He’s not just your pet. He’s your baby. Your family. But they’re even more than that. Your pet is also your comfort. Your companion. Your protector. He makes your life possible.
We’re talking about your emotional support animal (ESA). Your pet is your oasis of peace and calm when your mind is a roiling sea of panic and terror. To be separated from your pet for a few hours is a white-knuckle experience. To be separated from him for days is unthinkable.
But what if your plans include international travel? What do you need to do to ensure that you can travel safely and hassle-free with your ESA? This article discusses the steps you need to take when you travel abroad with your ESA.
Know the Country’s Animal Import Policies
The first and most important thing you can do when you are preparing for international travel with your ESA is to do your homework. First of all, familiarize yourself with the animal policies in place in your destination country.
The Philippines, for example, have strict regulations for animals entering their country. You’ll need to obtain an animal import permit from the Philippine government. In addition, you’ll need a certificate of health issued from a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of the trip, and you’ll also need a vaccination record to prove your ESA is current on all his shots. Keep these documents with you at all times. Otherwise, even with your ESA paperwork in hand, you’ll risk having your fur baby confiscated and put into quarantine.
When you’re preparing for a big, international trip, you don’t need to just worry about the destination point. You also need to carefully plan how you’re going to get there.
If you’re traveling by train, for example, the operator is not likely going to recognize or honor your ESA paperwork. Most railway companies only permit licensed service or therapy animals on-board their trains.
Thankfully, many airlines do permit certain species of ESAs in the cabin during passenger flights. Once again, however, it’s imperative to plan ahead and ensure you have the documents you need in hand before you board.
United Airlines, for example, allows most ESAs on their flights in the cabin with you provided that you have your animal’s ESA documentation and that your ESA can sit comfortably under your seat without protruding into the aisle of the cabin. You’ll need to provide at least 48 hours’ notice to the United Accessibility Desk, however, to ensure everything is in place for you and your ESAs arrival.
Booking your flight early can not only help you get the best rates, but it can also help you choose the best airline for you and your pet. Take some time to research not only the travel service providers but also hotels, restaurants, and shops to see what their ESA policies are.
Pay particular attention to customer reviews, focusing on patrons who’ve brought their own ESAs to see how prepared and accommodating the business really is. After all,why would you want to support a business where your sweet ESA isn’t as welcome as you are?
There’s no doubt about it. Traveling is stressful. International travel is even more so, and as much of a comfort as your ESA is, it’s almost inevitable that you and your animal will encounter some static and hit a few snags along the way.
While your ESA provides the emotional support you need, it’s important to return the favor by doing your best to manage your own stress. Your ESA knows you. He can read you like a book, and when you’re traveling, as calm and steady a presence as your ESA may be to you, your animal will feel some anxiety as well as he takes in all these new and unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Give both your ESA and yourself the gift of mindfulness while you travel.
Practice deep, meditative breathing when you feel your stress levels beginning to rise. Try to remain in the present and not allow your worries to overwhelm you. Take in the novelty of your situation and embrace it as an adventure. If you can have fun along the journey, your ESA will too!
Traveling abroad with your emotional support animal is not exactly easy. It takes planning and preparation. It means understanding the rules and regulations of your destination country and all the stops you may make along the way. It requires having all the documentation you need in hand before you set off, and knowing your rights, both at home and abroad.
This might seem like a daunting challenge, but, in the end, it will be worth it. No matter where you are going or why, with a little preparation, you and your emotional support animal can share the adventure of a lifetime!