The holiday season is upon us. But while this is often heralded as “the most wonderful time of the year,” that may not be the case for pet owners – accounting for two-thirds of Americans – and their pets, who are left to navigate the frenzy of holiday travel or choose to stay home. 

In our last report on holiday travel for pet owners, CivicScience found cost to be a key prohibitive factor for many pet owners considering travel, with airlines losing out on pet owners who lacked options. So, what are holiday travelers planning to do with their pets this year, and have preferences changed over time? Here’s what the most recent data from the CivicScience InsightStore show:  

Pet Owners Less Likely to Travel This Year

Traveling with pets isn’t always a walk in the park, and this year’s data underscore this. For one, this year’s holiday travelers are slightly less likely than non-travelers to be pet owners.

Join the Conversation: Have you ever traveled with your pet inside of an airplane cabin? 🛫

Secondly, more pet parents are likely to forgo travel this year compared to last year. Currently, 25% of pet owners say that owning a pet may prevent them from traveling this holiday season (with 10% who say it ‘definitely’ will). This is up from a total of 23% who said the same two years ago.

The data also show that 42% of pet owners say that having a pet prevents them from general travel via planes at least some of the time, up from 39% who said the same in 2021. In a similar vein, 34% say that being a pet owner prevents them from staying at a hotel, up two percentage points from 2021. 

In short, there are several obstacles that pet owners face when choosing to travel with their pets, and these concerns have only grown with time. 

Despite the various challenges of traveling with a pet, more pet owners who do plan to travel for the holidays are opting to take their furry friends with them this year, up three points to 32% since our last report in 2021. Who are these bold pet owners choosing to jump the many hurdles of travel? 

Pandemic Pet Parents Will Travel More, but Leave Their Pets at Home 

Overall, newer pet owners are far more likely to travel. Currently, 49% of those who became pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic say they will travel this holiday season, compared to just 23% of those who were pet owners before the pandemic.

Among holiday travelers, these more recent pet parents make up a much larger percentage of those who will be pursuing pet care options such as boarding their pets, something that pet parents who have had their pets since before 2020 very rarely do. By contrast, those with pets before the pandemic are more than twice as likely to take their pets with them.

Of course, there are nuances based on pet ownership. For example, cat owners are much more likely than dog owners to say that owning a pet will impact their travel plans this holiday season. 

It’s Not (Just) About the Money  

Perhaps not surprisingly, money continues to be a concern, with lower-income pet owners expressing more hesitation around traveling with their furry friends. For example, 19% of pet owners who earn less than $50K per year will ‘definitely’ not be traveling due to having pets, versus just 13% of pet owners who earn more than $100K annually.

But with many choosing to leave their pets with family and friends this holiday season – 31% are opting for this now, up two percentage points from 2021 – where there’s a will to find more affordable pet care options, there is definitely a way. 

It’s safe to say that although money does continue to create friction for many Americans considering whether or not to travel with their pets this year, Americans are now, more than ever, seeking cost-effective ways to make the holiday season merry and bright for everyone in the family.

Take Our Poll: When you go on vacation / leave town, what do you typically do with your pet(s)? 🐕 🐈

Interested in seeing more insights like these? CivicScience has a constant pulse on the latest holiday trends via our database of over 4 million U.S. survey responses daily. To learn how you can access our real-time consumer insights, get in touch.