This post is a bit longer than usual, but I hope it helps those humans whose pets are jet setters! I fly with Tucker every few months so I’ve definitely had my fair share of mistakes that involve him and airports. Below is a list of the things I like to bring onto the plane for him. Basically, it’s Tucker’s plane survival guide. I’m lucky in that Tucker is (generally speaking) a pretty good traveler and he always gets excited when his bag comes out of the closet.
Travel bag: If you follow the blog on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen Tucker’s travel bag before. It’s from Doggystyle in New York City and was around $200. It’s a bit more expensive than some people might want to pay, but it’s extremely durable and has plenty of room for him (plus, it’s stylish). I’ve had it for over a year and it doesn’t have any damage to it. I had another less costly bag for Tucker prior to this one, but one of its handles ended up breaking after using it for only a few months. If you travel a lot with a pet like I do, it’s worth it to spend some extra money on a dog-friendly travel bag. It’s a piece of luggage after all. I also use it a ton in the city whenever I take Tucker shopping with me or on the subway so it has multiple uses. I’ll do a post in the future about my favorite dog bags.
Leash and harness/collar: Some dog owners will actually walk their pet through the airport when they travel, which makes sense if the dog weighs more. Since Tucker is only 7 pounds, he stays in the bag when we’re physically in the airport. I also get freaked out when I think about all the germs he could get from the airport floor. The leash and harness is useful once we’re outside of the airport so that Tucker can go to the bathroom after long flights.
Pee pads: As a puppy, Tucker was trained on pee pads so it’s easy to use them in the airport before and in between flights. I bring at least 3 pads with me to be on the safe side and since they’re usually folded up, I can stash them in my laptop bag until they need to be used. Depending on the length of our trip, I typically try to find a family bathroom at least once so that he can use the space to focus on going to the bathroom. I’ll use regular bathrooms if I have to, but Tucker tends to get distracted by all that is going on in the stalls, which can get frustrating. As a last resort, if there is a less crowded gate around me, I’ll take Tucker to a quiet corner and put a pee pad down for him (here are the pee pads I buy).
Toys: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I like to keep Tucker occupied when we’re traveling. Does he really play with toys on the plane? Not usually, but I want him to have a comfort of home in a less familiar environment like an airport. I bring one toy that he can squeak or cuddle with and a second toy that he can chew on. Tucker likes his options (here are the keys he loves).
Water/treats: This one is super important! I stuck Tucker’s water bowl on this list because sometimes I will bring it in my carry-on. However, since Tucker is small and can drink out of a water bottle cap, I will usually just buy a water bottle once through security and pack his bowl in my checked bag. You can also get some water during drink service once you’re on the plane. Another option is to bring an empty water bottle in your carry-on and then fill it up once through security. That saves you the $5 it costs to buy one in those overpriced airport convenience stores. In addition, I’ll make sure to have some small treats (not pictured because Tucker kept trying to swipe them) in my carry-on to distract Tucker if he gets a little agitated. If I don’t pack treats, I’ll grab either some pretzels or cereal (like plain Cheerios) once I’m through security.
ESA papers: Since I absolutely hate flying, Tucker is an emotional support animal so I always make sure to bring his papers with me. The papers let the airline’s employees know that he can sit on my lap throughout the flight as a means of comfort. And Tucker takes his job seriously. I’ve read that dogs can sense when humans are anxious or nervous and so once we’re physically on the plane, Tucker starts licking my hands. It keeps me focused on him and makes the flight less hectic. Plus, for those of you who have dogs or cats, you probably understand how therapeutic it is to simply pet them. I know some people are against emotional support animals because they think that the majority of their owners are just faking a psychological illness in order to avoid the extra pet charge on airplanes. It makes me sad and frustrated when I hear that because there are plenty of people who truly get relief from their pets not only on plane flights, but in countless other stressful situations. There are several pieces of information the registration papers must have, but basically a pet’s ESA status has to be renewed every year and the owner must have proof from a licensed mental professional regarding a mental ailment.
Small blanket: Just as with his toys, the blanket reminds Tucker of home. The one above is actually a baby blanket, but it is Tucker’s designated travel blanket. It’s smaller and fits easily into his travel bag so that he can curl up while we’re waiting to board. If I don’t have a sweater or a large scarf with me on the flight, I put the blanket on my lap so that he’s more comfortable.