I am going to visit my family in Kentucky soon! I'll get to spend time with my cousins, aunts (except one, who lives in California), uncles, grandparents, sister, niece, parents... pretty much the entire family. It's pretty exciting. Buuuuuut, traveling can be difficult with a chronic illness as you know. So I'm going to show you how I pack to be prepared for anything that might come up during travel, and while I am away from home. For both myself and the wonder pups that will be showing up in the photos (they thought we were leaving because they know the drill for when it's time to get gone... which means that they didn't want to be left behind and were pretty much underfoot most of the night I was taking the photos for this and a few other of the posts in this series). I will have a post on how I pack the pups, how I pack my carry on, my go-to packing lists, and what I do the week of my trip to prepare my body for the stress of travel. I will end the series with a post on anything that comes up during the trip to KY.
Let's start with how I pack the dogs...
Aren't they adorable? How could I leave them behind!?! I couldn't is the answer. They are well seasoned travelers at this point and actually love traveling most of the time (grandmas and great-grandmas spoil them rotten so why wouldn't they love visiting?). Those who ask why not kennel them and travel lighter... have you seen kennel fees? With my girls being so small we can travel for cheaper usually and I never have issues with them at airports. People often don't even realize I have them until they look closely or one of them moves and it catches their eye. Also, I don't like leaving them with people I don't know or exposing them potentially to kennel cough or other nasty bugs unnecessarily. I do their grooming at home typically as well to save money, reduce the stress on them and keep them healthy.
When the girls and I travel we always attach a medical ID card to their carrier as well as my carry-on, just in case. I sometimes have their ID cards attached as well but typically I carry those in my wallet (I am STILL waiting on ones with updated addresses... come on HomeAgain, get your act together). I prefer to have their collars outside the bag so that I can prove their shots quickly if asked without having to take the girls out of the kennel in the middle of the airport (airport people don't like it when you do that). Plus they are a little heavier than I would like on my small pups since where I am currently living has A LOT of required tags. For this reason when I am home and they are just relaxing I often remove the collars. We are on the second floor right now so they won't get out and be lost and even if they did they are both micro-chipped with HomeAgain per our last duty station's regulations so it will be easy to identify that they are mine and contact me if something were to happen. I will go into what they need in my carry-on bag in bit. Just as an FYI, you will have to take them out when you go through TSA as well as have your hands wiped for explosive residue (or whatever that test is... that's what they said it was for last time) which takes a few more minutes so budget your time for that.
Now, before anyone complains that the kennel/bag is too small for my babies let me just say this: I wish I could take two kennels/bags so my babies could stretch out and enjoy the flight but the airline won't let me (and it is quite expensive as well). Now that I am single I am only allowed to pay for one carry-on pet kennel allowance since I only have one seat to place it under. They sleep the entire time once we are settled on the plane, I do not make them stay in it one second longer than absolutely mandated (so we get on the leads as soon as we leave the airport doors), and it is a lot roomier than it looks due to the sides expanding and they travel in it with the part you are looking at facing the ceiling so they get the entire 'height' as the length instead... plus my babies are both pretty small and they can (and do) turn around in the carrier. They just can't do a whole lot of moving about during the trip, which I hate but I can't move a lot in the airplane seat either and its better that they spend a few hours sleeping in close quarters than days in a kennel upset and not eating. Isabel doesn't eat we when I'm not around I found out when I went for a visit with a friend and left her with my mom, who she loves and knows well. All that being said- if you can take one kennel per dog that is, without a doubt, ideal and the best practice to stick with. A lot of airlines have made this the rule anyways so please check and ensure that if you are traveling within the guidelines for your airline. Further, if you have a layover and there is a pet relief area please, please let them out to stretch if at all possible. Just like we like to stretch after sitting for so long they need to as well. They also need to be able to relieve themselves and be comforted by seeing you again after being locked away beneath the seat for the duration of the flight. Traveling with a pet is not easy and making sure to bring them the best comfort you can is very important to their well-being. My Roxy LOVES her bag and tried to jump in it as soon as she saw it when I took the picture above actually (I had to hold her so that I could get a good picture and not hyper puppy blur) and will often go lie down inside it if I forget to put it back in the SUV after cleaning it just like with her pup-tent (collapsible pen). She has traveled with her sister inside it before without issue BUT not all dogs/pets will be able to do so. Now that that has been said... back to packing...
First off, their leads/leashes... super important. I never pack them in the check-luggage as it has gotten lost before and then you end up needing to go purchase new ones until the ones you packed are delivered back to you (hopefully). You will also need the leads in any pet relief area and once you arrive at the airport when you let them out of the carrier so bringing a set is imperative. Wasted money I could be spending on having fun on my vacation in my opinion. In the side pockets of their I-Go-2 Plus I have each of the leads... one side has the lead with the attached canvas bowl and plastic waste bags and the other side has the lead with the harness for my super excited pup. These stay on the leads full time for the walks we have been trying to get in lately so that I don't have to worry about getting it on and off every time we leave the house.
I always make sure they have water available. Roxy is an excited pant-er so she needs water often when we travel (or when I get home, or when we go to Grandmas, or when we go to the dog park... you get the idea). Isabel takes a little more work to get to drink when we are out of the house but it is important that all three of us stay hydrated. I like the H2O4K9 bottle I have now the best out of all the bottles we have used over the years as it is stainless steel and has a drinking cup for them built right in that allows me to return any water that was not drunk to the bottle. Neither my own nor the dogs' water bottles are full when we go through TSA of course so one of the first stops on the other side is to get water for all of us.
Hi Roxy! She was insistent on being right there every second in case we were leaving so that she could come... she knows the packing drill. :)
In my carry-on they have their H2O4K9 and a small bag that has their medications (other than the Benadryl Roxy needs in Kentucky for allergies... which is in my 'liquids and gels' bag for TSA purposes) along with anything needed to administer them, several potty pads and extra waste bags, a lead coupler, their brush and toothbrush, thier medical records on a zip drive along with an abbreviates version in thier 'passports', a couple of toys including Isabel's orange ball (that we must not EVER lose for fear of the freak out session that would surely ensue... think baby's lost teddy bear at bedtime but 24/7), food for one day and a couple of treats just in case. In the photo I do not have the toys because the dogs are playing with them or treats because I forgot to grab them from the packing prep area I had assembled.
In my main suitcase we have their collapsible pen, a single and double Popware feeder (single for water and double for feeding... traveling with one dog would just need a double), some more potty pads and food for the trip. Since we are only going for a few days I am going to be trying to pack their Gamma2 TravelTainer so that I don't have to go buy food once I arrive as it will store enough food for them for 3-4 days. You could also use some gallon sized ziplock bags but I don't have any right now and I do have the TravelTainer. If I am able to fit it in my suitcase then I will leave behind the double Popware feeder as the TravelTainer has built in bowls I can feed the girls with (if you have one pet you don't need a water bowl either!). If you want reviews on any of the items I use with my pups let me know and I will write one... most of these items I have been using for YEARS and I love them all. I pulled the links from the purchases sections on my Amazon account (ran a search for 'pet' to see everything I had purchased for them over the years) so these are the exact models I have right now. As always, check around for better prices or alternatives if something doesn't quite fit what you are needing.
No... I did not purchase all of this at once. This has been over years of traveling frequently with my girls. They have a diaper bag I picked up at a yard sale for $5 that stayed packed in case we decided at a moment's notice to go out of town for the weekend... just grab the bag, fill the water bottle and fold down the pup-tent and away we went (my ex-husband and I already kept hygiene bags packed so it was just a matter of grabbing clothing and medication and we could be on our way). We used to road trip to my aunt's house about once a month when I was married and living in California and have gone cross country as well as on trips to visit family out of state with the girls. I've accumulated their travel kit over the nearly 5 years they have been alive. If it is your first trip with your pet you can easily purchase a small bag of pet food at your destination (I do if the trip is longer than 3 days for sure... I might this trip if I am not able to fit the TravelTainer in my suitcase!), use other bowls you borrow or purchase at your destination inexpensively and get a $1 canvas water bowl to give them water from your own water bottle during travel. The canvas water bowl I have attached to the girl's leads currently for walks I actually purchased at the Dollar Tree several years ago. The reason they have their own water bottle is because I will go through several bottles of water during the course of a 4-6 hour trip. At work, not in a dry environment, I drink about 1.5 L before lunch alone. It makes it easier for me to pack for them the way that I do so that I don't stress once I arrive or on the trip to get there any more than necessary. Being less stressed makes my illness easier to manage so I enjoy my trip more which is pretty much the point of a vacation. Oh and yes... I like pink. :) My favorite colors are actually pink and green, though not together.