Here's Why I Almost Always Take Dog-Friendly Vacations — Despite the Higher Cost of Lodging

My family and I adopted our dog, Champ, in 2020. And we like to call him our velcro dog because he really doesn’t like to be apart from us. This holds true whether we’re leaving the house, using the bathroom, or going on vacation.

Our previous dog, Casey, wasn’t as into us. And he was also a 16-pound, non-shedding dog who was easy to unload on family members or friends when we needed to. Champ is 70-something pounds and sheds all over the place. He’s also really hard to walk and needs to be near humans at all times.

As such, in the past few years, we’ve generally found it easier to bring Champ along when we travel rather than leave him behind. Not only does that tend to be the more cost-effective option, but it’s also better for our peace of mind.

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It’s worth paying more for lodging

Progressive says that airlines generally charge a pet fee of $100 to $200 each way to fly a dog to your destination. When we looked into having our dog fly, we were quoted a much higher price. We also decided that the stress of flying would be too much for Champ, so we’ve opted to only take car trips for travel he’s been a part of.

Meanwhile, my family has stayed at different vacation rentals over the past few years. And in most cases, we paid more for the ability to bring Champ along. But the cost of having him join us on vacation was usually less than the cost of overnight care with a pet sitter (a kennel isn’t an option for him, as he would get too stressed).

The last time we booked a dog-friendly stay at a vacation rental, we spent three nights in Vermont. And we wound up paying about $150 extra in the form of a pet fee for the privilege of bringing Champ along.

However, in our area, it can easily cost $75 to $80 a night to get a full-time pet sitter, which we’d need if we were to leave Champ behind. So all told, the extra $150 was actually the more cost-effective option for us.

It’s also a matter of peace of mind

Not only has taking dog-friendly vacations been a smart move for us from a credit card balance perspective, but it’s also been easier on us mentally. Sure, having a dog means not being able to do certain indoor things while we’re away. But since our vacations tend to be outdoorsy by nature, usually, we’re able to bring Champ with us without having to give up any of the things we want to do.

For example, we tend to do a lot of hiking on our trips. That’s usually something a dog can do (though it’s worth noting that many national parks do not allow dogs on the trails). And in some cases, you can even bring a dog kayaking if you do your research beforehand (and have your own doggie flotation device).

Plus, we like to travel when the weather is warm, and we’ll usually find outdoor restaurants that allow Champ to sit with us on the patio when we eat. And if not, we just bring food back to the place we’re renting or pick up groceries and make dinner at home — which helps us save money as an added plus.

Taking dog-friendly vacations spares us the worry of leaving Champ with a dog sitter and having to wonder if he’s doing okay. When he’s with us, we know he’s just fine. And that alone is reason to plan our trips around him.

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