Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie. | My Meena Life

Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.

Allow me to introduce Koopa, my four year old pet budgie, emotional service animal, and pint sized travel companion.  He’s named after Koopa Troopa, a turtle-like character from the Super Mario series.  His favorite foods include corn, applesauce, and tortilla chips.  He can talk a little bit, and really enjoys saying “baby bird” and “pew pew pew”.  His most treasured toys include a ‘no smoking’ sign (that we may or may not have stolen for him) and a gold dollar sign on a chain that cost 50 cents at Walmart.  He loves climbing in my hair, flying laps around our apartment, and taking ice baths in my water.  He requires constant supervision.


Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie. | My Meena Life


I love him so much it hurts.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Koopa is that he travels with us!  People are always very surprised that we have a pet budgie, and then even more surprised to learn that we treat our bird like most people treat their dogs – including taking him along on trips.  So today I’m going to tell you all about Koopa’s life and travels.


Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.

Mr. Meena and I got Koopa in September of 2013 after I spent the entire summer wearing down my soon-to-be husband with my repeated requests for a pet budgie.  He showed up at my apartment one morning and said those words I’d been longing to hear for so long, “Let’s go get a bird.”  And so we did.

Three short months later we took our pet budgie on his first trip – our honeymoon.  Our family enjoyed five nights together at a cabin in the mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.


A young Koopa on his first trip. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


We then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to start our life together.  This is when we began spoiling Koopa in earnest.  We bought him way too many toys and even got him a real tree to play on.  When I started a full time job later in the year, we bought him a bird mansion so he’d have lots of space to play during the day while we were gone.


Spoiling Koopa. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


It wasn’t long before we took our first big trip without Koopa.  We left him with plenty of food and entertainment, had family check on him, and even set up Skype so I could call and video chat with him 26 times a day.  But the trip took a bigger toll on him than we’d expected (and I really hated leaving him behind).  So we tried our best to either take short trips or plan trips where Koopa could come along.  It’s really hard to take him on trips where don’t have a home base for him to stay at during the day.  For example, if we are checking out of a hotel and then spending the day at a theme park, we can’t take him along or check him into a kennel like a dog owner could.

We did take him back Pigeon Forge for our anniversary trip, however, and down to Florida to visit Mr. Meena’s grandparents.


Road trips with Koopa. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


Koopa loves road trips.  He chirps along with the music and loves to look out the window.  We have definitely surprised some fellow drivers we pass along the way.  I love how easy it is to travel with a bird – we don’t have to stop for pee breaks and all his food and water is contained inside his carrier.


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When we got the opportunity to move to Germany in 2015 I knew that leaving Koopa behind was not an option.  We moved heaven and earth to take him abroad with us (actually, Mr. Meena did most of the work because I’d have a meltdown each time someone said it wouldn’t be possible to take him).

Taking any kind of bird across country lines is unbelievably difficult because of the bird flu.  In the end it cost us $700 and we spent countless hours on the phone with the USDA, the extremely unhelpful import staff at the Frankfurt airport, and US Wildlife Services.  It also took three trips to our amazing veterinarian, one trip to the USDA office in Raleigh two days before our flight, and one overnighted package to a lab in Nevada that agreed to test Koopa’s saliva for the avian flu even though there is no test available for parakeets (we had to prove that he wasn’t infected since there is also no vaccine available for parakeets).  Truly, the requirements we had to jump through in order to import our pet budgie into the European Union were far beyond reasonable, especially when you compare them to what is required to bring a pet dog or cat.


Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


Aside from the logistical nightmare of it, we had great fun actually taking Koopa to Germany.  Everyone working airport security was delighted to meet him and Koopa chirped throughout the entire airport.  The stewardesses on the plane exclaimed when they saw him and Koopa actually did quite well on his first flight across the Atlantic.  When we landed in Frankfurt and met our driver, Uwe, Koopa chirped a welcome to him, too.

We encountered a few issues when we settled into our new home – a hotel in Schweinfurt.  There were no window screens (and also no AC, so we needed to open the windows often), which meant Koopa had to be locked up each time we had to open a window.  (We eventually installed window screens, to the frustration of the hotel owners.)  The hotel staff repeatedly used their cleaning solutions when he was in the room – a big no no – even after repeatedly being asked not to.  They would also turn off the electricity to our rooms if we weren’t there, which put Koopa at risk of freezing to death in the winter.  It was frustrating to have to constantly protect our pet budgie, because he is very delicate and not many people are aware of the dangers he faces.

It wasn’t long before Koopa took his first trip within Germany, though.  He accompanied us to Munich in November, traveling on a train for the first time.  He also came with us on our anniversary trip to Tannheim, Austria a month later.


Koopa with Mr. Meena. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


Halfway through our time in Germany, Koopa surprised us all when he laid an egg.  Our vet had told us that Koopa’s coloring could be either male or female, but it wasn’t until we discovered the egg that we knew for sure.  But Koopa’s import paperwork listed him as male and our attempts at switching from “good boy” to “good girl”failed miserably.  So decided to keep referring to Koopa as male unless we”re at the veterinarian or it’s medically relevant for some reason.

In the summer of 2016 we took Koopa to Hamburg, Germany.  He sat on the dashboard while we zoomed along the autobahn and joined us outside for pit stops along the way.  When we stopped in Hildesheim to walk the Rose Route we took Koopa on the walk with us in his travel carrier.  We confused a lot of Germans that day.


Koopa travels to Hamburg. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.


That trip was a bit rough for us because, despite asking the hotel staff multiple times not to clean our room, our room was cleaned every day with strong cleaning solutions that could have hurt or even potentially killed Koopa.  It was an extremely frustrating situation and part of the reason why it is so difficult to travel with a pet bird.  We’ve almost never had problems in the United States with hotel staff cleaning our room when we’ve given them explicit instructions not to.  We have gradually transitioned to using Airbnb rentals (or something similar) where it’s stated up front that your room will not be cleaned during your stay.  It’s really the only way we can be sure that Koopa is safe while we go out to do something.

We flew home with Koopa in October 2016 after once again meeting a long list of exhausting import / export requirements.  The Frankfurt airport staff told us many times, with uncharacteristically big smiles, that our Wellensittich was Wunderschön.  Other travelers with pet carriers kept asking if we had a hamster because our carrier was too small for most cats or dogs.  Imagine their surprise when a bright yellow head popped up in response.

As soon as the USDA quarantine period was over (Koopa was not allowed to leave our home for 30 days after being imported) we headed to Florida with our pet budgie.  He was surprisingly unfazed by his recent international journey and was an absolute delight during the trafficky road trip south.


Our pet budgie poolside.


A month later we took him to a rustic cabin in the mountains of North Carolina for our third anniversary.


Our pet budgie, Koopa.


Koopa’s most recent trip was to the Stecoah House, a super luxurious two story cabin that’s also located in the mountains of North Carolina (one of our favorite nearby getaway locations).


My budgie, Koopa, at the Stecoah House.


We love traveling with Koopa so much and hope that we can do it even more in the future.  (In case you’re wondering, budgies often live to be 12 years old.)  Taking Koopa along enhances our travels in the same way that he enhances our lives.  When there is a traffic jam, Koopa is there wanting to play games.  When we have a disagreement, Koopa hops between us and makes us smile.  Unless he is tired or molting, Koopa is full of pure, infectious happiness.  As someone with chronic pain, it really helps me to have such a sweet pet along on trips, especially because my pain can be severe while traveling.  Koopa is a great distraction and gives me something positive to focus on when my pain flares up.  Traveling with a pet budgie can be difficult at times, but it’s absolutely worth it.

So there you have it, the bird that has been to Germany and back.  He’s probably traveled to more places than a lot of people have!

Do you travel with your pet?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

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Koopa at the Stecoah House. | Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.

This post is linked up with Faraway FilesFeet Do Travel, Weekend Wanderlust, and The Weekly Postcard:

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46 thoughts on “Koopa the Traveling Pet Budgie.

  1. I travel with dogs, so a whole different plan. I have to book pet friendly hotels and then there's this nasty trend over the years to charge $25 per night per dog or whatever nightly fee. It means mainly looking for places like Motel 6 that don't charge or airbnb.

    A few years ago when selling my father's RV, a smallish Winnebago, we sold to a couple who were specifically looking for a model that would be good for traveling with their birds.

    As for hotels and cleaning solutions, look for green hotels. Delta (now part of Marriot) and Westin come to mind. You can go green which means opting out of housecleaning services and you get rewards like $5 off the bill per day or travel points or chocolates.

    1. I’m sure that fee could add up quickly! I’ve heard some dog owners say there’s no mention of a fee until they’re checking out, which is doubly frustrating. How neat to hear of another couple wanting to travel with their birds! That’s a really great idea about the green hotels, I will definitely remember that for next time. Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl!

  2. Aww this is such a sweet story!! Koopa is adorable and I'm so glad that he found a home like yours 🙂 Had no idea though that German hotels are so stubborn when it comes to cleaning… Good that Koopa managed!!!

    1. Thanks!! Yes I wish I could say it was just those few times but we always ask for it not be cleaned, even if Koopa wasn’t with us, and that rarely happened. I guess they just like to be clean. 🙂

  3. Wow Ava – this is one of the most interesting travel stories I have read! Good on you for taking your budgie with you. My first pet was a budgie who arrived on our porch one morning and never left so I have a real soft spot for those sometimes cheeky birds! Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m also glad to hear you have a soft spot for budgies. 🙂

  4. My grandfather had a beloved budgie named Charlie, and when my grandparents moved from one side of Canada to the other, they drove, with Charlie in the backseat. Staff at hotels were always surprised and delighted when my grandfather checked in with chirpy Charlie in his cage!

  5. What a well traveled bird! And you're so right- he's probably been to more places than most people. I have a little stuffed dog that I bring with me on my travels and has definitely been to more places than most people, but good for you for traveling with a real pet! He seems to be a real trooper 😀

  6. Oh this is adorable, Ava! I LOVED reading about Koopa. It's great that you've been able to take 'him' on so many journeys with you. We take our huge, crazy labradoodle with us when we're travelling in the UK but not when we go abroad. I've recently been converted into loving birds by falling in love with our Pekin bantam, Lady Mary. I never realised how much character they had until we had our chicken. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely story on #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks so much, Clare! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And that’s very cool that you have a chicken! It has also been my experience that most birds have huge, fun personalities! 🙂

  7. What a charming and unique story Ava! I think i might be as curious and surprised as the Germans to see Koopa out and about with you on the road! A traveling bird? Why not?! Nice to meet Koopa! Maybe a regular series in the making or her own Instagram account! #FarawayFiles, Erin

  8. Koopa is really adorable. I can see your love for him brimming over. It is really fascinating to be able to travel with him, I can understand that this would be challenging and at the same time a lovely experience.

  9. So happy to read about Koopa and how well he travels and is a great companion to you both. You had a lots of hoops to go through to live in Germany but happy it all worked out. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

  10. Aww he's so cute. Such a well travelled bird. We have never heard of a travelling budgie! You should write a children's storybook from his perspective, Adventures of Koopa 🙂

  11. Love this! How wonderful that he's such a good traveler and love that he gets to along with you guys on adventures.

  12. So cute! I used to have 2 pet parakeets but I never even tried to travel with them. Glad to hear yours is a good traveler. It makes for great pictures. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  13. Beautiful story. Kopa is quite a sweetie! My aunt had an identical one who used to stay on her right hand as she was writing letters. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  14. How fun that you can take him everywhere with you! A couple of years ago I gave my husband an ultimatum. A baby…. or a puppy. haha I wanted the latter, and I'm still waiting! 🙁 Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  15. What a beautiful budgie, we have a lovely lime and yellow one. But we've never taken him on holiday. Sounds like we should.
    #TheWeeklyPostcard (Toddlers on Tour)

    1. Thank you! I hope you do try taking him on holiday sometime – it might be a lot of fun for everyone! Thanks for commenting!

  16. Wow, this is really neat! I really enjoyed reading this post! What an adorable bird! I love how much you love her! Do you have difficulty finding accommodations that will accept her?

    1. Thanks so much, Hilary! 🙂 So far we haven’t had any problems – all dog/cat friendly places we’ve inquired at have also been bird friendly. We’ve even asked quite a few places that are not pet friendly if we could bring our bird and they have been fine with it (although sometimes they ask that we keep Koopa caged during our stay). I think a lot of people think that bringing a bird is like bringing a fish or something – that they can’t cause damage, even though they most definitely can! But we don’t point that out, and we always watch Koopa very carefully to make sure he doesn’t chew on anything.

  17. What a cutie! I'm surprised that traveling by car doesn't affect him. My dog can only handle about 6 hours then he starts getting anxious. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Thanks! He does have a hard time in the car when it’s dark, it is hard for him to hold on to his perch and the like when he can’t see (or is tired).

  18. I love that he loves to go on holidays! We had a super tame budgie called Holly when we were kids. He ruled the house and hated being in his cage! Thanks for sharing #theweeklypostcard

    1. Haha yes I know that attitude, ha! It’s tough to put our bird to bed at night – he just wants to stay out and play. So glad to hear you enjoyed your pet budgie growing up! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

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