Summer is here, and it’s time to start filling your calendar with fun excursions! These suggestions for affordable, pet-friendly vacations are intentionally vague in terms of destination. They’re the kind of trips you can take almost anywhere in the country, with a little creativity and a bit of planning.
The lesson is that taking a vacation with a pet doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Going simple can be highly rewarding. Perhaps there is a new activity on this list that you’ve never tried before. Make this summer the year that you and your pet will take the plunge and give something new a shot!
Car or tent camping is one of the most economical ways to vacation, and a great way to spend a few days with your pooch. Many campgrounds are pet-friendly, as long as you keep your furry travel companion on a leash. If you’ve never camped with your dog before, you may want to practice in your living room or the backyard before you set out for the woods. Set up the tent and have a sleepover!
Federal campgrounds tend to be less expensive than ones owned privately or run by the state – but keep in mind that they may also have fewer amenities. If you’re counting on electric outlets and shower facilities, be sure to do some careful research before selecting your site. Some federal campgrounds provide only drinking water and composting toilets – and some don’t even have that. These are the kinds of places we often seek out because they’re less crowded and offer first-come, first-served campsites when other campgrounds may be booked well in advance.
Another great option for camping is finding Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Depending on where you choose, these spots are very inexpensive or free, making them a super-affordable vacation option with your pet! BLM locations are generally undeveloped, so there will be no amenities, but campers can usually stay up to 14 days before having to move at least 25 miles from their original spot.
Consider taking a cycling vacation with your dog! This idea can sound daunting at first, but it’s a lot of fun, and remember – you set the pace and decide how far to go. Cycling is a great active way to travel, and moving along more slowly allows you to see things you’d otherwise miss.
If you don’t have equipment like panniers or a trailer for your dog, ask around to see if you can borrow them from a friend or rent them from your local bike shop. Spend some time acclimating your dog to riding in a trailer, like you would if you were teaching her to use a kennel for the first time. Once she’s used to the trailer indoors, transition to short rides around the block, gradually increasing the distance over a few weeks.
Start of with a weekend tour from your front door. Many cities have cycle paths that lead to known bicycle routes or quiet country roads outside of town. Check your local tourism board website for ideas, or follow the routes used by local bicycle races (bonus, the markers are often left along the road after the race, so you won’t have to check your map as often!), or take a peek on Wikiloc, which has thousands of bike routes all over the world.
Since flying is costly and stressful, and larger dogs aren’t permitted on trains like Amtrak, a road trip is a natural choice for an affordable vacation with your pet. If you pair it with tent or car camping, then you’ve really got yourself a budget vacation!
The beauty of road trips with a dog is that you’re able to explore destinations and attractions you’ll both enjoy. If you love hiking, apps like AllTrails can help you locate local favorites … or if you prefer shopping, sampling the local fare at pet friendly eateries, or laying on the beach, GoPetFriendly.com’s road trip planner will provide you with a nice selection of options.
If you prefer to take your home with you everywhere you go, try renting an RV or Campervan. Several RV rental companies allow pets, and some only charge an additional pet fee IF the RV requires additional cleaning. So, do the clean up yourself and you’re good to go!
While the cost to rent an RV or van might seem high at first, it allows you to avoid paying hotel fees and eating out. Finding a BLM campground to park at and preparing your own meals in the on-board kitchen can make this a money saving alternative.
There’s a lot to explore in your own backyard! Visit your local tourism office, grab several pamphlets of nearby attractions, and pick a few that look appealing – and are dog-friendly, of course. Check out a new trail, visit the local botanical garden or arboretum, or finally try paddle boarding on the lake in the next town over.
Even if you’ve lived in the same place for years, it’s amazing the things you’ll find to do when you play tourist in your own home town.
With more and more folks traveling with their pets, hotels are becoming more likely to welcome four-legged guests. However, some take advantage and charging exorbitant pet fees. Private accommodations, like AirBnb and vacation rentals, may do the same – so carefully check the pet policy before making your reservations.
Luckily, there are plenty of great hotel options that allow pets to stay for free, like Kimpton Hotels, Red Roof Inn, and La Quinta. These chains are located throughout the US, so you should have no problem tracking one down in your ideal destination.
We hope these tips help you plan a budget-friendly vacation with your best friend. If you have other ideas for saving money on a pet friendly trip, please leave a comment below!