If it is possible for your turtle to avoid travel, it should do so. Always do the following:
- Take the turtle out of its enclosure, and transport the enclosure separately.
- Put the turtle into a nice, clean box, laid out with newspaper, paper towels, or kitchen towels.
- Close the box, so that the turtle cannot escape, but make sure it has some air, and you can open the box.
- Don't feed a couple of days before the trip. This helps avoid soiling of the box. You'll both be happier for it.
- If your trip is longer than, say, 12 hours, and it's warm (not an issue on airplanes), soak the turtle in water for 30 minutes twice a day to prevent dehydration.
- Don't feed if the trip is less than a few days.
- Keep the turtle clean and as calm and undisturbed as possible. Travel is stressful for them!
Dealing with Heat:
If you expect it to be over 90F/36C, you have to cool the turtle. This is tricky, especially on a long trip in the trunk of a car. If you have AC, keep the interior of the car warm and let the turtle ride with you. (If you keep the AC on too much, the turtle will be too cold.)
- Put a thermometer in with the turtle, and check it every 15-30 minutes.
- On a short trip, simply put a wet towel in with the turtle. The evaporation will keep the turtle cool for a short trip.
- Long trips are tricky. One way that I was told works, is to put the box with the turtle into a cooler in a cool place. Close the cooler. Since coolers are airtight, the temperature will only increase slowly. This is only good for a relatively short trip and modest heat.
- For a longer trip, add a cool pack to the cooler. Then check on the temperature every half hour to an hour, depending on how hot it is outside. Cooling is tricky, but your turtle is much more likely to die of heatstroke than a bit of undercooling.
- Alternatively, you can pack the turtle with the towel, then spray it with water or give it a bath every once in a while.
- How you are cooling depends a lot on how the turtle travels, whether you have access to the container, how long the trip is, and what temperature gradients you expect.
- Never put ice or a cool pack directly next to the turtle. The turtle can get frostbite!
Dealing with Cold:
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature every hour.
- This is much easier than cooling. Put the box with the turtle into a cooler and add a heat pack. You can use the kind that you heat up in hot water for a short trip, or a chemical one for a long trip.
- If the cold is moderate and the trip not too long, a bottle of boiling water put into the cooler, or wrapped into a towel and put directly next to the turtle, will work quite well.
- Never let the turtle sit next to an unwrapped source of heat, or it will get burns.
- Turtles, like all live animals, must travel in a pressurized compartment. If you can fit the turtle into a cat carrier that fits under your seat, you will often be allowed to take it in with you. Check with the airline before you buy the ticket! Make sure to provide some drinking water if the flight is more than a few hours.
- I much recommend you go for the above. If the turtle has to go into a pressurized luggage compartment, like the big dogs, just make him/her comfy and give him/her a warm bottle. Get details from the airline on temperature in the compartment!
- Transport the turtle in a proper animal carrier. Not only are they required by most airline companies, they also up the chances that the "package" is treated like a live animal. ]
- Last I checked, only Delta Air Freight accepted live animals for shipment. They have strict rules on packing and you should get and follow their instructions. They know what they are doing; they ship zebras and kangaroos and sea turtles.
- Don't. The post office does not allow it, does not provide for it, and won't help if your animal dies or gets lost.
- Stuffing your turtle into a sock and mailing it may work, on occasion, and people do it, but I really do not recommend it at all. Imagine yourself traveling as a mummy in a sarcophagus. There--you wouldn't like that much either, would you?