Going on a family vacation is one of the great joys of summer. But should you take your dog?

Among the many considerations, be aware that bringing along your pooch can incur a surprising number of expenses. Here's a look at some of them. 

Prepping to Go

Visit the vet. Before hitting the road, you may need to pay for a special trip to the vet. If you’re flying, you’ll need a health certificate to show the airline that your pet is fit for the trip. That will run you the cost of an office visit and any treatment needed to get your dog healthy, says Leila Coe, a travel consultant with World Class Travel, an agency based in Gainesville, Fla.

Insert a microchip. If your dog doesn’t have a microchip, that's something else you could get, suggests Susan Smith, president of the pet-travel website PetTravel.com. If your dog escapes in a strange place, a microchip will make it easier to track him down. The cost of inserting a microchip into a pet runs about $45, according to the pet adoption organization Petfinder.

Give your dog a flea bath. If you’ll be staying in a hotel or renting a car, it might be smart to take precautions and pony up for a flea treatment (about $10 to $15, according to various vets) lest you leave critters behind and get charged a cleaning fee, Smith says.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Take your dog on your flight. Much of the cost of traveling with your pooch comes down to transportation. Airlines usually charge around $125 one way to bring a dog in the cabin. You’ll need to buy an airline-compliant pet carrier if you don’t have one. They range from $50 to $250 depending on the size of the dog, Smith says. And you may need to pay to check your suitcase because your pet counts as a carry-on. 

Some airlines (including the major carriers) will no longer allow dogs too big for an airline cabin to travel in the luggage hold. Instead, they have to travel as cargo. That means that when you arrive, you'll have to go to the cargo area of the airport to get your dog rather than have your dog arrive with your other luggage.

More on Travel

Flying a dog in cargo can be expensive. The amount you'll have to pay varies by the airline as well as by the weight and size of the dog. But it can be several hundred to over a thousand dollars each way for a domestic flight and even more for international flights. (PetTravel.com lists what airlines charge.) Plus, you’ll need to buy a sturdy crate (which could run $50 to $150) to keep your pet safe, Smith says, so don’t skimp on quality.

Consider a road trip. Even if you decide to cut costs by driving, you could have still have some expenses. “You buckle up the rest of your family; you also need to buckle up your pet,” says Kim Salerno, founder and president of the pet-travel website TripsWithPets.com. If you don’t own a harness seat belt, doggy car seat, or pet barrier, add that to the list of vacation costs. A harness seat belt could run about $35, Salerno says.

Travel by train. Another option to consider is traveling by train. Amtrak allows dogs and cats onboard, but they must weigh 20 pounds or less and can go only on trips of less than 7 hours. The cost: $25. 

Take to the seas. You also might be able to take your four-legged friend by sea. Though most cruise ships don’t allow dogs, the trans-Atlantic Queen Mary 2 does have a small kennel. Pet passage runs $800 to $1,000, and space in the kennel can sell out a year in advance, Coe says.

Sightseeing by Car

A great way to get the lay of the land might be to rent a car so that you can see the sites or get to the nearest beach. The good news is that most rental companies are pet-friendly and don’t charge additional fees. The hitch is that you might get a bill on the back end if you return the car covered in hair or fur. Smith recommends bringing a sheet to put over the seat or visiting a car wash for a good vacuuming before you drop off the rental. (Find out how to rent a car without getting your wallet emptied.)

Staying Overnight

Hotels and motels. Most will charge a pet fee (and may limit dog size). Amy Burkert, who runs the pet-travel website GoPetFriendly.com, considers $20 per night per pet to be reasonable, although some hotels charge $100 or more. On the other end of the spectrum are chains that let pets stay free: Aloft, Kimpton, La Quinta, Motel 6, and Red Roof.

And hotels may impose restrictions. “A lot of hotels say they’re pet-friendly, but then they don’t let you leave your dog unattended,” Coe says. If you want to have dog-free time on your trip, you may need to factor in the price of a local doggy day care. We found prices that ranged from $15 per day to $40 depending on location.

Rent a vacation house. This would probably give your pooch more space to run around. But you should still expect to pay about the same in pet fees as you would at a hotel—and you'll probably need to make a refundable deposit just in case your pet does any damage.

Fido Can Save You Money, Too

Of course, there’s plenty you can do with your dog free of charge. The website TripsWithPets.com offers a state-by-state database of pet-friendly activities and locations. Your dog, for example, can join you for an architectural tour of Savannah, Ga., a lakefront speed boat tour of Chicago, or a visit to boutique wineries in, say, Calistoga, Calif., at no additional cost.

Another option Burkert recommends is renting an RV and staying at a campground, few of which charge fees to bring along a dog. Companies that rent RVs will probably put a hold on your credit card as a deposit, but as long as you return the vehicle damage- and fur-free, you should get your money back.

Last year Burkert used one for a 15,000-mile road trip with her husband and two dogs to find America’s top pet-friendly attractions. She points to one cost saving that may come from traveling with your pet.

“Instead of museums and expensive restaurants, the activities I choose tend to be more outdoorsy and active," Burkert says. You and your pooch can tour places like the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas; and the Grand Canyon in Arizona—and it won't cost a penny.