Top 5 Tips for Traveling With a Special Needs Child

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Family vacations always create a lifetime worth of memories, but also bring with
them more than a fair amount of stress. Sure, it’s always great to reconnect with your
family and spend time with the kids away from the worries of your everyday life. But
your best laid plans can go horribly wrong, and even under ideal circumstances you’re
going to do battle with grumpy and hungry kids, traffic, and unexpected changes in your
itinerary. Now if you are traveling with a special needs child, you’ve got another level of
worry to manage. There’s no reason why you and your special needs kids can’t have the
same kind of fantastic trip that other families enjoy, as long as you do the proper amount
of planning. Here are five of the top tips to help you travel with your special needs

First of all, make sure you seriously research your chosen destination. You don’t
necessarily have to have every minute of the trip laid out, but if you’re not at least
aware of the possible pitfalls, you could end up dealing with something unexpected
that really ruins things. The key is handling all of the preparation without making your
child feel awkward or different. Reach out to all of the companies assisting you with
travel, the hotels you will stay with, and any other aspects of your trip to insure they
are prepared to handle any of your child’s special requirements. That way any medical,
physical or dietary needs will be covered, and you can rest easy and actually enjoy your
trip. But pull together a list of top contacts, so you know where all the pharmacies are
around your destination, and be clear before you leave that all of your chosen spots are
accessible for your child if he or she has any physical limitations.

Whether you are traveling by plane, car, train or horseback, chances are there will
be a moment when your child’s patience wanes. Since you would probably prefer to
arrive at your destination without a splitting headache, make sure you are fully stocked
with toys to keep your child occupied. DVD players and digital gaming systems are
great, but what if they break or run out of juice? Make sure you also have traditional
toys, books, stuffed animals and other games that your kids will be able to use any time
of the day or night. And if your children are sensory-affected, toys that they can chew on
without concern are must-haves.

Another key for the trip is plenty of snacks. This is going to be hugely important if
your children have some sort of special diet, but in any case kids will lose patience in
a hurry with long trips if they don’t have some sort of snacks to keep them going. Go
with healthy options, such as fruits and chopped veggies, and stock a travel cooler with
plenty of water and chilled drinks to maintain peace and an enjoyable trip.

You should also make some sort of plan with your spouse for how the kids will be
handled. International travel can be especially chaotic, so each parent should know
which child they are responsible for, and there should be an overall strategy. How will
bathroom breaks be handled, or who will take care of strollers and wheelchairs?

Finally, while you don’t ever want things to go wrong you should certainly be
prepared for it. All that means is understanding where the help is located wherever
you go. The security guards at the airport, the staff at the hotel (who hopefully went to hotel management school), or whomever else would come to your assistance if the worst case scenario were to occur should be aware of your presence, so you’ll have less to tell them in case of an emergency.
You may not be able to have replacement parts on standby with, but
if you can at least identify things that could be disastrous and remove them from your
child’s path, you’ll rest easy during your travels.

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