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14 Surprising Pet Travel Statistics & Trends: 2024 Update

Keri-Beth Clur

By Keri-Beth Clur

Pet Travel Facts & Statistics

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Pet travel has become popular in recent years, and some pet owners even refuse to go on vacation unless their pets can come along with them. Pet travel has come a long way, and there are much fewer restrictions around pets traveling with their owners on planes, buses, trains, etc. More hotels have started opening their doors to cats, dogs, and birds. Many of them don’t discriminate against the type of pet you bring along as long as they’re under the weight limit regulations.

If you’re eager to take your pet along with you on your next adventure but don’t know what to expect, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss all the interesting statistics surrounding pet travel so you can better prepare yourself and know what to look out for, for a stress-free time away. 

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Top 14 Pet Travel Statistics

  1. 70% of US households own at least one pet.
  2. Every year, 78% of Americans travel with their pets.
  3. More than half of travelers (60%) worldwide take their pets with them when they holiday.
  4. 25 million dog owners bring their dogs along for a vacation in pet-friendly hotels.
  5. 37% of dog owners opt to stay home with their pets rather than travel.
  6. 75% of American hotels ranging from luxury, midscale, and economy, allow pets.
  7. There are around 3,500 pet-friendly Choice Hotels across the country.
  8. 81% of pet parents prefer staying in pet-friendly hotels over other forms of accommodation.
  9. 10% of people have snuck their pets into a hotel through their luggage. 
  10. 58% of people have found the process of traveling with their pets difficult.
  11. 38% of pet parents find driving with their pets easier than flying with them.
  12. 29% of pet owners have reported being distracted by their dogs while behind the wheel.
  13. Alaska Airlines is the most popular airline for pet transportation, flying 107,042 pets in one year.
  14. Between the start of 2015 and the end of 2020, United Airlines reported 45 pet deaths and 42 pet injuries.
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The Growing Interest in Pet Travel

1. 70% of US households own at least one pet.

(APPA)

From 1988 to 2022, pet ownership increased substantially, growing by 14%. In the past 3 years alone, pet households grew by 3%. In 2022, 70% of US households own a pet, which is around 90.5 million families. 

cat owner looking at her pet
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

2. Every year, 78% of Americans travel with their pets.

(Roanoke Times)

Americans love their pets, regardless of the species. About 95% of people consider their pets to be a part of their family and value them for the happiness and affection they bring. For these reasons and so many more, pets are a welcomed addition to any vacation or long trip.


3. More than half of travelers (60%) around the world take their pets with them when they holiday.

(WagWalking) 

According to a survey of pet parents around the country, for 60% of pet owners, a holiday isn’t truly a holiday without their pet, so they bring them along. To cater to the high number of people traveling with their pets, hotels, cities, and restaurants have had to make an effort to change and adapt to make their areas suitable for people as well as pets. 

Pug dog sits in near carrier with travel kit
Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

4. 25 million dog owners bring their dogs along for a vacation in pet-friendly hotels.

(Hyatt Newsroom)

Dogs are the pet that travels the most, with 25 million dog owners taking their pups with them to stay at pet-friendly hotels when on vacation. This is mainly because there are more dogs in the US than any other pet, but also because dogs are far easier to travel with than cats.  


5. 37% of dog owners opt to stay home with their pets rather than travel.

(Rover)

We all need a holiday sometimes, but that looks different to different people. Some may see a holiday as getting away from their town or city to relax at a beach resort, while others may want to head to the mountains. For 37% of dog owners, a holiday is about being with their pets, and they would rather be with them at home than travel without them.

The Golden Retriever dog works with the owner
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

The Growing Need for Pet-Friendly Accommodation

6. 75% of American hotels ranging from luxury, midscale, and economy, allow pets.

(AHLA)

With so many people in the United States owning one or more pets and considering them to be part of their family, hotels have had to stay relevant by evolving with the times and welcoming all types of family members—even furry ones with claws.

When a hotel accepts a person and their pet, it builds loyalty, and many pet parents will return to that hotel knowing that their pet is welcomed and well-cared for. Thankfully, it’s not just the luxury hotels that have made this change but midscale and economy hotels too.


7. There are around 3,500 pet-friendly Choice Hotels across the country.

(Choice Hotels)

If you’re looking for a hotel for you and your pet to stay in but don’t know of any pet-friendly ones, your best bet is a Choice Hotel. This hotel chain has 3,500 pet-friendly options across the country and is commonly found in cities known to cater to dogs, such as St. Petersburg in Florida.

woman with her dog at the reception of hotel
Image Credit; RossHelen, Shutterstock

8. 81% of pet parents prefer staying in pet-friendly hotels over other forms of accommodation.

(WagWalking)

Pet-friendly hotels are simply easier for pet parents because they cater to your pet. They usually have outdoor play areas, pet bowls in the hotel rooms, pet beds, and even a pet sitter or walker that is available to look after your fur baby when you go out or do activities. 

Staying in a place that caters to your pet is less stressful and more welcoming. For many pet parents, a friendly staff towards your pet is more important than the cost per night.


9. 10% of people have snuck their pets into a hotel through their luggage.

(Rover)

Unfortunately, not every hotel is going to welcome you and your pet into their rooms, as not all hotels cater to pets nor allow them on their premises. This hasn’t stopped 10% of pet parents, though, who have been adamant about getting their furry besties into their hotel rooms—even if that means sneaking them in through their luggage.  

female guest with dog and baggage at hotel reception
Image Credit: stockfour, Shutterstock

The Struggles of Pets and Transportation

10. 58% of people have found the process of traveling with their pets difficult.

(WagWalking)

It’s not just about how pets will react to new environments and experiences that pet owners have to worry about; it’s also the whole process of getting there. 

Finding the right airline, train, bus, etc., for you and your pet to travel with that caters to their bathroom needs is difficult. Other passengers complaining about your pet is another stressful factor. Things like check-in and getting through security are stressful on your own but even more complicated and time-consuming when you have a pet with you.


11. 38% of pet parents find driving with their pets easier than flying with them.

(Rover)

Sometimes, taking the longer journey is the better option if it means that you don’t have to worry about issues with other travelers, check-in, security complications, and confusion surrounding your pet. All these hurdles can make flying stressful and many pet parents avoid flying with their pets at any cost.

Happy dog in car with leash on, car cover for animal
Image Credit: Kejuliso, Shutterstock

12. 29% of pet owners have reported being distracted by their dogs while behind the wheel.

(Kurgo)

Although the process of traveling with your pet is generally easier when you drive to your destination yourself, there are risks involved. About 29% of pet owners have reported being distracted when on the open road with their dogs. Dogs tend to get bored, restless, or even excited and can become distracting through their behavior. 

Without thinking, drivers will try to calm their dogs down or move them away from climbing into the front of their car while still driving, breaking their concentration and focus. This can be very dangerous, as accidents can occur within seconds. Instead, pet owners should try to pull over and tend to their dog’s needs off the road. 


13. Alaska Airlines is the most popular airline for pet transportation, flying 107,042 pets in one year.

(Veterinarians.org)

Alaska Airlines transported more pets than any other airline in 2020 and had no incidents while doing it. They have quickly gained the trust of many pet parents who continue to fly their pets through this airline. 

Alaska Airlines allows pets that are small enough to fit in an under-seat carrier to fly in the cabin with their pet parent. However, if the pet is too big for the under-seat carrier, they will be required to fly in the baggage compartment, which is also safe and climate controlled. 

Chihuahua dog in transport bag or box ready to travel
Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

14. Between the start of 2015 and the end of 2020, United Airlines reported 45 pet deaths and 42 pet injuries.

(Veterinarians.org)

Over the course of 6 years, United Airlines has transported more than 448,000 animals, but they have also reported 45 pet deaths and 42 pet injuries on their flights. They have an average incident rate of 1.6 and have made it onto the top 3 list for highest incident rates every year. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Travel

Are pets allowed to fly with their pet parents?

On some airlines, certain pets are allowed to fly with their pet parents. Carry-on pets accepted in the cabin are usually only cats or dogs that meet the airline’s size, age, and flight length requirements.

Can an airline refuse to fly a pet in the cabin?

Yes, as not all airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin with their pet parents. The ones that do have requirements that must be met. If your pet isn’t listed as one of the types allowed to fly in the cabin, if their carrier is too small for them, if your pet is too big to fit in the under-seat carrier, or if they’re sick or injured, the airline may refuse to let them fly in the cabin or at all. 

It’s important to research the airline’s requirements beforehand as each airline is different

(FAA)

travelling with pet cat
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

What do pets need to fly?

In some cases, your pet may be required to have a health certificate, identification, copies of your pet’s medical records, and an acclimation certificate for air travel. It’s important to contact your registered veterinarian when you start considering travel plans so that they can do a health check on your pet and sign any documents needed. You should also phone the airline you’re flying with to ask what documentation they require for your pet. 

(AVMA)

What is the best place to travel with a dog?

Italy is considered one of the top dog-friendly countries in the world. They have a high number of pet-friendly hotels, making accommodation easy. Italy also has laws on animal rights and is a low-risk rabies country.

(The Swiftest)

What is the cheapest way to travel with a pet?

The cheapest way to travel with your pet is also the most popular—and it’s traveling with your own car. This means of transportation allows you to pull over and stop whenever your pet needs to use the bathroom or stretch their legs. You won’t have to worry about other passengers, and it’s less stressful for you and your pet. 

However, traveling by car might not be possible if you’re traveling to another country. If you’re keeping your holiday local, just get a carrier and leash for your car to ensure you and your pet are kept safe. 

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Conclusion

More and more people want to take their pets along with them when they go on vacation. Airlines and hotels have had to evolve with this new trend to maintain loyalty with their customers. However, even with the rise in pet-friendly hotels, pet owners still find traveling with their pets difficult for several reasons. Many have resorted to driving over flying with their pets, and some pet owners choose to rather holiday at home with their pets than go on vacation without them.

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Featured Image Credit: javier brosch, Shutterstock

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