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Dec. 8, 2020, 5:01 a.m. EST

Traveling with Fido? How to find a pet-friendly hotel

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Sam Kemmis

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

Traveling with pets can seem like a daunting task. Hotel pet policies are complicated, inconsistent and full of gotcha fees. But with a bit of preparation and an understanding of how the policies work, you can avoid these costs and headaches.

Here’s the basics of staying at hotels with your pets.

A pet-friendly hotel is generally one that allows some animals on the property under some conditions. However:

Make sure to check the specific policy for the hotel property you’re considering before clicking “book.”

Generally, each hotel property has its own pet policy. There is no blanket pet policy for, say, every Holiday Inn. Every Holiday Inn location has its own policy.

Related: An expert’s guide to road-tripping with your dog

These policies have become so complex, a mini-online industry has sprung up around providing clear, easy-to-understand information about specific policies. Sites such as BringFido and Petswelcome host individual pages for each hotel property with reviews from pet owners and a simple summary of the pet policy. Here’s an example from BringFido:

These sites are a great resource. The only drawback is that they are updated manually, so if a property changes its pet policy, it may not be immediately reflected. To ensure you’re getting the correct information:

Although individual hotel properties often have their own pet policies, some hotel chains and brands are generally more pet-friendly than others.

As traveling with pets becomes more common, more hotel brands are pitching themselves as pet-friendly while charging exorbitant pet fees, which are often buried in the fine print. To shed some light on these fees, we compared dozens of properties within seven major hotel brands to see which charged the lowest pet fees.

The differences between brands are striking. Radisson and IHG each charge about $30 on average per night in pet fees, while Hyatt and Marriott charge more than $90 per night, on average.

More: Keep your dog safe when you travel—here are some pointers

Keep in mind that these are average fees, and the actual rates vary significantly from property to property. Still, it gives travelers with pets a good understanding of which brands to target and which to avoid altogether when planning where to stay.

Pets are part of the family, so why board them when you go on vacation? Although hotel pet policies can seem like a complex maze, they are easier to understand and navigate once you know the basics.

Read next: The CDC is now urging Americans to get tested if they must travel for Christmas or Hanukkah — here’s how

Use a third party website to check individual property pet policies, target brands like Kimpton and Aloft that are truly pet-friendly, and watch out for sky-high pet fees from some big-name hotels.

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Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif.

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