10 ways to save on a road trip with your pet

Marla Jo Fisher
Orange County Register

Having pets isn’t cheap, and that includes bringing them with you on the road. If you can’t bear the idea of leaving your furry friend behind when you travel, here are some ideas to cut the cost:

1. Map out your route so you can determine the pet-friendly hotels on the trip and compare prices and amenities. Don’t assume you can leave your pet in the room when you’re not there — many, if not most, places forbid it. Make sure you declare your dog when you arrive so you don’t get thrown out if it’s discovered.

2. Motel 6 doesn’t charge any fees or deposits for up to two pets. Its website, Motel6.com, has a map function tha

t will allow you to locate all the Motel 6s along your route. Note you can usually save a couple of bucks by booking online in advance. (Studio 6 upgraded properties do charge a $10 pet fee.)

3. You can often find deals at La Quinta properties, which allow up to two pets to stay free at nearly all of its sites. Individual hotels have their own rules about the size of pets allowed, so call ahead. The website is LQ.com.

4. Red Roof Inn is a moderately priced chain that also allows one well-behaved family pet to stay for free. Check out RedRoof.com.

5. Make a list to ensure you bring all your pet’s supplies, so you don’t have to stop and buy on the road. Leash, carrier, food, treats, water bowl.

You don’t want to be looking for your pet’s favorite food on the road, where comparison shopping is not much of an option. I suggest bringing a harness, not merely a collar, for greater security.

Your pet has a name tag with your cellphone number on it, right? If not, Ace Hardware will make you one in a minute for almost nothing.

Your vet might also chip your animal for $15 or so.

And it’s a good idea to bring your vaccination papers with you, and a photo in case, God forbid, he gets loose.

6. Spread a towel under your pooch in the car in case he gets carsick or has other issues. It’s cheaper than doing a thorough cleaning afterward. I once had a big puppy throw up into my purse on a trip to Joshua Tree. Yes. Into it. It wasn’t fun.

7. You can often find pet carriers at thrift shops for only a few dollars. Yes, I know, that sounds gross. But a good scrubbing with soap and germ-killing bleach and it will be sanitized and good as new.

8. Keep your pet contained while you leave the motel room or when you go to sleep to avoid paying for damage. When my folding metal dog crate rusted open, I bought a pop-up fabric one. It folds into a small circle for travel, then easily pops up into a crate big enough for a medium-sized dog. Yes, it’s made from tent material, so a determined dog could rip it up. My dog, Buddy, however, knows it’s kick-back time when I put him in there on his doggie blanket. He takes a siesta until I let him out.

Wal-Mart is selling similar models for $17 to $38, depending on size.

9. Buy a box of the tiniest trash can liners at Smart & Final to bring along to scoop up after your pet. They’re packaged tightly so they don’t take up much room.

10. Use DogPark.com to find dog parks to stop at along your route. A tired pet will be less likely to wreak havoc in the hotel room. Then, check out national websites for affordable tips such as TripsWithPets.com and PetFriendlytravel.com.