State of Pet Travel Survey

Pet recently sent me its inaugural survey about pet travel.  Apparently we’re not fully enjoying the benefits of our travel vacations because we are worrying about our pets, even if they’re coming along!


Sometimes skirting the rules and costs involved with bringing your pet along seems tempting. Does anyone fess up to this pet owner faux pas?

  • 15% of pet owners admit to having smuggled a pet either into a non-pet friendly hotel room (12%) or onto an airplane (4%).
  • Interestingly enough, pet owners with children in their household are twice as likely as those without children in the household to say they are guilty of “pet smuggling” while traveling (17% vs. 8%).

Traveling Frequency

Despite having a pet, owners aren’t letting their furry friends get in the way of their travel with 79% of pet owners reporting that they take at least one trip that includes an overnight stay per year. Where their pet stays does, however, affect the length of pet owner travel.

  • Pet owners on average take 3.5* overnight trips per year spending an average of 15.6 nights away from home.
  • Traveling pet owners who use kennels/pet boarding/vet/pet sitting (79%) are more likely to travel for 5 or more nights away from home than those that use family/friends/neighbors to watch their pets (71%).

Guilt Trip

Although most people associate travel with vacation and relaxation, that isn’t quite the case with pet owners. Whether they’re traveling with or without their pets, the feeling of anxiety is more common than one might think. A whopping 72% of pet owners who travel without their pets worry about their pet during at least some of their trip, and 64% of pet owners traveling overnight would be more anxious traveling with their pets than without them. But the worrying doesn’t stop there:

  • 24% of pet owners who travel without their pets worry about their pets during all or most of their trip.
    • 73% of pet owners who leave their pets at the kennel when traveling feel guilty about it.
    • Surprisingly, male pet owners worry less than female pet owners about their pets when traveling without their pets.


Biggest Challenges in Pet Travel

Those owning pets are in agreement that there are limitations/challenges when making travel accommodations for their pets (64%). While only 48% of pet owners who travel overnight say that being a pet owner makes them travel less, other factors weigh heavy on traveling decisions. So what are the biggest limitations in making travel accommodations for traveling pet owners?

  • 50% of pet owners whose friends and family watch their pets when they travel feel bad asking them to watch their pets when traveling.
  • 32% say they have anxiety leaving their pet behind.
  • 23% say finding a trusted pet boarding/pet sitting option is a challenge when traveling.
  • 22% say the cost of pet boarding/pet sitting is a limitation when making travel accommodations.
  • 21% point to the difficulty in finding pet-friendly travel options when making travel accommodations.

Cost of Travel

Traveling involves ponying up the cash, but which method of travel is easiest on your pockets? On average, pet owners spend $247* annually when traveling with their pets. When leaving their pets to be cared for by someone else, pet owners spend on average $486* annually traveling without their pets.

Who Watches the Pets?

It’s crystal clear when it comes to whom pet owners would prefer to care for their pet, with the majority of pet owners citing the use of family members or friends to watch their pet when they travel. But what about when those trusty friends and family aren’t available?

  • 44% of pet owners who travel use pet boarding/pet sitting services 1 or more times per year on average.
  • Of those who use pet boarding/pet sitting services, they do so on average 4 times per year.


Pet-Friendly Airline and Hotel Accommodations

As for satisfaction with aspects of pet travel, specifically pet-friendly airlines and hotels, pet owners appear to be satisfied overall; however, there is clear room for improvement. A majority of pet owners are “at least” satisfied (top 3 on a 5 point scale) with pet-friendly airline and hotel accommodations, prices and availability.

However, it appears that not all believe that airline accommodations and pet-friendly prices are up to par, with nearly a quarter of pet owners being “not at all” satisfied (23% and 24%, respectively).

  • 75% of pet owners do not trust airlines to safely care for pets when traveling in cargo/checked.
  • More than two-in-five (45%) pet owners report being not at all or somewhat satisfied (bottom 2 on a 5 point scale) with pet-friendly airline accommodations (in cargo/checked).
  • In terms of hotels, a majority of pet owners are at least satisfied (top 3 on a 5 point scale) with pet-friendly hotel accommodations, prices and availability.

Dog Owners vs. Cat Owners

Since the dawn of time, dog and cat owners have been at odds. Dog owners are more likely to travel overnight, and cats may be the more spoiled animal.

  • When it comes to overnight travel, dog owners (81%) are more likely than cat owners (76%) to travel overnight.
  • In terms of spending habit, cat owners dole out a bit more dough spending on average $304 when traveling with their cat versus dog owners spending $273.
  • Dog owners (53%) are more likely to feel bad asking friends and family to watch their pets compared to cat owners (48%).
  • Dog owners (46%) are more likely than cat owners (37%) who travel overnight to say it’s difficult to relax because they’re worried about them.


Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of DogVacay from May 20th – 22nd, 2013 among 2,341 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,423 are pet owners. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Lee Morrell of DogVacay.

DogVacay is an online community that connects dog parents in need of pet-care services with qualified pet caregivers.


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