Pet Friendly Vacations: RV Travel With Your Bird
It's holiday time, and for many of us that means it's time to pack up the RV, hit the road and explore for a couple of weeks! RV's are a great way to experience pet friendly vacations.
And while taking your birds with you can make your trip a fantastic experience, you're going to want to do some careful planning to make your trip safe for your bird, and enjoyable for you both.
In fact, best is if you plan the bird part of your trip with military precision. A little bit of work here can really make your trip a lot easier!
1. Get them used to the RV and travel cage first!
If your bird isn't used to traveling by RV then you need to get your bird accustomed to his or her new digs BEFORE the trip, and also plan around safety.
If you're going to be using new travel cages, get your bird used to its new travel home by giving it treats and toys as a reward for getting into it.
While in the RV, make sure cage is secured safely with seatbelt or straps while making sure sure the cage is on a seat WITHOUT an airbag as the impact of the bag on the cage could easily be enough to kill your bird.
Also, secure everything you can to the sides of the cage. This includes toys, feeders etc, and the better you do this the safer your bird will be in the event of unexpected movements of the vehicle such as emergency stops or braking.
It's also a great idea to take your bird on several short journeys before the big trip to get them accustomed to the new sights, sounds and sensations that they're going to be experiencing.
2. Life in an RV can be bumpy, noisey and smelly for your bird.
Traveling by car or RV can get uncomfortable for humans, and this is only magnified for your birds!
As always, air quality for your bird is paramount and you should avoid cigarette smoke, cleaners and disinfectants and be especially careful if your bird cage is going to be near a gas stove or cooker. Remember. Ventilation. Ventilation. Ventilation!
Non stick pans of any kind should not be used around your bird, especially in the confined area of an RV
Noise is also a potential source of irritation! While it's entirely possible that your bird loves singing along to The Rolling Stones as much as you do while rolling down route 66, chances are that he or she doesn't enjoy the same taste in volume! Try to avoid loud music where possible, as you don't want to reinforce a potential screaming problem. But, more importantly, you don't want your bird "singing at the top of it's lungs" when you get home.
Also, remember that your bird is very sensitive to temperatures, so make sure that the RV never gets too hot or cold, and watch out for signs that your bird is overheating.
Your bird may also get agitated or take a chill from an opened window, so just keep an eye out to make sure that he or she is okay with the level of wind in the RV, and if possible, place the cage in a sheltered part of the RV.
3. Light or dark: Which is best for your bird?
Some birds prefer to be able to see everything that's going on around them, and delight in looking out the window while you drive. Most birds will quickly figure out that the passing cars represent no danger to them, but almost all of them will still duck as you go under an overpass!
If your bird is a little more skittish, then you'll need to experiment with covers to find out whether your bird prefers a lighter or darker travel experience.
Be very wary with a cover that allows no light, as your bird can't see in the dark and in a moving vehicle will be prone to falling off perches and bumping into things, just as you would be! Plus, drastic changes in the amount of light your bird receives may effect it's metabolism.
Many birds won't eat in a moving vehicle so you'll need to plan on stopping every couple of hours for feeding and exercise. This is pretty good practice anyway while driving long distances, but having a bird passenger along for the ride makes it paramount. Birds are grazers so they need frequent food intake.
Plan on not being able to purchase your bird's favorite foods on the trip, and pre-purchase as much of their staple foods and treats as you need to tide them over until you get back.
Never share fast food with your bird, as tempting as it may be!
Your tummy may be able to handle it, but fast food is notorious for being filled with nasties like Ecoli, and are better avoided by your bird.
Store all food in unbreakable airtight plastic containers and store securely.
You should have a ready supply of ice, and fresh live foods stored in a cooler so that your bird is not just eating fatty seeds and treats, but is also getting nutrient rich foods.
Don't get lax and feed your bird bad foods just because you're on vacation!
5. Plan for the unexpected!
Chances are everything is going to go just perfectly on your trip, but it's still good practice to go with the motto "hope for the best, and plan for the worst!".
So first thing to do is make sure that you've packed your bird first aid kit in the RV.
Next, find out and map out where the best vets or animal hospitals are on your travel path. Include addresses and emergency phone numbers, and store in an easy to find and accessible space.
You don't want to be stuck in an unfamiliar town with a bird emergency and not have someone to call!
Also, carry detailed intructions on how to care for your bird in your wallet, meaning that if you are incapacitated for any reason, your bird can still be taken care of in of an emergency situation.
Overheating is a very real danger in a moving and especially in a stationary vehicle and a water misting or spray bottle filled with water and stored in the cooler is a must.
While it's going to be a lot of fun for you and your birds to go on a trip, it's a great idea to give your bird some the comforts and securities of home, so you should include his or her favorite toys and foods while traveling.
Also, birds are creatures of habit, and can become easily disoriented and agitated when their routines are broken. Try to keep to your usual routine of feeding, playing and talking to your birds so that they get some sort of continuity and consisteny while traveling.
In this, your birds are like small children, and if you plan around them in the same way, you'll be fine!
7. Abide by the law.
Make sure you check out state regulations, restrictions and quarantine laws if you are going to be traveling over state lines. If you get this wrong, best case you may just get a fine, but worst case your bird may be impounded which would be a minor disaster!
You'll avoid all issues if you plan ahead, and check out the relevant laws for where you're going to travel.
8. Don't forget to have fun!
Lastly, after you've done all of this planning and prepared for the worst, don't forget to have fun! Once your bird has accustomed to the moving vehicle, it's not uncommon for birds to get into the swing of things and start to get playful and talkative. Plan on getting your bird out of the cage on a table top bird stand as much possible
Talk and play with your bird as usual, have fun, and whatever you do, remember that travel in a vehicle is an innately stressful experience for your bird, should never be punished for displaying signs of stress like being overly talkative etc.
As you start to get into the holiday and travel mood and relax, your bird will too!
Best of luck with your trip, have a great time, and if you've got any travel tips that I've missed or experiences that you'd like to share, let me know here and comment below!
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW