Tips For Travelling With Your ESA This Holiday
Whether you’re traveling during busy holiday periods or at any other time of the year, you need to do a bit of forward planning, preparation, packing for a trip. This is a little more so if you’re hoping to fly with an emotional support animal (ESA).
Your emotional support animal will be coming with you on your journey to help you get through the travel and safely get to your destination. To make the trip as easy as possible for both yourself and your animal, here are some tips for travel:
Prepare and Plan Ahead
A little preparation and planning will go a long way towards making your journey smooth. When you’re traveling with an animal, usually the most direct route is the best plan of action and less stress for both of you. Things to include in your planning and preparation are:
Make sure you have an ESA letter that is current and issued by a licensed mental health professional (here is how to ask doctor for emotional support animal). This letter will verify that your animal provides emotional support to you for your condition. To be current ESA letters must have been issued within the past 12 months. If you need a new letter, make sure you allow enough time for the consultation with a licensed health professional and the issue of the letter.
Find Out ESA Policies and Procedures
Check the ESA policies of any types of transportation, accommodation, and rest stops or restaurants you plan to stop at.
Airlines all have different policies on having emotional support animals on board flights. Check that the carrier that you want to fly with will accept your species and breed of ESA in the cabin. They may also have requirements around the size and construction of pet carriers, and where pets can be safely accommodated in the cabin during the flight.
Carriers will usually always require your ESA letter. Other documentation requirements may include veterinarian’s health certificate to verify your animal is okay to fly, and a statement from you to confirm you will look after the animal and manage their behavior at all times. Documentation is usually required at least 48 hours in advance.
Look online for a map of the airline terminals you will be passing through for pet relief areas. That way you can make sure your pet can go to the toilet immediately before and after the flight.
If you will be staying in hotel accommodation or expect to be eating out in restaurants, do a search online on sites such as Go Fido for pet-friendly places to stay and stop.
Get a Vet Check
Get your pet checked by a vet ahead a week or two before you travel. That way you know they are healthy and well and up to the journey. You can also ask for a health certificate and records of any vaccinations in case you need them en route. Your vet may make specific recommendations for ways to look after the needs of your animal while you are traveling.
Train to Behave
One of the conditions of travel on airlines can be that an emotional support animal doesn’t disrupt the flight, or pose a risk to other passengers. Make sure, particularly if you have an emotional support dog, that they understand basic commands and are well mannered in public settings. If they are out of control or aggressive, they are not likely to be able to remain on the flight or travel with you again!
Check Your Harnesses and Pet Carriers
Make sure any leashes and harnesses you use are all in good working order and will help you keep your emotional support animal by your side. If you are using a pet carrier, ensure the bottom is leak-proof and the right size for your pet and airline.
You are likely to need a few supplies while you are traveling with your emotional support animal to make their journey comfortable and safe. Items you may need are:
Make sure your pet has a collar with their name, your name, and a number to reach you while you are traveling. You will be keeping your ESA with you during travel, but in case you do get separated this will help with reuniting you both.
Food and Water
Usually, you won’t be feeding a pet a large meal before you travel to reduce the risk of “accidents”. Do bring some of their regular food though in case you need it or are delayed. Water is a must, plane cabins can be dehydrating to you and your pet.
Bring along a favorite toy or familiar smelling blanket that may give your pet some reassurance and comfort if they need it. Treats in small quantities can also be useful to reward good behavior.
Clean Up Items
If your animal does have an accident in flight, or on the way to and from designated pet relief areas inside terminals pack some cleanup gear. Wet wipes and poop bags don’t take up much room and keep things hygienic for everyone. If you are on a long flight where your pet will be drinking more water, a diaper can be a good idea.
On The Day of Travel
If not on the day before, on the day of travel make sure your animal is clean and tidy. No one likes to sit next to a smelly dog or smelly cat in a confined space such as an airplane!
Remember to take your ESA to the toilet before you board, and as soon as you get off the flight. Anticipate their needs. If they have been thirsty in transit, chances are they are going to need a toilet stop somewhere sooner rather than later!
Be by your emotional support animal’s side at all times. This not only helps you manage your own condition, but it also reassures others who are traveling who may not be comfortable in the presence of animals that you are looking after your animal’s needs, as they are of yours.