This is the second article in our five-part series on getting ready for an international move with your pet. First, we looked at your “countdown to departure”– an overview of key pet-related tasks and the order in which you should tackle them. We recommended you make a calendar to track everything, and you’ll be glad you did.
In this article, we offer some tips to help with one of the toughest moving chores of all: deciding what to take and what to leave behind. Not for yourself, but for your soon-to-be-moving kitty or dog.
If you’re merely moving across town, it’s easy to pack everything up and haul it to your new home. But the farther you move, the more it costs. Do you really need all that stuff? Maybe you should pare down. You can always replenish as needed once you get to your new destination. If you’re moving internationally, you won’t have much choice. It is not practical (perhaps not even possible) to ship most of your belongings.
How does all this apply to your pet?
Well, he has the same fundamental issue as you – it’s scary to find yourself in an entirely new situation with nothing familiar to comfort you. Moving might be the perfect motivation to clean out those closets. But it’s so hard to part with your stuff. It has meaning.
Every pet, cat or dog, has their own belongings, things that have meaning for them because they are familiar. Dishes, bedding, toys – probably too many toys, but we’ll get to that in a moment. You can’t expect your pet to be happy moving “cold turkey” any more than you.
So how do you decide what goes and what does not?
How much space will you have? Many American families, in particular, find that moving to a foreign country means living in much smaller quarters than they’ve been used to. If your dog or cat currently has multiple beds around the house, take just one. OK, take two if your pet is small.
What will be available in your new country? In many countries, pets are as popular as they are in the US or the UK. So if you’re moving to Australia or Japan, for example, you’ll have no trouble finding everything your pet is used to. However, there are places where even basics for pets are limited. The Caribbean Islands are a good example. Research the realities of your destination, then choose accordingly. Take what you can’t get there.
Some things are easy to part with. If your pet currently owns a doggie closet-full of stylish raincoats, sweaters, and booties but you’re moving to the tropics, he won’t need those belongings. Ditto for outdoor gear that won’t be needed.
Some things are essential
To help your pet feel as comfortable as possible right away in his new home, you’ll want to bring along more than one of his beds. He’ll be happy to see and sniff his dishes and toys, too. For your peace of mind, take along a supply of his usual food and any medications he’s currently taking. That will give you a little time to find a vet and a pet supply store (Tip: research both ahead of time online).
Once you’ve decided what to take with you from your old home for your pet, pack those items according to when you’ll need them. (Bear in mind that overseas shipping can be slooooow. You’ll have to balance that against your airline’s luggage weight limit.)
- Bedding and a reasonable selection of toys
- Supplies such as brushes
Pack in your luggage:
- Short-term supply of familiar food and treats or chew sticks
- Current medications
- An extra collar/leash (even if your pet is a cat)
- One or two favorite toys
Pack in your carry-on:
- Small bag of treats
- Portable water dish
- Poop bags
Your pet will be thrilled to be reunited with you when you both deplane, but he’ll be equally thrilled to get a drink of water and a treat for being such a good boy.
You’ll still have each other
No matter how few items you decide to take with you from your old home, your pet will find the most comfort knowing you’re still there for him. And as pet parents ourselves, we know the most comforting part of your move will be having your furry loved one make the trip with you. Who cares what you’re wearing or what furniture you’re sitting on, as long as your pet is by your side?