Travel Trends: Pet travel

From doggy daycare to feline pampering to gourmet food and beyond, pet owners in the United States shower their furry companions with a healthy dose of attention. Although this affection is shown through lots of play time and generous ear scratching, it’s most easily recognizable by the billions of dollars spent every year in the pet industry.

Since 1994, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) has kept track of just how much Americans spend on their pets. The data verifies that with every new year, U.S. pet owners have spent increasingly more on their four-legged counterparts. In fact, within the 10 years between 1994 and 2004, the spending literally doubled from $17 billion to $34 billion. Fast forward to 2010, a mere 6 years later, and that number has skyrocketed to approximately $47.4 billion.

While money spent on pets includes vet fees, food and other typical expenses, a large chunk of that is devoted to leisure-related activities like pampering and lodging. This increased amount of spending is partially due to a growing trend in the pet industry that has owners toting their pets along with them on vacation.

The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) released data in January of 2009 that said the most popular animal that pet owners bring with them on vacations is a dog. This is likely due to the canine’s happy-go-lucky attitude and ability to adapt to new environments quickly. Coming in at second place are felines at 15 percent, followed by birds at 3 percent and “others” at 2 percent (other includes ferrets, fish, rabbits).

As for how pets travel, transportation via cars is by far the most common. And, according to a the same travel poll conducted by TIA, only 6 percent of animals travel with an airline and 10 percent travel in a recreational vehicle.

Once a pet and its owner have finally reached their destination, finding a place to stay is the next detail to figure out. As of 2009, 32 percent of travelers stay with someone who they already know, such as a friend or relative. Twenty nine percent stay in a hotel, 16 percent opt for a recreation vehicle or tent and the final 10 percent stay in a cabin or vacation home. This information is also based on data gathered by TIA.

This discussion “begs” the question: do you travel with your pet(s)? No? Then be sure to check out “Ask Gadling: How to prepare for not traveling without your dog.”

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