How to Travel with Cremated Remains
One of the nicest benefits of cremation is that you are not restricted in how you transport your loved one. Because you do not have to worry about health and sanitation restrictions, you can take the remains with you when you move, travel overseas, or come up with a plan for the disposal of the ashes.
Of course, that does not mean traveling with an urn is always easy (or recommended). Depending on how you plan to travel and what your end goal is, you will find there are several different ways to safely transport human (or pet) ashes.
Transporting Ashes by Car
If you will be driving to your destination, the most important factor is finding a cremation vessel that won’t spill or break on the road. Traditional urns tend to be beautiful but not very functional, which means it is best to find a temporary holding case of cardboard, plastic, or wood. Many companies make beautiful and elegant boxes just for the travel process, or you can devise your own.
The most important thing to remember is that it is best to think in layers. If the ashes are in a plastic bag, make sure it is also packed in a secure outer box. Even with a box, it is best to keep a smaller one inside a larger one (with wadding to hold it in place). This extra layer of protection will prevent accidents or mishaps even if something happens to the car on the road.
Transporting Ashes by Plane
When you travel by air, you have two options for the cremated remains: you can bring it as carry-on luggage or check it for the flight. Carry-on urns and/or boxes must pass through the x-ray machine and TSA guidelines, which means it is best to choose wood, cardboard, plastic, or any other non-leaded or non-metal material. If it cannot be easily scanned, you won’t be allowed to bring it on the plane.
Some (but not all) airlines will allow you to check the ashes in your regular luggage. Always be sure to ask if it is allowed before you purchase your plane ticket, and make sure the urn is very secure, sealed, and protected against breakage. Glass or ceramic urns rarely travel well under these conditions, and cardboard can be crushed. A tightly-sealed wooden box or special travel urn is best. Regardless of what type of container you use, be sure and notify the luggage attendants so they can handle the bag with the proper amount of care and respect.
In both cases, you may want to have a copy of the cremation certificate with you in case someone wants to confirm the contents.
Transporting Ashes over State/Country Lines
If you will be traveling internationally, be prepared to meet the requirements set out by your destination country. In most cases, you will need a death certificate that states the cause of death.
Mailing Cremated Remains
Another option is to ship the remains by mail, which is fully legal as long as you send it via registered mail and with a return receipt. The person you are shipping it to will also need to sign for the pickup (or even go to the post office to retrieve the package), so make sure you have someone reliable waiting at the other end of the journey.
As is the case with most other forms of cremation travel, you will need to double box and carefully seal this package.
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