With as much planning as one can do, we load all our luggage, ourselves, and of course the pups and set off for the 3+ hour drive to the airport. Tucked away for that “just in case” moment we have a good supply of doggy chill pills as I call them. We arrived at the airport with about 3 hours until take off, we are at the airport all of 5 minutes before popping one of those doggy chill pills, into a piece of cheese and feeding it to pups, she was hyped, and I mean hyped! She was almost unmanageable, running side to side, making me trip over myself or step on her.  Nonetheless we make our way to the ticket counter, hoping we had done sufficient homework, dotting all our i’s and crossing all our t’s so our pups could make the trek to Sweden with us.  A few checks here and some copies of the paperwork and we are good to go….OK, first hurdle, cleared! Now time to check the bags and test how well we weighed them before arriving at the airport. We crammed everything we could, down to ounces away from meeting the weight limit in our bags. It was our entire lives, narrowed down to a few bags, which was incredibly difficult. It meant doing away with any non-essentials. Sorting through clothes, memento’s, you name it, and narrowing it down to the most important items. Weigh the bags, hold our breath….OK, all meet weight, the second hurdle has now been cleared.  With pups still very anxious, we were all on edge and anticipating a very long, and stressful plane ride. With another 2 hours until it was time to board the plane, we settled in as much as possible and slowly fed the pups a sandwich to keep her attention, not wanting to feed her too much, we certainly didn’t want any accidents on the plane!

There is however, one great benefit to traveling with a dog, you get to go in front of most people. I also might add, that traveling with an animal can be costly, however, there are loopholes that cut the cost significantly.  Pets are companions, dogs especially, and so I set out to find the best and most cost-effective way to get her there. There was no way we were leaving without her, she is so special to us, and a part of our journey.  I started reading on ESA’s(emotional support animals) and found a website, where you can register your animal as an ESA, get a certificate for her, as well as a letter from a doctor that allows her to travel anywhere I go, under Federal Law.  Calling her an ESA was not too far from the truth and even while interviewing with the Dr. on why I needed an ESA, I never had to be dishonest. Let’s face it, we all go through trials in life, and pets often provide happiness even in the hardest of times, they are loving and loyal no matter what.  All in all, it was less than a third of the price we would have paid to have her shipped like freight through a carrier service, excluding the vet bills, which were minimal as well.  Be sure to do your research and plan our your vet visits well, requirements change not only by the entering country, but also based on the country you are coming from, and may determine which airports you can fly into. As an ESA pups, was able to ride in the cabin with us. Although if I had it to do over, I would have bought her a seat so that we were not crammed in with another passenger that had to deal with a massive dog by their feet, should you ever travel with a larger dog, I recommend this highly, trust me it will be worth the cost. Once on the plane, it took about 45 minutes or so for pups to relax.  Once she did she slept by our feet the rest of the flight.  What a relief! Now we could also rest easy.

8.5 hours later, we have landed in Stockholm. We patiently wait for all other passengers to exit the plane, this was the path of least resistance with pups. Once off the plane, it’s off to get our passports stamped, and of course it’s a fairly long line….sigh.  Of course once again, with all the people and excitement pups is very anxious, we take a seat before making our way to the line and I look up and notice a gentlemen in the EU passport line waiving us over.  He noticed our dog and knew it had been a long flight and was gracious enough to get us through the line ahead of everyone else. Now it’s off to customs for another review of our paperwork for pups. The gentleman at customs was pleasant, looked over the paperwork, and pups, asked a few questions, and we are all clear!  I have to admit it was much easier than I thought, my American expectations of the system had me certain we would run into a hiccup or two, but it was smooth sailing. That said, by this time we hadn’t slept or had a decent meal in I don’t know how long, and still had to manage a train ride, and navigating with no GPS to our first accommodation.  First step off the train, and pups rips out of there so fast I fall flat on my back. Well hello Sweden! Here I am! Given I am quite clumsy, this was an accurate first impression for Sweden. While I was dealing with a spastic dog, the boys had to manage all the luggage, no small task either.  We were tired, hungry, lost, and a bit frustrated at this point. We asked a few people for directions and each time got further away from our destination.  Finally, I spot a taxi, and recall have 200 SEK from our last visit tucked away in my wallet. YES! Finally we have some good help, and a dry warm ride.  He was kind enough to take us, with all our bags and a dog and got us to our destination quickly, while the ride was only 100 SEK, we gave him the 200 SEK we had in appreciation.  Finally, we have arrived! First order of business, sleep and food!

After a decent nap, we wake up and venture out for some food. At this time it’s pretty late, around 23:00 or so, and where do we find ourselves eating?  None other than good ‘ole Mickey D’s, the glowing golden arches calling out to us like a beacon.  Might I add, I had not had Mickey D’s in I don’t know how long, but when you are hungry, anything will due.  I will note, that the food was very tasty and much different than the American style Mickey D’s, a pleasant surprise, and I didn’t feel like my insides were dying by the end of the meal. We make the trek back to our temporary home for the next few days, and with full bellies settle in for our first night in Sweden.

God natt Sverige! Tack!

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