Frugal vacation plans for your pet

Where Will Fido Go On Vacation?

by Debra Karplus

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Your family enjoys weekend getaways and longer vacations when possible. Your dog is certainly an important family member. For road trips, staying at one of the many pet-friendly motels, such as Motel 6, which charges $10 per night and up to $50 for your entire stay for your well-behaved pet, is a reasonable option. But sometimes it is most practical to travel without your pooch or other family pet. There are several good options for what to do with your pet when you are away. Prices vary depending on the going rate in your specific locale.

Your dog may enjoy his or her new furry friends while staying at a kennel.

Just like motels and hotels where you have stayed, kennels for your pet offer a range of service, comfort, and price. The basic amenities are room and board. Hopefully, there is ample outdoor space for your dog to run around and play. Some places may also offer grooming and other special services.

Your dog will have the opportunity to play with other dogs. The down side of that is that your pet has more of a chance of getting sick from one of his new pals. Your veterinarian, friends with pets, or online consumer reviews may help you decide where to board your pet when you are away. Ask a variety of people and solicit recommendations for an appropriate kennel for your pet when you are away. Though rates vary regionally, the going rate in a medium- sized Midwestern town is about $23 per night.

Home care for your pet while you are away may provide him or her more attention from caring people.

You know your pet better than anyone; therefore you have an instinctive feeling whether Fido would be happier in a kennel with other animals or in a home where he is likely to be the only pet. Perhaps you have a friend who loves pets but isn't able to have one of their own. Depending on their home and their living habits and schedule, your pet might do well vacationing at their home while you are away.

At the bare minimum, they should have adequate space for your dog and a spot for him to sleep indoors or outside in a dog house. They should also love pets and have the time and inclination to play with your dog. If you are considering this option for your pet, try it first for one night and see how it works out.

Can't afford a pro? Give do-it-yourself dog grooming a try.

Many people with pets prefer to bring an experienced pet sitter into their home to keep their dog or other pet happiest.

Some people don't like disruptions; pets can be the same way. That's why many pet owners have discovered that bringing a pet sitter into their home is the best option for their dog, cat or other pet, and especially if they have more than one pet. Perhaps you know someone who would be the ideal pet sitter; a responsible teen or middle school student could be a capable pet sitter. Often your vet may have the names of pet sitters. There are even agencies that employ pet sitters.

Interview a potential pet sitter the same way you would a babysitter or nanny. Prepare a list of specific questions for them. Ask what services they will provide, such as grooming or administering medication to your pet. Observe them while they interact with your pet. Obtain at least three references and contact each of these people to see if they were pleased with the services of this pet sitter.

One woman is happy to pay $12 a visit for three visits a day to have her aging dog enjoy the continuity of being at home with visits from someone who feeds him, walks her dog including picking up his little messes in a disposable plastic bag, and frolics with him. $18 each visit is considered the going rate in larger towns.

One woman living in Central Illinois, whose job involves frequent domestic air trips, priced different options for her medium-sized, ten-year-old furry companion for when she was away. She was surprised to learn that there was not a notable price differential between the choices. She has opted to have a pet sitter come to her home.

Related: How to Hire an Affordable, Reliable Housesitter

She maintains a list of several pet sitters that she likes because since they are all very capable, often other families hire them before she can. She states that she is pleased each time she returns home from an exhausting business trip because her dog seems happy and her house appears to be in good order.

Every community has different options for pet owners to consider when they need to be away without their beloved pet. Take your time and shop around for the best service first and foremost, but also for the most reasonable price for the service provided. You and your pet will both be glad for this well thought out decision.

Reviewed April 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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