What Is The Cheapest Way to Transport a Dog Across the Country?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated November 7, 2023
cheapest, transport, dog, country.

Transporting a dog across the country is hard work. There are a lot of logistics to take care of during the process. From choosing a method that is right for you to buying equipment that is best for your dog, things can get overwhelming. We’ll outline the costs for each method and recommend some essential products that can ease your stress.

How Much To Expect to Pay for Cross-Country Dog Transport

Each method of pet transport has its own price tag. Let’s take a look at each one, depending on whether you need to ship a small dog or a large dog.

A young couple with a dog in their backyard.

Options for Transporting a Small Dog Cross-Country

Air Travel

  • Air travel is the fastest way to transport a dog across the country.
  • Smaller pets (generally under about 25 pounds including the carrier) have the advantage because they can ride in the cabin under the seat in front of you.
  • Your dog’s carrier, which costs about $50, must be small enough to fit inside and underneath the seat in front of you.
  • There can only be one or two dogs per flight in the cabin, so make sure you call in advance to book your dog.
  • The total one-way amount for airlines like United, Delta, and American costs $125.

Train Travel

  • Amtrak allows pet transportation for cats and dogs only.
  • Restrictions limit transport to small dogs because they have to fit in a carrier underneath your seat. Besides the carrier, the total cost of having your small dog riding with you is $25 plus your ticket.

Pet Ground Transport

  • A traditional transport service is an easy option to consider.
  • Several factors determine the cost: distance, pet size/breeds, health documentation and equipment needs.

Driving Yourself

  • This option is the easiest because there are no restrictions on which dogs are allowed.
  • Many variables include accommodation, food expenses, car wear and tear and gas costs.
  • You’ll also have to deal with potty breaks and dog stresses during the car ride.

A young couple and their dog on the front porch of their home.

Options for Transporting a Large Dog Cross-Country

Air Travel

  • Larger dogs are disadvantaged over smaller dogs because they must go in the cargo hold.
  • They should be in special crates, which cost about $100-$200.
  • The cost of transporting your dog in the cargo hold ranges from $500-$1000, but the exact charges are determined at the time of booking.

Train Travel

Unfortunately, Amtrak prohibits large dogs because they have to fit in a carrier underneath your seat.

Pet Ground Transport

  • Since the factors that determine the cost include pet size and breed, the costs for this option will be higher than for a smaller dog.
  • When doing your research in choosing a pet ground transport company, beware of fake shipping companies.
  • You check IPATA for informative articles and trustworthy pet shipping companies.

Driving Yourself

  • Driving a large dog across the country is more challenging than doing it with a small dog.
  • The same variables apply — accommodation, food expenses, car wear and tear, and gas costs.
  • However, because your dog is larger, you will need to stop more often for potty breaks, walks and ensure your dog isn’t as stressed of being in a confined space for a long time.

What’s the Most Affordable Way to Transport a Dog Across the Country?

The most affordable way to transport a dog across the country is using a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper. This route is smart because drivers compete for your business. The drivers are background-checked, so they are reputable and trustworthy. You can get free quotes after posting your pet’s transport information on the website.

Product Recommendations for Cross-Country Pet Transport

We recommend several products for transporting a pet across the country. Here they are:  

Airline-Approved Pet Travel Bag

  • It’s durable, safe, and water-repellent.
  • It’s multi-functional with lots of storage.
  • It can carry food, water, leashes, and other essential items.


Native Pet Calming Chews for Dogs

  • They are recommended for travel or other anxiety-prone events.
  • They calm your dog but also work as a sleeping aid for restless pups.
  • Safe for dogs to chew and eat.

 ARCA Pet Cat and Dog First Aid Kit



  • You can use this first aid kit in all types of situations.
  • It contains an emergency pet thermometer, emergency collar, tick remover, a mini pouch, and many other essential items.

Why CitizenShipper Is the Best Place to Find Affordable Pet Transportation

CitizenShipper is the best place to ensure affordable pet transportation because drivers compete for your business. We have thousands of reviews on TrustPilot, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5.

Our platform offers many advantages over traditional pet transporters:

  • Drivers are background-checked and USDA-registered drivers who will send you quotes within minutes when you post your pet’s transport.
  • Compare bids and chat with drivers across our network before you book your trip.
  • You can discuss your transport details directly with the driver using our instant messaging system. The driver will also give you updates while on their journey.

 You can save up to 60-70% compared to traditional shipping services by using CitizenShipper. Don’t just pick the cheapest bid because sometimes the better, more trusted drivers charge a little more. You should always read reviews and the driver profiles.

Other Benefits of Using CitizenShipper

Being the #1 pet transporter, CitizenShipper provides some amazing added benefits. This includes a $1,000 Pet Protection Guarantee, Booking Assurance Guarantee, direct communication with the driver who provides updates and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

Bottom Line

If you want a hassle-free, transparent process, booking a driver through CitizenShipper is for you. It’s affordable, and there are no hidden fees. Most importantly, your driver will make sure your pup is properly taken care of. Don’t hesitate to post your pup’s transport now and get free quotes in a jiffy!