4 Tips for Traveling with Special Needs Children

Traveling gives you a chance to make memories with your family, but planning the trip can be a daunting task. Whether you’re planning a big vacation or a weekend getaway, it can be a challenge to find accommodations and activities that make everyone happy.

If you have a special needs child, there may be additional health and safety issues that you have to consider when making your plans.

1. Be Prepared – and Early – for Your Flight

Flying can be stressful for families, but arriving early and being prepared for your flight can make things less chaotic.

It’s also not a bad idea to shop around for the right airline before you even book your ticket. If your child has autism, for example, finding the right airline can be a little tricky. Do some research to find an airline that will be able to accommodate your needs.

Keep in mind that when flying, wheelchairs, assistive devices and pushchairs are not considered luggage and do not need to be checked. The airline will be required to help you stow, board and deplane with these items.

If this will be your child’s first time on an airplane, it may be best to prepare him or her for the experience. If your child has a better understanding of how the airport works and what goes on before you board the plane, it will make the entire process less stressful. You might consider doing an airport walk-through to help get your child more comfortable with the idea of flying.

2. Plan for Frequent Stops if You’re Driving

If you’re planning a road trip, make sure that you stop frequently to prevent meltdowns and give everyone a chance to stretch their legs. Long road trips can be hard on anyone, so you’ll want to take your child’s needs and preferences into consideration here.

Also, it’s a good idea to limit distracting the driver. You may want to consider having an adult sit in the back with the kids.

3. Look for Hotels with the Right Amenities

Finding suitable accommodations can be tricky if you have a special needs child. Before booking your stay, take a closer look at the amenities offered.

Here are some tips from Reservations.com:

  • If your child has a hearing impairment, it’s best to find accommodations in an area that’s walkable. Less vehicle traffic immediately near the hotel reduces the risk of your little one walking the grounds unaware of approaching cars.
  • Look for accessibility features, including ramps and elevators, to accommodate mobility impairments.
  • If food allergies are a concern, look for a room that comes with a mini fridge, microwave, and/or stovetop so you can cook safe meals in your own room.

You can read more about amenities and other tips for finding the right hotel for your special needs child at Reservations.com.

4. Try to Avoid Overstimulation

Overstimulation can be a problem for any family, and eliminating it can help prevent tantrums.

Whether you’re flying to your destination or traveling by car, you may want to bring along some sensory processing toys. These toys can help kids decompress while you’re reaching your destination.

Chewing gum and oral stimming chewies can help prevent ear popping, which can sometimes lead to overstimulation and even confusion.

Traveling with a special needs child requires some additional planning and preparation, but it’s worth the effort to make special memories with your family.