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How to Make Traveling With Your Pet Affordable

When you’re traveling with your pet, there are several costs you need to consider beyond airline fees: Doggie day care or pet-sitting services, hotel pet fees and transit costs.

But sometimes travel rewards can help keep traveling with your animal affordable.

Here are a few things to consider when planning pet travel, and tips on how to keep the costs down.

What is the hotel’s or Airbnb’s policy for leaving your dog in the room?

If the hotel or Airbnb you’re staying in has a policy of never leaving your dog in the room by itself, you’ll need to also budget for local pet sitting services or day care.

If you’re gone for a few hours, services such as Rover will help you find an experienced dog walker, and the first two walks are free. Pet-sitting services are priced similar to babysitting services. Expect to pay at least $10 per hour, though pet daycare services may cheaper. We pay $25 per day in New York, while other people I know pay $35 per day. Generally, expect to hire a pet sitter if you need to leave your pet at night.

How much are the pet fees?

Hotel pet fees can range from $0 to $100 per stay, or nightly rates of up to $50. Even chains that may have a stated price could vary by location. Alternatively, Airbnb pet fees are set by individuals. I’ve been charged $0 to $5 per night or $40 per stay.

But unlike a hotel, Airbnb pet fees can be negotiated. I responded to the person who asked for $40 per stay that my dog was well behaved and I’ve never had a pet fee for an Airbnb on other trips. The host dropped my fee to $20.

What rewards perks make traveling with your pet cheaper?

If you are using travel rewards to book hotels where you have choices among multiple hotels, call individual hotels to check their pet policies. If you can get a free or cheap room at a hotel that doesn’t have a policy where you can’t leave your pet in the room, you’ll save on both pet sitting services and the hotel room itself.

» Learn more: The 3 C’s simplify the complex rules of flying with pets

Because pet policies can differ within a chain, having a travel rewards credit card with multiple hotel options is important.

Does the hotel have amenities for your dog?

Some do. Kimpton Hotels offer toys, treats, clean-up bags and water bowls for your pet.

You should generally plan on bringing or buying your dog’s food from a local pet store. Although expensive, some boutique hotels will have doggie menus to treat your pooch.

Are there pet-friendly options to get to the hotel you choose?

If the local shuttle services don’t accept pets, you could end up paying a much higher price to get to the hotel. It helps to call the hotel concierge and ask about transportation options both to the hotel and around town.

Additionally, find local attractions or outdoor restaurants that allow pets. I’ve visited quite a few hotels recently that will serve your pet indoors in seating areas outside of the restaurant.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:

  • Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
  • Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
  • Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
  • No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
  • Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best pet insurance
How much does owning a pet really cost?
Dog-friendly designs attract home buyers and remodelers