No matter where you choose to go, traveling with children always takes a lot of preparation and patience. When traveling with autistic children, it is important to plan ahead for any issues that may arise on your trip.
Parents magazine recently released their tips for flying with a child with autism easier. But we know the trip doesn’t stop there, so we’ve brought you more tips for traveling!
- Prepare your child for the trip: Make sure to talk to your child about the trip in the days leading up to it. Mark each day off the calendar as the trip gets closer and pack one thing with your child every day in their suitcase. The night before the trip, have them pack a bag with a few of their favorite things to bring along. Order a book or DVD about your destination and show your child where you’ll be staying.
- Prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario: Pack a separate bag with snacks, a reusable water bottle and treats for distractions during any breakdowns. You should also pack earplugs or “activity bags” with more of their favorite toys to keep them occupied during car or plane rides. Speak to guest services at any of the places you’ll visit to see if they can make any special accommodations for your family.
- Communicate: This is the number one piece of advice. If you’re flying, communicate with the people in the seats around you that your child has autism and may have a difficult time flying. Most times you’ll be met with compassion. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, print out cards with a bit of information about autism and your child and hand them out to the people directly near your seats.
- Talk to the airline beforehand: Most airlines are willing to accommodate special needs. Call the airline ahead of time if you would like to make any prior arrangements, like boarding early. If your child prefers a certain seat, most of the time it’s worth the extra fee to keep them happy. When you get to your gate, speak to the attendant again before boarding the flight.
- Be flexible: Have a plan B in case a certain place is not what you expected it to be, or ends up being more than your child can handle. Remember to slow down! Rest is essential for both you and your children to avoid exhaustion or sensory overload. Bring someone else with you for support and to give you a break- after all, it’s your vacation too 🙂