Throughout much of 2020, many people have been cooped up in their homes. Now that the weather is changing and some restrictions are lifting, some people are longing for a change of scenery.
There are a few ways to travel that are considered safe, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the safest is probably in your car as you drive to an appropriately socially distanced destination. But can you cross states boundaries with your ESA (emotional support animal) right now? Here’s what you need to know.
Crossing State Boundaries With Your ESA During Coronavirus
Perhaps one of the most important things to know if you plan to cross state lines in your vehicle during a pandemic is what the rules area where you’re going – and what you’ll need to do when you get back.
Many states still have quarantine orders in effect asking travelers from out of state to quarantine for 14 days before doing anything in public at their destination such as going to a restaurant or shopping at a store.
Check on the website of the state you plan to travel to with your ESA to determine if there are restrictions in place and, if there are, what you need to do to comply. Also look at the state you’re traveling from, as some states will also require you to quarantine once you return home from certain places.
In some states, you may also encounter a roadblock. Police will ask you to stop and identify where you are traveling. If it’s from certain places that have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus, then you may be asked to fill out additional paperwork.
It’s crucial that you bring important documents with you when you travel right now, including documents related to your emotional support animals such as their vaccination records and your ESA letter. You will, of course, need your own identification as well.
Tips for Crossing State Boundaries with Your ESA
Chances are you’ve taken a road trip with your ESA before, so you know what they need as far breaks, feedings, and rest. But right now you’ll need to make more concrete plans in order to travel safely for both of you.
Below are a few tips to keep in mind.
Plan your route carefully
Even if you’re going someplace you’ve been before, if you haven’t been there during the pandemic, you’ll need to make careful plans. Temporary closures may be present in some places, as well as travel advisories.
Some states have changed how they operate things such as toll collection and rest areas, so check with the Federal Highway Administration’s website for a directory of the state department of transportation websites that you can gather more information from.
Pack carefully and sanitize
Pack the essentials you need for you and your ESA when traveling, but don’t forget the hand sanitizer and wipes you’ll now need to keep your hands and surfaces in your car clean. Good hygiene when on the road is as important as ever, so wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly before eating and after going in and out of places on your trip.
Use cards, not cash
If possible, pay for things you need along the way with cards instead of cash. This helps to cut down on exposure to possible infection.
Make on-the-go dining plans
You might run into many restaurants that are not operating under normal hours or offering dine-in services, so you may want to stick to drive-thru options.
Consider whether you’ll need to stop overnight
If you need to stop to sleep during your travel, make sure you work out where you’ll stay before you leave. Not only do you need to check to ensure that hotels will accommodate your ESA, you also need to check that they’re still operating. Also check in on their enhanced cleaning procedures to help keep you safe.
Different places have different rules around wearing masks in public. In some places, mask usage is mandated when entering a store or other public space, so check what the rules are in the place you’ll be traveling to and make sure you’ve got the masks you need.
Emotional Support Animals And Travel During COVID-19: Documents You May Need
Don’t forget that ESAs and service animals are not the same, so they do not have the same rights in public places. Make sure you have all the important documents for your ESA that you need when traveling, including your ESA letter and any information from your ESA’s vet about their health. If your ESA wears tags, make sure they are on during travel. You don’t want to run into a problem with ESA documentation that would require you to turn around and go home, abandoning your road trip plans.
You and your ESA have many adventures ahead of you. But if you decide to venture out amidst a pandemic, it’s important to be prepared, because things won’t be business as usual. Make sure to do your research before you leave your home and be extra diligent to ensure both you and your ESA can travel safely.
State boundaries are not currently closed, but they may be restricted, and there may be conditions that you need to be informed of before you leave for certain states. As long as you know what to expect, you and your ESA should be able to travel where you want to go.