As I’ve gotten older and started traveling with Wynston more frequently, my love for exploring new places has grown immensely. There is something so incredibly freeing about hitting the road with my son and enjoying the journey. Some people wonder how I travel like I do because they know I’m a very tight budget. Like, very tight. But the fact is, I’ve learned how to travel on a budget. Traveling doesn’t have to mean staying at a 5-star resort for seven nights while getting butler service everyday. I mean, that would be lovely, but that’s not what I do. Now I want to share my secrets and tips on how to travel with your dog on a budget.
How to Travel With Your Dog on a Budget
Determine which mode of transportation is cheapest.
My two options for traveling are driving and flying. The furthest I’ve driven with Wynston is to Texas, which was 12 hours one way. We were visiting San Angelo, which is a smaller town, and airline tickets were typically $400-$500. It was much more cost effective for us to drive, as my car gets 40mpg, and I can drive 12 hours in one day. It may take a little bit of math to determine which way will be cheapest for you. Of course if I was traveling further east than Texas, I probably wouldn’t drive, so taking a flight would be my best bet. Stopping along the way to stay in hotels plus added gas money would end up costing the same if not more than a plane ticket.
Other questions to ask yourself are:
- Will you need to pay a fee to travel with your dog on an airplane? You will pay around $100 if your dog isn’t a service animal or ESA.
- Does your car get good enough gas mileage to make it worth it to drive?
- Would you need to stop for food and hotels during your road trip? Those costs add up.
- Do you need to check luggage at the airport? Fees can be up to $25 per bag!
Bonus tip: Sunday is the most expensive day to fly. Booking a flight on a certain day could add at least $30 or so to your ticket price.
Of course, you may be limited to how you can travel. Perhaps you have a big dog that can’t fly in an airplane cabin. Or maybe you have multiple dogs. Those factors may force you to drive everywhere.
Other modes of transportation include bus or train. I’m not sure if you can bring dogs on a train or a bus, but it may be worth it for you to look into. Ultimately you’ll want to do the math and determine what will be the most cost effective way for you to travel.
Where are you staying?
Man, there are SO many options outside of staying in a hotel for traveling now. Websites like VRBO or AirBnB are your best friend. You can find yurts, mansions, tiny homes, apartments, campers and more available for rent on AirBnB. The website seems to have endless possibilities and it’s almost always considerably cheaper than a hotel. Plus you can stay in some really unique homes, which make for amazing photos!
Another option is staying with friends or family. That is definitely the least expensive option, and it’s always fun to see friends. When I go to Indianapolis to visit where I grew up I stay with my old neighbors. It’s a HUGE money saver, and it’s more enjoyable! Even if you stay with a friend or family member for one night of your trip, that’s probably at least a $100 savings.
Bonus tip: If there’s a hotel chain you enjoy staying at (I prefer IHG) join their free rewards program! It’s easy to rack up points when you stay at a hotel for a few nights, and some membership programs have a sign on points bonus. You can end up with lots of free hotel stays that way!
Bring your own food.
If you’re going on a road trip, it’s easy to pack your own food and it’s soooo much cheaper. I like staying at hotels with a kitchen (and most AirBnB options have a kitchen of sorts), giving me an option to cook and refrigerate. This way I can buy groceries when I arrive. Even if you’re flying somewhere you can pack an entire suitcase of non-perishables and check it in. You may have to pay a checked bag fee, but it could possibly pay for itself in your food cost savings. Again, it’ll take a little bit of math. If you’re going on a road trip, bring your own food because it will always be more cost effective.
Save on dog-friendly activities.
Before you head out on your journey, research activities at your destination. You don’t always have to pay an arm and a leg to do something fun. If you visit a National Park of sorts you may need to spend $5 or so for entry, but that’s nothing. Dog-friendly activities tend to be outdoors anyways, making them cheaper than visiting a museum or going to a show. Make your own fun by exploring trails, visiting lakes, eating at a dog-friendly restaurant or checking out local tourist sites.
During one of our trips to San Angelo, TX, Wynston and I visited Fort Concho. We went on a day when there was nobody there. The museum volunteers were super friendly and allowed us to walk around inside even though Wynston isn’t a service dog. Then we spent a while walking the Fort and taking in all of the history. The visit was completely free. Sometimes there are hidden gems that will cost you nothing but will create priceless memories.
For me, traveling with my dog on a budget means being able to travel more frequently. It can be fun to find more cost-effective ways to travel because it requires more digging and research. You never know what fun dog-friendly places and activities you may find along the way!
Do you often travel with your dog? How do you manage to keep costs down?