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What to Prepare When Traveling With Your ESA



If you have an emotional support animal (ESA), chances are you will need it to be right by your side during your travels. Unlike when traveling with a regular pet, there are some steps that you need to go through before you can bring your ESA along on your flight. To ensure that you and your ESA’s traveling plans go without a hitch, be sure to check the following items off your to-do list.

1. Know Your Rights

This is one of the most important things to learn before taking your ESA with you while traveling. Although most airlines already have regulations in place to ensure that you get your rights, you still need to be well-aware of them. You can also get a copy of your rights to have on hand while traveling. By doing so, you will learn that you have the right not to explain to the cabin crew, or go into more details than what is written in your ESA letter, about why you need an emotional support animal. It also may help to have your ESA Certificate with you when you travel.

2. Find an Airline That Accepts ESAs

While more and more people and airlines are becoming aware of the importance of ESAs, there are still some airlines out there that have not changed their policies to accept an ESA aboard their airplanes. However, other airlines, such as Allegiant Air have updated their policies to ensure that if you have an ESA letter, you do not have to pay any fees other than your own ticket. You can check out for more information about what exactly you will need to get your ESA on your flight without having to pay an additional pet fee. The policies may vary from one airline to another, but usually, you are required to provide a letter issued by a licensed mental health professional to validate your need for an ESA.

3. Get a Comfortable Carrier

During a flight, it is safer for your ESA to stay in a carrier, which means that you will need to find a carrier that they can spend a long time in without feeling too cramped or uncomfortable. Try looking for a spacious carrier that has wheels so you do not get tired lugging it around through the airport and after you land. A pro-tip is to get a carrier ahead of your travel because you are going to need it for another preparation step.

4. Desensitize Your ESA to Airport Sounds

Airports can be very stressful for animals, especially if they are not used to noisy environments. You can desensitize your ESA to airport sounds by taking them to places with crowds and having them socialize with a large number of people so that they are at ease when going through the check-in process at the airport.

5. Take Precautions to Avoid Any Accidents on Flight

Animals don’t really have control over when they can do their business. To ensure that your ESA is comfortable and avoid unwanted accidents that you will have to clean up, you should avoid feeding it before the flight. If possible, you should also go on a long walk before the flight so that your ESA can do their business. Sometimes, if your flight is long, the airline will ask you to sign a document stating that your ESA won’t be making a mess in the airplane. Nonetheless, keeping a towel and some wet wipes on hand will ensure that even if an accident does occur, you can easily clean it up.

6. Have Your ESA Sleep in Its Carrier

To make sure that your ESA does not feel cramped inside the carrier, and that they get some rest during the flight, you can have it practice sleeping inside the carrier a few days before you travel. This will make it more comfortable spending long hours in one place and ensure that you have an easier time going through customs.

7. Pack some Items from Home

The last thing you need to do in preparation for your travels is to pack some familiar items for your ESA. These items will provide a sense of comfort for your ESA, which will help ease the stress it is likely to feel when going to a place it does not know. When packing your bags, include things like grooming supplies, collapsible travel bowls, a pet first aid kit, a leash and collar, and most importantly, your ESA’s favorite toys and treats.

Traveling with a pet, let alone an ESA can be very stressful. Using this preparation checklist, you can remove most, if not all, of the stress, and focus on having fun with your ESA. Remember to do your research before traveling to ensure that your ESA is going to be welcome at your chosen accommodation as well as any places you plan on visiting.

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