Cheap Ways to Transport Pets

Whether you're moving across the country or traveling from state to state, transporting your pet is not always a cheap endeavor. If money is an issue, however, there are things you can do to reduce travel expenses, including picking a cheaper way to transport your pet domestically.

Woman and cocker spaniel dog in car
Driving your pet would make the trip cheaper.
credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Ground Shipping

Perhaps the less stressful, cheaper way to transport your pet is to have him in the car with you. (2) For car travel, all you need is a crate or carrier so your pet can travel safely. You should also bring a leash with you and make sure it's on before you open the door, so there's no chance of Fido getting scared and lost.

If you need to ship your dog by himself, there are pet travel companies that specialize in ground shipping (1). These companies can arrange pickup and delivery times, offer help with any required paperwork and keep you informed of how Fido is doing along the way. The shipping is usually done by van, where drivers carry a limited number of dogs -- each in its own carrier -- in well-ventilated, comfortable conditions.

Animal Rescue Transport

If you're adopting a pet from a rescue organization, you might be able to secure cheap or free transport from a number of organizations or even volunteers. Most of these places have their own limitations and may not always have space available, so talk to them as early as you can. For example, Going Home Animal Rescue & Transport provides transport to certain areas of the country, while John Bloom will provide coast-to-coast transportation (links to both of these under Resources).

Flying for Cheap

While flying is not always the cheapest way to go, it can be a good choice if you plan things well. The best way to save money flying your pet is to check different airlines and see how much they charge (3). For example, Southwest Airlines charges a flat fee of $75 for animals flying in the cabin, while Delta Airlines charges Delta Air Lines. The prices are higher for large pets that are not allowed in the cabin and must fly cargo, but the fees still vary -- from $100 for Alaska Airlines to $250 for Unites Airlines.

Special Requirements

The requirements for shipping and transporting your pet will vary depending on how he's traveling. Airlines will probably only ask for a health certificate form your veterinarian indicating your pet is fit to fly (3), Proof of vaccination and other requriements is usually only requested for international flights. Just to be sure, confirm requriements with your airline of choice at the time you book your flight. Ground shipping compaies might or might not require a health certificate and proof of vaccination -- again, it varies -- but it might still be a good idea to talk to your vet in advance of any trip.