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How Far Americans Go to Travel With Their Pets [2023 Survey]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

288 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

29 Published Articles 3093 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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When it comes to traveling with our 4-legged companions, there’s a divide that’s as wide as the Grand Canyon. On one side, we have passionate pet owners who wouldn’t dream of leaving their beloved Fido behind. On the other, some prefer a pet-free environment during their travels and cringe at the thought of sharing a flight or hotel space with someone else’s furry companion.

To settle this ultimate debate between pet owners and non-pet owners, we conducted a survey, engaging with over 1,000 Americans. We asked pet owners questions like, “Would you choose to travel with your pet over your own child?” Meanwhile, non-pet owners faced queries like, “If given the choice, would you prefer to sit next to someone with their pet or a child on a plane?”

Keep reading to uncover Americans’ real sentiments regarding traveling with their pets and the level of discomfort their fellow passengers might experience.

How Do Americans Feel About People Traveling With Their Pets?

An infographic showing insights from a survey about pet travel
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Traveling with a pet can pose various challenges, from a dog experiencing anxiety or needing a bathroom break to, well, smelling like a dog. Plus, some passengers might have allergies, discomfort with pets, or other concerns. To get to the heart of how Americans really feel about people traveling with their pets, we conducted a survey that included both pet and non-pet owners. 

On Traveling With a Pet: 

  • Pet Owners: Two-thirds of pet owners would bring their pet whenever they travel if possible.
  • Non-Pet Owners: One-third of Americans are uncomfortable sharing airplanes with pets in the same cabin as passengers. This varies by generation, as 44% of Americans over 40 are uncomfortable flying with other people’s pets compared to just 24% of those 40 and younger.

On Traveling With a Pet Versus a Child: 

  • Pet Owners: Over 1 in 4 pet owners (26%) would rather travel with their pet than their child.
  • Non-Pet Owners: 57% of non-pet owners would rather sit next to a pet on a plane than a child.

On Road Trips Versus Flights:

  • Pet Owners: 70% of pet owners would prefer an 8-hour road trip compared to a 2-hour flight with their pet.
  • Non-Pet Owners: 55% of non-pet owners would prefer a 2-hour flight next to a pet rather than an 8-hour road trip with one.

Interestingly, we discovered that pet owners are willing to go the extra mile to meet their pets’ needs — even if it means changing their plans to stay in more pet-friendly accommodations. For instance, 83% of pet owners have reported altering their travel plans to better accommodate their pet’s needs. This includes 42% who do it occasionally and over 1 in 10 (11%) who do it frequently.

Many pet owners still opt to travel with their pets for various reasons, including financial considerations and the emotional attachment to their furry companions. Surprisingly, one-third of pet owners (33%) would opt for a standard vacation with their pets instead of traveling to their dream destination without their furry friend. After all, who needs Italy when you have Fido by your side? 

When it comes to flying with a dog or cat — 1 in 5 (21%) non-pet owners are initially annoyed by the presence of a passenger’s pets, while slightly more (23%) are initially happy

Traveling with a pet can pose several challenges as pet owners must adhere to airline regulations, ensuring their furry friends are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Unsurprisingly, a majority of pet owners (85%) have encountered challenges or restrictions while traveling with their pets at some point, with 12% experiencing these frequently.

Additionally, 26% of pet owners are passionate about advocating for stronger pet-friendly travel policies and regulations, while 19% would never actively engage in advocating for them.

Non-pet owners, however, appear unsympathetic to pet owners’ struggles, as only 23% believe that current pet travel regulations are strict enough. In contrast, 33% believe regulations should be stricter as long as they don’t overly inconvenience pet owners, and 41% think there should be more regulations, regardless of their impact on pet owners.

The Added Amenity Cost of Traveling With Your Pet

An infographic showing survey insights about the additional amenities pet owners pay when traveling
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

From reserving accommodations at pet-friendly hotels to meticulously verifying the availability of pet relief areas, pet parents frequently incur additional expenses for their furry companions. We asked pet owners and non-pet owners alike their thoughts on pet-friendly accommodation.

On Pet-Friendly Hotels:

  • Pet Owners: 75% of pet owners would pay more for a pet-friendly hotel so their pets can travel with them.
  • Non-Pet Owners: 25% of non-pet owners would not stay at an Airbnb or rental property that was marketed as pet-friendly. 19% would only do it as a last resort, while just over half (56%) say it doesn’t factor into their decision on where to stay at all. 

Traveling with a dog or other pet can quickly become a logistical nightmare. In terms of booking a pet-friendly hotel, pet owners place the highest value on pet-friendly attractions (49%), followed closely by in-room pet amenities (41%), and designated pet relief areas (40%).

Pet-friendly hotels are another big concern for pet owners. We found that 64% of pet owners would pay up to an extra $50 per night for pet-friendly accommodations when they travel, which is in line with the average fee per night ($50 to $100). To save on costs, pet owners can limit their hotel search to brands that don’t charge pet fees, such as Kimpton Hotels.

When it comes to crossing paths with pets at destinations like parks, breweries, or coffee shops, 25% of non-pet owners would prefer going to destinations without a strong pet presence compared to 60% of respondents who say it wouldn’t matter. Interestingly, 15% of non-pet owners would prefer to go to destinations that promote themselves as pet-friendly. Who wouldn’t like seeing an adorable pomeranian while you’re enjoying your drink? 

Respondents have also pointed out that leaving their pets at home is often more expensive than taking them along on the journey. On average, pet owners spend $213 for pet-sitting or boarding fees during a week-long vacation. However, they tend to spend an additional $176 when traveling with their pets for a week, which includes expenses for accommodation, activities, travel, and more.

Breaking it down further, dog owners typically spend around $203 when traveling with their canine companions and $250 when leaving them at home. Meanwhile, cat owners spend approximately $131 when traveling with their feline friends, compared to $136 when their cats remain at home.

Methodology

To gain insights into Americans’ attitudes toward pet travel, we surveyed over 1,000 Americans who travel regularly. This survey took place over 3 days in September 2023. During the survey, we inquired about pet owners’ travel habits and gathered the perspectives of non-pet owners regarding pet inclusion in vacation plans.

Final Thoughts

Americans are split when it comes to traveling with pets, and the line is often just whether or not they have one. Two-thirds of pet owners would bring their pets with them every time they traveled if they could, while one-third of non-pet owners are uncomfortable sharing a plane with them. Three-quarters of pet owners are even ready to spend extra for pet-friendly hotels, showcasing their devotion.

We hope this article offered insights into Americans’ attitudes toward sharing close spaces with 4-legged passengers. Safe travels!

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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