Living in Budapest: Our Journey to Budapest

Moving overseas with a pet requires organization, USDA paperwork, patience and sometimes multiple leg journeys by car and air. This is the break down of how my dog Tanner and I arrived in Budapest.

Miles Driven 1,822

Rental Cars (4)

Miles Flown 5,518

Flights (4)

How Do The Miles Break Down?

1,140 miles, driving round trip from my family’s home in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Bethesda, Maryland to the Search Associates Recruitment Fair.

682 miles driven alone with my dog Tanner from Fort Wayne, Indiana to North Beach Maryland to my cousin Cindy’s home, and on to Dulles Airport to depart for Budapest.

jeep liberty
Our ride to Maryland

Our Flights

931 miles flown from Fort Wayne, Indiana to St. Petersburg, FL to complete the transfer of my household goods to a smaller storage unit.

Flights Missed (1)

Leaving St. Petersburg on a 6 am flight, I overslept (sleeping through two alarms) and missed my flight.

Cost…don’t ask.
An additional same day flight to a nearby city.
A one way rental car.
An additional 101 miles driven.

Flying with Dogs; Doggie and Mom Flights (2)

Lufthansa Budapest

pet airline ticket

4,587 miles flown by Tanner and I together from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Budapest, Hungary. Layover time: 12 hours to make certain Tanner got his pet rest stop for potty breaks, food and rest. (5 hour minimum required by Lufthansa Airlines.)

You Can’t Make This Shit Up

The last thirty six hours have been intense and insane. As if it wasn’t enough that I was a little over a day from driving twelve hours to Maryland for our flight, I got two unexpected phone calls.

Your USDA Paperwork Must Be Redone

I’m a very detailed person when it comes to paperwork for overseas pet entry. I knew I’d crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s. So what was going on? Apparently airlines are now rejecting paperwork (According the USDA vet I spoke with) when your regular vets signature is more than ten days old. The paperwork stated 21 days for the vet signature and ten days for the USDA approval, stamp and signature. We were right in that window.

I’m departing in 24 hours to drive to Maryland. What Can I Do?

By no coincidence, my vet was in the city of Indianapolis (where the USDA vet office is) for a meeting. There are miracles everywhere and I definitely had a few angels working on this one. The vet commented to me, someone up there is looking out for you. He kindly drove to the USDA office on his own time to get my paperwork completed.

Not So Fast……It Isn’t That Easy

While the USDA vet helped my vet fill out the paperwork, my vet still had to drive back to Fort Wayne and examine Tanner again, and then we both had to sign off on the paperwork. Did I mention this all had to happen exactly in the middle of my going away dinner?

Oh Yes, Let’s Jump Through Hoops and Drive All Over The City.

At 455 pm as I was walking out the door to meet eight people for my going away dinner I got a call from my vet. Lisa, you need to meet me at my office at 630 so I can examine Tanner and we can complete these USDA papers and give you time to get them to Fed Ex for the USDA signature.

Do You See The Wall and the Cartoon Lisa Smashing Into It?

WHAT??? WE ALREADY DID THE EXAM. Yes, well they are requiring another, within the ten day window. Okay, so as I am saying,” Yes, I will be there at 6:30 I am also thinking now what the hell am I going to do with the eight people who are coming to have dinner with me and say goodbye……………………%!@#

Plan B on Ten Second’s Notice

Thankfully I had arranged the dinner at an outdoor venue. So I took Tanner in the car with us, and ran the a/c for 40 minutes for him to be comfortable in 95 degree heat while my family and friends and I had pre dinner appetizers. The entire time I had one eye on the car, as it wouldn’t lock while the motor was running. Yes, this is my life. Try relaxing and enjoying dinner with friends and family….while chaos reigns.

Off To The Vet

After 40 min I dash off to the vet with a friend to help me, while my family goes into the restaurant to have dinner without me. That’s just how I envisioned my going away dinner…..ha ha.

One Hour and Forty Five Minutes Later….

I have my completed paperwork, I have dropped it off at Fed Ex, while my friend and dog sat in the air conditioned car. I drove back across town to drop off the dog and then drove back to the restaurant with my friend before my family gave up on me.

By the time I’d arrived, most everyone had finished dinner, except two late arriving friends who were eating as we arrived. Nice…..going away dinner…

The Aftermath
I got a call from the USDA this afternoon, they wanted my credit card information to charge the $37 dollar payment for the USDA stamp and signature. THAT MEANS IT WAS APPROVED!! WHOO HOO!!

Fed Ex My New Best Friend

The USDA vet is (as I am writing this) sending my paperwork overnight to my family in Maryland. (I sent him a prepaid Fed Ex envelope with the paperwork last night.) I will praying more than usual tomorrow, and will breath a big sigh of happiness when the completed paperwork arrives at my cousin Cindy’s house tomorrow morning.

For Added Fun

Today is departure day….

I worked until 1 am sorting and organizing last minute things that will be shipped to Florida to my storage. I went promptly this morning with my cousin John to pick up my rental SUV. After dealing with a very unfriendly agent at Alamo/National I opted for another company. Seriously?? Why do people feel the need to work in customer service if they are not happy friendly people? To my credit, in the last 48 hours I have not raised my voice, melted down or lost it with any of the people mentioned in this post. This lady was seriously pushing it, but I moved on.

jeep liberty

I’m happy, I have a rental SUV, for our one way trip to Maryland. No small feat to get a one way SUV without paying a million dollars.

I drive home, ready to pack the jeep and get Tanner settled.


The redesigned Liberty cargo area is higher than my previous Liberty, plus Tanner is older and yes bigger. WE literally tried everything. No go… I call Pets Mart, they have a doggie ramp and a doggie stair case for SUV’s and trucks. I drive to Pets Mart and buy the stairs. I drive home and pray alot.

pet store

travel pet stairs


Tanner is the most sweet, kind dog in the universe….WHAT IS GOING ON????

Thankfully my friend Myscha had called to offer insight and support. She suggested her tried and true method to get her labrador in the SUV. Use a sarong or sheet to help lift their hind quarters and assist them to get in. I thought there was no way on the earth it would work, Tanner is a BIG dog. Thankfully after a couple attempts it worked and Tanner got in the jeep. (I thought for a trial run.)

Apparently No

He refused to get out…he knew I was leaving and he wasn’t taking a chance on being left behind. He knew I’d been packing for several days, he’s a smart dog. He was in first and ready to go. Thankfully the rest of day was uneventful and our drive smooth. We will be in Maryland tomorrow, giving us a day and a half to rest before our departure to Budapest. Yah, we are on the way!!

What a Blessing!

Until we land safely in Budapest, and Tanner clears Customs I request prayers for a safe journey and perfect paperwork.

Breaking Down an International Move into Daily Steps

The Key to Surviving an International Move

1. Take it day by day.
Don’t waste your energy thinking about the WHOLE PROCESS.
It will kill you.
Just focus on what you have to accomplish today.

My List for Saturday

Pick up Tanners completed international vet certificate.
Pick up items at Staples office supply store.
Fill out medical documents for my new employer.
Pick up groceries.
Pay bills.
Connect with friends about good bye activities.

2. Keep a pad of paper near your bed.
Each time a detail comes to your head about your move…write it down.
This will save you later.

3. Have a master calendar

Write every single meeting and errand on it.

3b. Work Backwards

Put your departure date on the calendar and begin working backwards to determine when something needs to be done.
Seeing the final date and the calendar filling up shows you how quickly you need to move on particular tasks.

4. Connect with Friends and Loved Ones
This will help you stay sane.

I’m Moving to Hungary

A new adventure awaits us in Hungary. In one month I depart with my dog Tanner for my new job in Hungary. My experience will begin in Budapest where I have accepted a two year teaching contract.

feeling joy
Photo Credit: Balanced.Crafts Flickr

I interviewed with multiple schools and received two offers, both were exceptional.

It was a tough decision

I feel very blessed to have been offered two excellent schools in two great countries. Ultimately I chose a school in Budapest and will rediscover my love of Europe with my dog Tanner by my side.

Walls of Budapest

A view of Budapest
Photo Credit Yazan Badran