How To Travel With Exotic Pets Like Snakes And Tarantulas

This is a guest post by Richard Adams, a reptile keeper with over 25 years of experience who writes about caring for all sorts of creatures on his website Keeping Exotic Pets.

ball python travel

At the beginning of the year I made just one New Year’s Resolution: to take the summer off and explore France from my home in Sussex, England. The only problem in this otherwise life-changing plan were my four beautiful pet snakes and an assortment of random tarantulas. Sure, I could leave them at home for a few weeks: but what about the four months I was planning?

I could pay a pet sitter but they’re expensive or I could convince a friend. (Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t very successful with the latter.) This just left one good option: take the “zoo” with me – which is exactly what I did. These are my own tips garnered from traveling with three ball pythons measuring up to four and a half feet long, a milk snake called Kermit, and ten different tarantulas.

Check Company Rules And Legal Regulations

As a Brit, there are three main options for getting to France: by air, Channel Tunnel, or ferry. With the snakes and spiders, ferry was the most practical and cost-effective solution. Based in Sussex, this meant a drive of just over an hour to Portsmouth Harbour in order to catch the ferry. I packed up all the animals in my car, drove them onto the ferry, and straight off again at the other end. I chose an overnight crossing, departing around 11pm and arriving into Caen, in northern France, early the next morning. Booking early enough, comfy cabins were available for catching some sleep.

When transporting “exotic pets” there are two kinds of rules that you’ll need to abide by. The first of these are the rules set by each ferry company. Pay close attention to these, as the last thing you want is to be turned back at port. Personally, I traveled with Brittany Ferries. The process was quite simple, and just involved booking online, then contacting their customer service team with my booking reference to let them know what I would be carrying.

Richard Adams reptile keeper

As long as the animals remain safely locked in your car during the journey then there should be no issues. I also made to sure to place my pets in my trunk, to avoid startling any other passengers who may not share my enthusiasm for scaly animals!

The second set of regulations to be aware of are import and export rules. Fortunately, traveling within the EU is reasonably simple. Even though some of the species I was transporting are protected – registered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) – my experience is that registration should prevent any problems as long as you’re not planning to sell your pets.

Of course, if you are traveling outside the EU, the rules are far more stringent. In those cases you will need to make sure you have the necessary certifications to prove their captive-bred status. I recommend double-checking with the authorities to ensure that you have written confirmation that your pets may leave and enter. This needn’t be too problematic; in the UK, for example, a quick email to Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) should suffice.

traveling with snakes

I gathered all of these emails into a document wallet, ready for inspection if necessary. As it turned out, the process at both ends went very smoothly and no proof was necessary. Still, it’s better to be over-prepared, especially since port authorities only deal with exotic pets rarely. If a query arises, you want to have the answer ready and waiting for them.

Accommodating Exotic Pets

The good news about holiday properties in Europe is that many are pet friendly. I opted to rent a villa just outside Cognac, checking with the landlady in advance that she was fine about the reptiles. While understandably a little hesitant, I have always found it handy to remind property owners that reptiles are kept shut away pretty much the whole time, and therefore don’t produce the smell, hair and mess that dog owners often leave behind. Snakes also aren’t known for chewing the furniture!

For more difficult properties, consider offering an additional deposit. If you’re keeping your reptiles well, there shouldn’t be a real risk of losing your money.

Remember, the earlier you start planning, the more properties will be available. You may have to try a number of landlords before you find someone willing to accept exotic pets, so be prepared to hunt around. Personally, I started looking at options in late February for a May arrival; even then many were already booked out. Leaving things to the last minute might leave you with only properties that won’t take reptiles.

Preparing Exotic Animals For Travel

Just as with other pets, you’ll want to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your animals. Unlike people traveling with dogs, however, getting your pet out of their cage en route is likely to lead to some odd looks at best, and at worst shrieks of fear. Planning ahead for the journey is therefore critical.

traveling with tarantula

While many people transport snakes in fabric bags, I opted to use plastic containers in two sizes. Large ones that the snakes would live in while at the villa and smaller ones for the tarantulas. To save space in the car and prevent damage to the snakes during transportation, each snake was placed into one of the smaller tarantula tubs for travel. The tarantulas were placed into small plastic pots, and the large snake tubs were then used to pack our belongings.

  • Feed After Not Before – Snakes in particular can be quite sensitive after eating, so it is recommended that you hold off feeding your pets for a few days before travel.
  • Stay Cool – During transit, try to ensure that your pets remain at a suitable temperature. This means avoiding parking in direct sunlight, keeping them safely shaded at all times, and using your air conditioning if necessary.

The most critical time in the transportation of exotics is arrival at your destination. Your pets must be the primary concern at this point, and getting them suitably housed should be your first action. For this reason, I made sure to have all my pet supplies ready for action the moment we arrived. In this way, within an hour of arriving at our villa every animal had been health checked and successfully rehoused into an appropriate cage.

Finding Supplies, Pet Food, And Equipment

Possibly the most complicated thing about transporting reptiles is finding suitable supplies when you reach your destination. For example, will you be able to buy frozen rodents for your python, or crickets for your tarantula?

Clearly, there are two options here. The first of these is that you can take as much equipment with you as possible. There are, of course, limitations here on how much you can fit in your car. In my case I decided to take with me just the basics, such as a big bag of snake bedding and water bowls for all the animals. This allowed me to set them all up properly on arrival, rather than having to go shopping first. The other solution is to buy reptile supplies in the country you are visiting, but in my experience finding reptile shops abroad can be challenging. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to order reptile supplies online; even in a foreign country.

Personally, I spent some time researching French e-commerce sites before leaving home. Use Google Chrome as your browser and you’ll find that foreign-language websites are quickly translated into your native language, allowing you to order online in a new country. If you have a Paypal account you’ll find it easy to make payment. I was also surprised to find that your native Amazon company (in my case Amazon.co.uk) will also ship overseas if you’re willing to pay the shipping fees. This dealt with the longer term supplies.

traveling with large spiders

As a tip, I used a company called Zanimo Exotic to provide my reptile food; delivery is quite slow (order by Friday for dispatch the following Wednesday) and couriers in France are expensive, but the quality and reliability was good. My suggestion would be to order in bulk to save money on shipping fees.

Exotic Pets Don’t Mean You Can’t Travel

Next week, I head back to the UK after a four month stay in France. It’s an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life; the weather, the food, the people, the wildlife. More importantly however, my reptiles are as fit and healthy as ever – indeed I would say the warm weather we’ve enjoyed here has been a benefit for them.

There are two important take-home points from my own experiences this summer. Firstly, don’t let pet ownership affect your travel plans. There are many ways to combine pet ownership and travel, so you don’t necessarily have to compromise. Secondly, don’t assume that if your pet is a little “alternative” you can’t take them abroad. As my experience has shown, it is definitely possible to take a menagerie of animals abroad with a little research and forward planning. In most cases you will be able to handle the process yourself; worst case scenario don’t forget that there are numerous pet travel companies now who will help you complete all the necessary paperwork and guide you through the transportation process.

So, next time you’re on vacation and pull up next to a car with a foreign registration plate, spare a thought for us reptile keepers. You might just be standing closer than you realized to a beautiful python or a tarantula the size of a dinner plate. Bon voyage!

Thank you Richard for sharing your expertise on exotic pets with us! Richard writes much more about the wonderful world of exotic pets, including his particular passion for tarantulas, on his blog Keeping Exotic Pets.

The Best Wireless Sport Headphones For Under $100: NuForce BE Sport3 Review

There’s a niche between high-end Bluetooth wireless sport headphones well over $100 and the ultra budget variety, less than $30. The NuForce BE Sport3 fills the void by taking the best of both ends, here’s why they might be the ideal wireless headphones for you, especially if you exercise frequently when traveling.

nuforce be sport3

The BE Sport3 earbuds weigh 13 grams (.45 ounces) and pair over Bluetooth with your phone. They also come with a small carry case plus a variety of colors of wingtips, which help keep the BE Sport3 in your ear during exercise, particularly running. The BE Sport3 aren’t as small as the higher end sport headphones, but fit very comfortably for a set of earbuds in the $80 range. Cheaper Bluetooth headphones tend to be bulkier, cutting costs in the physical design, so running on pavement or on hiking trails tends to be a problem with them after you get sweaty.

nuforce optoma be sport3  Optoma NuForce BESPORT3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

buy from amazon

Speaking of sweat, the BE Sport3 are IP55 rated, meaning they are highly water and dust resistant. The Sport3 also have about 10 hours of battery life on paper, surprisingly in my tests I was able to get this much out of them as well. It takes about 50 minutes to charge completely (over a micro-USB port in the remote controller of the earbud wire).

Trade-Offs

That remote controller is on the right side of the earbud cable and one of two small issues I have with the BE Sport3. The weight of the remote on the right side means it’s the right side that tends to fall out of your ear on occasion. But, let me be clear, these are the best wireless headphones I’ve used when running in terms of comfort and ear placement. In my opinion, for sport headphones, especially wireless ones, staying in your ear is the most important feature.

nuforce optoma be sport3

Sound quality is good but tends to highlight mid-tones, so you don’t get a lot of bass or treble. NuForce probably keeps the price down by not developing an app to go with the earbuds, meaning you can’t make any audio adjustments. Otherwise, the pairing is solid, never choppy during my use, and the Sport3 do provide good seal from outside noise.

Is The BE Sport3 For You?

The NuForce BE Sport3 are excellent earbuds for runners. For the best audio quality, particularly on flights, you’re better off looking at the Bose QuietComfort, but they’re wired, for walking, and triple the price. On the lower end, a pair of TaoTronics for $20 will serve you decently, though have trouble staying put during heavy exercise.

As you can see in my full review video at the top of this post, the BE Sport3 often though go on sale (I post those here daily) for $50 or $60, and at those prices with this quality, you shouldn’t be looking at any other wireless sport headphones.

Cosplay Pictures And Video From Aniventure Comic Con Bulgaria

This past weekend over 10,000 people by my estimates attended Aniventure Comic Con Bulgaria, in the country’s capital city Sofia, including myself. One the best moments for me was meeting The Awkward Yeti cartoonist, Nick Seluk. His personal story of quitting his job and it’s connection to Heart and Brain, Lars, and his other comics was very inspirational. It’s a video I highly recommend you watch, especially if you’re pondering whether or not to follow a dream in your life.

I’ve been to lots of Star Trek conventions but this was my first dedicated comic convention. In terms of cosplay, Comic Con Bulgaria attendees had more elaborate, high-quality, handmade, work in much larger percentages than you see at a Star Trek convention. Cosplay was a big part of the Aniventure Comic Con and I took as many pictures as I could to share with you.

aniventure comic con bulgaria

comic con bulgaria cosplay

aniventure comic con cosplay

cosplay bulgaria

comic con bulgaria 2017

aniventure cosplay

comic con bulgaria 2017

comic con bulgaria 2017 cosplay

sofia bulgaria cosplay

cosplay bulgaria

cosplay bulgaria sofia

cosplay aniventure comic con 2017

aniventure cosplay

star wars cosplay bulgaria

cosplay 2017 bulgaria

comic con sofia

cosplay balkans

cosplay aniventure

star wars cosplay europe

cosplay comic con europe

aniventure comic con 2017

cosplay eastern europe

Since I’m not completely up on anime, I don’t have the descriptions of the costumes above. But, if you recognize any, please let me know in the comments below!

How Difficult Is It To Travel If You’re Vegan?

vegan lufthansa

Recently, after posting photos of the vegan meals being served in business class flights on various flights, a reader asked how difficult it would be to travel after switching to a vegan diet. It’s a big question with a lot depending on where you go, how you travel, and your personal preferences.

How Strict Are You?

There are a group of very strict vegans and those who don’t mind eating an egg or honey on occasion. (Up to a third of vegetarians eat meat when drunk, for example.) People “go vegan” for a variety of reasons – health, animal rights, lactose intolerance – so you may decide on shorter trips to just do your best. If you do, it’s better to accept the decision completely; stressing about finding suitable food options can easily ruin a vacation. On the other hand, if you’re committed to sticking to a strict vegan diet, you’ll need to prepare.

Planning Ahead Is Crucial

You hardly ever need to show up to an airport 3 hours before a flight but if you’re going to fly as a vegan, at the very least you need to arrange your meals well in advance. Ideally, you’ll need to specify at booking that you want a vegan meal. Practically, you’ll need to call the airline as well because in most cases if you don’t, expect a vegetarian meal with cheese.

shephards salad with cheese

Also, you better get to a grocery store first as well, since vegan meals on flights are rarely completely vegan, not to mention mostly salads or vegetables. (Lacking the beans, nuts, and soy many vegans use to supplement their diet with appetite-satisfying protein.) Apps like HappyCow can help you find vegan restaurants but remember that grocery store shopping is going to be a regular part of any trip you take.

More Developed Doesn’t Always Mean More Choices

Many people often assume that more developed countries have more vegan options. Scandinavians use a lot of dairy in their dishes for instance and the Japanese tend to have a diet rich in fish. Conversely, nations with meat-heavy traditional cuisines like Serbia and Kosovo are excellent for vegans. Much of Turkish cuisine too, is unintentionally vegan. India, famous for its vegetarian cuisine, can be hard for vegans due to the common use of clarified butter (ghee).

food chandni chowk

Vegan options actually vary much more between cities than nations. Germany, for example, isn’t the most vegan-friendly country but Berlin is one of the best cities for vegans. Larger cities tend to have more vegan options simply due to size, though it doesn’t always mean the restaurants will be close to your accommodation. Again, plan accordingly and get used to grocery store visits.

On the surface, it might not seem like a big jump to go from vegetarian to vegan because the world is getting close to being caught up on what a vegetarian is. Keep in mind that the concept of vegetarianism is still be confusing to many around the world, even though vegetarians make up about 20% the world population. There are far, far less vegans; therefore much less understanding of what vegan is.

To travel as a vegan you’ll not only need to get used to planning, shopping, and arranging your travels around the food you eat, but become very used to explaining as well. The summarized version of no-meat-no-dairy usually isn’t sufficient so study menus well, list ingredients, and accept that not every restaurant or waiter will be sensitive to your dietary restrictions.

Are you a traveling vegan? What would you add and what have your experiences been? Feel free to share in the comments below!

All The Tech Gear And Gadgets I Travel With (And Why): Sept. 2017 Update

foxnomad travel tech guide

The electronics I travel with allow me to run a business (not to mention have a lot of fun while doing it) from anywhere in the world. Being so mobile though means the gadgets I carry have to be portable, powerful, plus durable. Reliability is also important which is why I often use electronics that are one, if not more, model behind the latest version.

Frequent travelers often have to make some compromises with their technology, sometimes exchanging power for reliability, plus at the same keeping in mind that shiny scuffs fast and gravity loves to show off on hard airport floors. When I am in one place long enough, I use and test a lot of products sent to me and out of pocket, to find the travel-tech-sweet-spot for common gear so you don’t have to.

Here’s a look at all the electronics that have made it into my backpack in the photo above that yes, all fit into one ScanSmart 1900 carry-on bag.

Laptop: Macbook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015): 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7; 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 memory; 500GB SSD; AMD Radeon R9 M370X

macbook pro mid 2015

Main Video Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds

panasonic g85

As I mention in the video above, the main weakness of the point and shoot Lumix I carry, is the video quality. For the price, the Panasonic Lumix G85 is the best 4K camera (that records without time limits as many 4K cameras have) in a mirror-less body that’s smaller than a standard DSLR.

Point And Shoot Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS45 [Here’s my full review.]

lumix dmc-zs45

  • Recommended SD Card: 32GB SanDisk SDHC
  • Case: No link for the case, just a cheap one I grabbed at a shop somewhere.

Tripod: Joby GorillaPod Focus with Joby Ballhead

joby gorillapod

On top of the Lumix G85, I’m using a Rode VideoMicro for recording audio and an Aputure AL-M9 Amaran LED Light when needed. When I need to use both at the same time, the Movo Photo HVA20 Dual Shoe Bracket does the job well.

Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones [My full review.]

bose 20i headphones

Phone (Daily Driver): iPhone 6s (64 GB)/Space Grey

iphone 6s 64 gb space grey

I also travel with a Nexus 5X, primarily because it’s stock Android and gets updates from Google before most other phones, making it ideal for testing development versions of my WiFox and DroneMate apps. Speaking of app development, I also carry an iPhone 5s, 5, and 4s, all for app testing.

Drone: DJI Mavic Pro

dji mavic pro

Backpack: SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Laptop Bag

swissgear smartscan 1900 laptop bag

Cable Organizer: Cocoon Grid-It 10.5 x 7.5-Inch Organizer

cocoon grid-it

  • This is a major time-saver when going through airport security because you can pull out all of your cords and adapters at once. I’ve also noticed having cables organized like this means less time waiting for additional bags checks at security – a clump of cables often means re-scanning your backpack.

Portable Batteries: PowerStick+ (2300 mAh) PowerTrip (6000 mAh).

powertrip powerstick

These batteries have a standby time of up to a year so you’re much less likely to be on a train and realize your batteries died on the road. Read my full review here.

Connectors, Converters, And Other Accessories

For reading books or when I need a larger, mobile screen in general, I use a 64 GB iPad Air 2 protected by an Apple Smart Case.

You can see from the progression of the gadgets in my backpack from 2012, earlier this year, to now, that the larger electronic purchases are usually one or two off from the latest version. The longer a product is on the market the more time there is to see how well it was or wasn’t designed *cough, 2016 Macbook Pro* but being just behind the newest version means specs are still quite good. Most often, there aren’t major jumps in improvement between a version or two of phone or laptop these days.

Also, the cases I use are also more adapted to protecting electronics when they’re in a backpack, not from falls when they’re out and in use. This means I’m generally using sleeves and prefer a good fit (even from improvised cases like the lens case for the Mavic controller or SwissGear toiletry kits) than cases specifically designed for a given product.

When traveling, the best technology is often potent, portable, but not precious enough that your travel budget (or mental state) can’t handle a loss from damage or theft that might require a replacement. What are some of the electronics or gadgets you travel with and would recommend? I would be very interested to hear so let me know in the comments below!

I’ve Got Good, Free Coffee For You That Supports A Great Cause

Although coffee might not seem directly travel or technology related, it fuels a lot of our days when we’re on the road – and back home as well. A good friend of mine Felipe and his wife recently created a coffee subscription service that brings unique blends right to your door. At 1723 Coffee Roasters, you can choose single-origin, organic coffee blends from South and Central America to be delivered to your home or office on a weekly or monthly basis. For every subscription purchase, 1723 Coffee Roasters in partnership with the non-profit Techo, will help rebuild a home for a family that has been affected by a natural disaster in Central and South America.

1723 coffee coupon code

Felipe was kind enough to give all of us a coupon code so you can get your first order free on any subscription. There are more details in the video above but go to 1723Coffee.com, use the code “NOMAD” at checkout, and enjoy your next brew!

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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