Vacationing and Traveling with your Bird

Planning that summer fun vacation yet?

It really is possible to vacation or travel with your bird in many circumstances. Just do a little planning ahead and be as prepared as you can for just about anything.

Many birds enjoy traveling with their family and do very well.  Remember it's never too soon to start planning either.  I have gathered a few tips based on my own personal travels with my birds.  I hope you find them helpful.

Traveling by Car Tips:

If you will be driving on your trip, know that most birds do travel well in cars.  Usually all you will need is a travel carrier or small cage for the trip, and necessary miscellaneous bird stuff.

Some birds may experience some motion sickness.  This is usually caused by one of the following reasons:

  • the actual motion of the vehicle
  • the quickly passing scenery if they can see out
  • the stress of what's happening in general  

If your bird is one that does stress or get upset, you may want to practice some short drives around town in preparation for the longer trip.  A few trips around the block may be all you need to do to ease your bird's anxiety over traveling. 

(Pictured above my Shilo, African Grey, with Buddy, Sun Conure Bert, Dusky Conure, and Shasta Amazon)


Riding in a covered carrier or cage may be better than the bird being able to see out as it may give your bird a feeling of hidden security. Also keep in mind the species of bird you are traveling with and the carrier you choose.  As shown above, most travel cages work for all species, plastic carriers usually work for smaller species, but if you have a avid chewer, that plastic carrier might become a pile of dust by the time you arrive.  I learned early on that although my Shasta Yellow Nape Amazon looks quite cute posing with the blue carrier above, she never ever travels in a plastic carrier.  She truly enjoys reworking all the small holes in such carriers into large open picture windows.  So for her, traveling in a travel cage or undestructable carrier is a must. 

If your bird continues to get motion sickness no matter what you try to help alleviate it, you may want to talk with your avian veterinarian to see if there is sometime else you can try.

After deciding whether your bird travels best in a covered carrier or a travel cage, prepare for the trip by laying down a small towel inside the carrier or cage, then layering paper towels on top for the trip.  If you feel you need a perch, a  free standing small perch, or a low placed perch securely attached to the sides of the carrier or cage is safer during travel.  By keeping perches low, if an unexpected quick brake happens, your bird won't fall causing injury or panic.  The bottom layer of a towel will help cushion any falls as well.  If you can use a seat belt with the carrier or cage, that a plus.

I prefer not to have any hanging toys in a cage as they can swing and cause possible injury to your bird.  If you feel you need to add a toy or two, choose small foot toys or small toys that can be secured to the side of the carrier or cage.

Long trips are better without a water dish inside the carrier or cage unless you are using a water bottle.  Water dishes will just cause the water to slosh around getting everything wet.  A better choice for moisture is  to provide juicy fruits such as orange, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, peach, even apple slices, to provide moisture as needed.  A nice fresh filled water dish can be given during rest stops or when you reach your destination.  If you bird doesn't like juicy fruits, better get started training him or her to like them, or you will need to stop every couple of hours to offer a small dish of water.  For food nutrition, add some spray millet, a small dish of favorite seeds and/or pellets, bird bread, or treats. 

Remember every time you need to open the door to the carrier, a possible escape can occur, causing a bird to panic, fly into the window, or worst case scenario, escape through an open window or door.

Preparing the carrier or small cage begins with training your bird to go willingly inside.  Start practicing now.  Set the carrier or travel cage next to your bird's regular cage.  Place very special treats just inside the door and act like you don't know it's there.  As your bird gathers up courage to snatch the treat, move the next one a little farther into the carrier or cage.  The goal is for your bird to associate the carrier or small cage with a fun place to visit that holds extra special treats.

I highly recommend you never ever leave your bird alone in the car.  Cars heat up fast and a bird can have a heat stroke within minutes if it reaches too high a temperature.  Not to mention, birds do get kidnapped from cars.  Someone should stay with the bird at all times.  If you are traveling alone, you will need to take the bird with you when you leave the car.

Traveling by Air Tips:

If you are traveling by airplane, be sure and contact the airline company well in advance of your travel dates. Some airlines do not allow birds in the cabin with their people.  Others may charge a full person ticket price even if the bird's carrier is under your seat.  If the airline is one who only allows animals and birds to travel in the cargo hold, travel may be not be allowed during hot summer months.

Personally I'm not keen on any animal or bird traveling in a cargo hold, so I would suggest if at all possible try to take your bird inside the cabin with you. Make sure your bird has a reservation just as you do and confirm this with the airline 24 hours before you plan to leave.

Find out what type of carrier your particular airline (or airlines if you will need to change planes and different airline carriers) requires.  Be sure and familiarize your bird with its travel carrier beforehand. Most airlines have strict dimensions of allowed carriers, and it's not a standard, so allowed carriers can vary from airline to airline.  

Some Airlines may require a health certificate issued by your bird's vet within 10 days of flight so be sure and bring all documentation with you as well as extra supplies for your bird. The bird's carrier should be well marked and tagged with all pertinent information such as flight number, destination, owner's name and address, home phone number, vet's name and phone number, bird's name and schedule for food and water. You can use a permanent marker to write all information on the carrier.  Tags can be accidentally torn off.

Tips for When you Arrive

Make sure your hotel, condo, etc. allows pets when you call to make reservations.  Double check your vacation spot and specifically ask if they spray pesticides inside the room in-between visitors.  Also be sure to check with any friends or relatives you might be staying with.  Make sure they are ok with a feathered visitor too, possible noise, and probable mess.  Practice all safety regimens that you would naturally at home.  

Once settled in at your vacation place, set up a play area for your bird, whether it's a small travel cage with toys or a play gym set on top of the carrier or next to their travel cage.  Make it your bird's vacation area too.





Wherever your bird will be spending time, cover all furniture surfaces where your bird's cage or play area will be with paper towels, newspapers, or bed sheets to help keep the area clean of food and poop.   Don't forget the floor area too.  Remember your bird is going to be just as messy on vacation as he or she is at home.

You may also want to remember to put out the do not disturb sign whenever you are not in the hotel room.  Just a precaution to make sure no one disturbs or scares your bird when you are not there to supervise.  In fact, you may even want to ask family members who your bird does not know to only interact with the bird when you are also present.

Here is a list of a few things to pack in your bird's suitcase.

  • Paper Towels (lots of them)
  • Newspappers (lots of them)
  • Bed Sheet (maybe even 2)
  • Wash cloth (for quick cleanups)
  • Wet ones (for even quicker cleanups)
  • Night or car cage cover (even if you only use it as a partial cover)
  • Secure Container of food
  • Container of water brought from home or bottled water
  • Bird First Aid Kit
  • extra set of dishes
  • A hand held vacuum or hand broom & dustpan
  • A few new fun toys
  • And lots of special treats
  • (If you plan to feed fresh foods you may also want to include a small cooler for storage)

I hope this helps give you some ideas on the planning and preparation for a fun family vacation that includes your bird.



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