reason travelers fly with their pet is because they can’t — or simply won’t — leave their pet at home. But after paying multiple pet fees and in some cases, post-travel cleaning fees, it may be more cost effective to leave your furry friend at home.

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Here’s how much you can expect to pay when you travel with your pet.

Airline Fees for Pets

Cost: $75-125 one-way

All the major U.S. airlines – American, Delta, and United – transport cats and dogs, while both Delta and United allow household birds and United allows rabbits. Each airline has restrictions on the age and breed of pets they allow to travel in the cabin, while non-approved pets must travel below deck as a checked item.

For domestic flights, all three major airlines charge $125 for a carry-on pet. Frontier Airlines charges just $75, and Southwest Airlines charges $95 each way (and does not allow pets in cargo).

Rental Cars

Cost: Usually free, but cleaning fees are costly

Rental car companies are great about allowing pets to travel with their owners at no extra cost. Some companies, like Enterprise, require pets to be crated while riding in the car, while Budget explicitly says pets are “invited to travel in your rental car, just as they do in your personal car.”

If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Rental car companies tend to be quick to charge a hefty cleaning fee for pet hair, soilage, and damage. Kim Bruno told The Seattle Times that Budget sent him a bill for $285 because of pet hair. On their website, Budget states that “Although Budget doesn’t assess an extra fee for pets, pet owners will incur an additional charge for any damage caused by animals, or any special cleaning required as a result of shedding or accidents.”

Hotel Fees for Pets

Cost: $0-75 a night, often with a deposit or cleaning fee

The secret for staying overnight with your pet is to find a hotel that is set up to accommodate pets. Westin Hotels & Resorts allows small to mid-sized dogs to stay overnight with no nightly fee at 111 of their locations, while the Best Western boasts more than 1,600 pet-friendly locations with some accepting cats and birds as well as dogs. The Best Western charges up to $30 per day for each room with a pet and a refundable damage deposit of up to $150 per stay. Home2  Suites by Hilton allows various domestic pets of a certain size, but charges a nightly fee that varies by hotel. At one Home2 Suites location the pet fee was $75 per night, according to BringFido.

Pet-friendly hotels exist, but pet owners still need to be vigilant about cleaning up pet hair and crating their animals when they leave the room as hotels won’t blink an eye at keeping a deposit or charging your card on file an additional cleaning fee. As The Seattle Times states, “If you think upfront pet fees are bad, you don’t even want to know about post-stay pet-related cleaning fees.”

Train Travel

Cost: $26 per segment, up to seven hours

As the only long-distance intercity passenger train in the continental U.S., Amtrak allows cats and dogs up to 20 pounds to travel with their owner. Amtrak limits pet travel to one pet per customer and states that each train only accepts reservations for five pets total, meaning reservations should be made early to reserve your pet a spot.

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