Regarding GMRS - I forgot to mention that the $85 license covers all of your immediate relatives (spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws). I'm sure dogs & cats are covered in there too.
Also, I've done testing on a number of different FRS/GMRS radios and they do vary in performance. From my experience, a decent GMRS radio should get you at least a mile in a congested city area with trees vs. about a half-mile for FRS. Out where it's fairly flat terrain (not alot of trees or buildings) your range can be alot better. I found certain FRS/GMRS radios from Midland and Uniden to give the best performance for the money, though I've not tried Cobra. If you want the best and can afford it, Kenwood and Icom make some pro grade equipment that's really nice.