Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal


Let's be real, the act of traveling can be crazy stressful. Despite the awesome payoffs of being able to see family and friends or experience a new country, or even new state of our beautiful country it's still a lot! But traveling with your emotional support animal can take the stress up a whole other notch, especially when you don't know what to expect.

Despite this, with a little preparation (and the help of this article!) you can totally nail this whole traveling with your ESA thing! We're going to take you through the process of getting ready to travel by plane with an ESA step-by-step, so that a trip with your emotional support animal will be a piece of cake.

We'll be focusing on air travel here, as unfortunately bus and train travel can be a little more limited for ESAs at this time. Get ready to travel!

Documents at the Ready!

A key part of flying with your ESA is having all the paperwork you'll need ready to go. What you will need depends on your airline, but as a general rule you should have:

An ESA letter

A copy of your airline confirmation that you will be traveling with your ESA
A signed statement that confirms your liability for your animal and your animal's behavior
A printed copy of your airline's policy and the Aircraft Carrier Access (ACA) act for your records
Having all these things ready to go before even popping 'airport' in as your Uber destination is going to make your trip much smoother!

Prep at Home

The location that makes the most difference to your travel stress level? Believe it or not, it's actually your home. With some preparation at home before leaving to travel, you will have a far better experience than just winging the whole things. Here are some tips to help you get your ESA ready before jetting off.

Carrier Training: A Must

Many pet parents will be quick to agree that carrier training, in general, is an excellent step in owning a well-adjusted pet. Carrier training can help an ESA to feel safe and calm, which is a great thing day-to-day, and especially at the airport! Start by letting your pet become familiar with its carrier, by leaving it open in the room where you spend the most time. You can then entice your pet into going inside using snacks and treats.

Keep using positive motivation to get them comfortable with the door being shut. The aim from here is to build up the time that your pet spends comfortably inside their carrier to real flight plus airport admin time, in order to be prepped for your flight. Just remember—treats are your friend during this training exercise!

Socialize Your Pet

Every owner should take the time to socialize their pet, for the good of their pet and their own peace of mind. Well-socialized pets are happy pets, that are adaptable in many different situations, exactly what is needed when encountering a place as hectic as the airport!

Try taking your ESA to the park, having friends over and other challenging situations to expose your pet to new situations, building up their acceptance and tolerance to these and improving their behavior.

Do a Test Run

An excellent tip when traveling with an ESA is to do a 'dry run' of your trip. Try getting your pet into its carrier and going on a long drive to simulate air travel. It's a great way to accustom your pet to the rumbling vibrations of a vehicle that they will experience during a flight.

Remember, try not to interact with your pet during this process, as it's vital they are comfortable in their carrier during transit without you to comfort them.

Airport at Home

We love a sneaky hack, and this is definitely a great one! In order to get your ESA used to the terrifying sounds of an airport (seriously, they can be scary for our fur buds!) try this handy tip: play ambient airport sounds at home. This helps your ESA to get accustomed to the noises they will hear on the big day which should hopefully lessen their anxiety.

Pack Everything, and Then Some

When traveling with your ESA, it's essential to over pack rather than under pack. You'll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders when you know you've got everything you need and more to cover every situation that may arise. Just follow this handy list:

Your pet's favorite toys and bedding
Litter box or waste bags
Leash/harness/collar
Travel carrier
Food and treats with collapsible travel bowls
Drinking water (Especially if you’re going to be on a long road trip or journey during which water wont’ be readily available)
Medications and medical/vaccine records
A formal health certificate from your vet if necessary (many airlines require one)
Towel (for cleaning up messes or wiping wet paws)
Travel throw (to serve as a blanket or car seat cover)
Grooming supplies
Pet first aid kit

Traveling is a vital part of our lives in this day and age, and doing it without your pet is not always feasible, or desirable! With these tips to help prep your ESA for flying, you don't need to have fear of travel anymore. Remember to always do your research on the airline (american airlines pet travel)Feel free to bring your best bud to enjoy your wanderlust and time with loved ones!

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