Bagel & Kimberly’s Adventure in the Air

Bagel and I were travel buddies to the ultimate destination: Home! It had been exactly one year ago since I was in Europe and none of my friends and family over there had even met our new pup.

There is so much to organize for an overseas trip, it fills up this entire blog post — but stay tuned for our Eurotrip adventures in the next one. I started my preparations by making lists on top of lists (one of my favorite activities): “food I want to eat” “clothes I need to pack” “people I can’t wait to see”… But the most complicated to-do list was figuring out the requirements for Bagel’s travel.

Prepare for takeoff 
Getting into the European Union is more difficult as an animal then it is as a human being! First, I needed different sets of forms from a certified vet showing that Bagel was healthy and fully vaccinated. Besides time-consuming, this to-do item ended up costing a lot of money (warning: nearly $500!).

I also had to find a way to transport her, since she was flying with me in the cabin. A pet carrier would do the trick, but would it fit under the airplane seat? Ironically, I just happened to be on Delta’s new aircraft, which is smaller than ever. After finding the right bag (that didn’t squish our little pup), we trained Bagel to be comfortable in it. And with the prospect of a 13-hour flight, she had to be in love with it. A couple of days later I caught her casually hanging out in the bag with her toys. Mission accomplished!

After packing for myself, I had to pack for Bagel — I haven’t trained her that well just yet. My mom said it wasn’t going to snow while we were there (again, stay tuned), but being from California, Bagel is already cold in the frozen isle of the supermarket! So besides treats, toys, and poop bags, I finally had a legitimate excuse to buy her cute sweaters, hoodies, and jackets. And since her food is not sold in Europe, I even squeezed six zip lock bags of kibble in my suitcase.

Are we there yet? 
Even though Bagel and I were fully prepared for this overseas trip, the flight did not start out so well. When I stuck my hand in the bag after takeoff, she was completely stiff and non-responsive. I panicked and immediately got a stewardess involved. I pulled Bagel out of the bag as fast as humanly possible and put her on my lap. She was breathing (Thank God), but her eyes were nearly popping out, she was panting, licking her lips and trembling. Later I learned that all of these signs actually stem from shock and extreme anxiety.

We dutifully trained in advance with the pet carrier, but I guess you cannot prepare your dog for the actual flight. She must have been terrified, with the combined loud noise and vibration of the aircraft as well as the change in air pressure. I held her on my lap, close to my body, for the rest of the flight. The moment we got off the plane for our layover, Bagel was her curious self again. But the trip was not over yet…

Even though Bagel was shivering and shaking during takeoff and landing of the connecting flight, the overall journey went smoothly. She sat on my lap for the entire stretch, wrapped in a blanket. I took no risks and even brought her to the aircraft lavatory with me. Imagine me holding a puppy in this tiny space, while simultaneously undoing my pants and trying not to get sucked into the toilet. (By the way, did I mention flying with your dog is not a walk in the park?)

But let’s not forget Bagel’s victories: she achieved a new record, holding in her pee for a whopping 14 hours! She waited until we had finally reached dry land (read: cold and wet land) to do her business.

An eventful trip indeed, but it was all worth it once we set foot in good old Belgium!

Bagel Travel 4.jpg

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Flying from the US to Europe with your dog?
Here are the (complicated) steps you will need to follow:

  1. You will need to set up two separate appointments with your vet. Both are necessary to draft up all the documents needed for air travel to the E.U.
    • To enter the European Union with your dog you need an Annex IV This form is filled in and signed by a certified vet.
    • Your dog will also need to undergo a vet checkup 10 days before your trip. Your vet will grant you an official health certificate if your dog is healthy and happy.
  2. You will have to send both the Annex IV form and Health Certificate to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a stamp of approval.
  3. Once you have all the forms, make 3 sets of copies. One for your files, one for in your dog’s carrier and one for on your person.

N.B. You are looking at a total cost of at least 400 dollars (which doesn’t include the plane ticket). This is for the documents and veterinary check-ups. Depending on your dog’s current state of health, you might need to pay for missing vaccinations, tests or a microchip.

The good news is that Bagel now has her own European Pet Passport, so next time we travel to Europe, we won’t need to go through this entire ordeal!

For more advice about flying with your dog, check out my guest post on


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