Flying with no bathroom breaks

Packed and ready to go, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

The night before we left for Almaty, we got a lot of phone calls and texts to say goodbye (thanks Mom, Dad, Erin, Uncle Tom and Aunt Pam, Dan, Helen, and David, Jenna, Diane, Kelsey, Jason, and S’s family). The most common question we got was—how on earth with Harley, the pup, go to the bathroom on this long, long trip?

The simple answer: she won’t.

As I have mentioned before, Harley is a trooper and travels in a Sherpa Carrying Case which fits (mostly) under the seat in front of me. Due to airport and airline regulations, she is never allowed to leave her “house”. Also, she loves her house and never wants to mess it up.

I do layer the bottom of the bag with what is essentially a square flat diaper so that if she does have to go to the bathroom, I can easily reach my hand in, roll up the diaper, throw it out, and she can once again have a clean cage. To date, with flights between Moldova and Texas, Chile and Milwaukee, DC and Kazakhstan, and within the US, I have only had to pull out a layer of diaper because she got motion sick. Still, the choice is there.

Since I know she won’t go… and will hold it for hours and hours, I prefer to bring her on the plane hungry and thirsty.

For example, on Wednesday, we fed Harley in the morning. We then didn’t give her any food or much water until we had left the US (Wednesday night EST) and were 2 hours from arriving in Almaty (Thursday mid-day EST). Then with 2 hours to landing, I held a glass of water in her bag and let her drink it. Believe me, she did. Then, an hour before landing, I shared some of my sandwich with her and offered more water. Upon arrival, we allowed her out of the bag on a grassy spot. Of course, even though it was 2 am (local time) we fed her before bed.

All and all, she survived the trip! And, is much happier here then she was in the hotel. It is amazing to me how quickly she understood that we had come home.



  1. Your dog IS a trooper! WOW!!! So cute in the little carrier! I wish Simon still fit under the airplane seats, but he’s too tall now and weighs 19 lbs! 😦

    When I was traveling with Simon, I managed to let him out of the carrier on layovers being really sneaky. (Some airports have relief areas — believe it or not. But I didn’t have time to find or use them.)
    My technique was to find what they call “family and or disability bathrooms” They are separate rooms from the main public bathrooms with doors that lock. I went in there, let him out of his carrier to stretch his legs and put down a pee pad for him to go to the bathroom. I stayed in as long as possible, peeking out every now and then making sure no one was waiting to use it, and no one ever was.

    My backup plan was to use the handicap stall and put him on his leash, but that was a little more risky, so I didn’t do it. In the one airport that didn’t have separate bathrooms, I did find a utility closet off of the bathroom, so I sneaked in there and let him go on the pee pad there.

    Of course, Simon was still a puppy when we were flying so he wasn’t as good as adult dogs at holding it.

    I’m so glad you made it safely. I often wonder how Simon would do on an overseas trip–to Chile or something. One day we’ll find out!

  2. I’m glad you made it safe to Almaty. Harley is such a trooper! Eventually I’ll have to take my cat Charlie back to the US and I’m nervous about flying with him. I have a carrier and everything, and he’ll be able to fly on board but I’m worried about him crying the whole time (he’s a crier anyway, he just meows and meows and meows about everything and anything). Anyway, when the time approaches I’ll have to pick your brain about flying with animals. For now, I’m looking forward to reading about your new life in Almaty.

  3. What a good puppy…even if she doesn’t remember the guy who saved her life and nursed her back to health…bitter? Maybe a little.

  4. I think I need to get a bag like that. Zoe is flying with me to Chile and she gets to ride in the cabin the whole way this time. I have been trying to find a good bag, but haven’t had much luck. I’m going to Petco tomorrow and I think they have the Sherpa Delta bag there.

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