5 Travel Tips for Families of Children With Special Needs

With summertime in full swing and vacations spots ready to explore, here are five tips for reducing stress and maximizing fun when traveling with children with special needs.

1. Do your research.

The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. Research crowd sizes, wait times, guest assistance and disability guides for your destination. These days, nearly every popular tourist attraction provides information through an app, map or guest relations department that can tell you everything you need to know. Ample research before the trip allows for more focus on fun during the trip.

2. Share your research with your children.

Many children with special needs aren’t big fans of surprises. Let them know what to expect. Your destination should have a website with videos of its rides and attractions. If it doesn’t, check YouTube for videos previous visitors have shared. Talk to your child about what to expect to help reduce any anxiety, while also helping to build excitement about the trip.

3. Communicate with the staff.

Nobody knows more about the place you’re visiting than the people who work there. If you are visiting an amusement park with characters to meet, talk to the character handlers. Let them know if your child is scared or nervous. Let them know if your child would prefer a high-five over a big hug. Ask the staff about the best locations for a quiet break, the secret hideout spots or features not everyone else is aware of.

4. Stick to your schedule — with flexibility.

Try to stick to your schedule the best you can. If your child is used to a nap at a certain time, try to keep nap time on schedule. Eat meals close to the time you eat them at home. Kids like routines and they can help the day run smoothly. With that being said, you have to be flexible. Not everything will go as planned. Don’t let it stress you or your children. Be ready to make adjustments.

5. Know when enough is enough.

Even superheroes can’t get through everything in one trip. You can spend a whole year at Disney World and still not see everything there is to see. Know when enough is enough. Don’t worry about how much money you spent or trying to have the most perfect and memorable trip ever. Your trip will be more memorable and enjoyable if you know when to take a break or call it a day.

Happy travels!

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Other

A young girl peers into the lit display cabinet in a museum

My Daughter's Comment on a Field Trip Gave Me a Special Needs Parenting Revelation

A few weeks ago, I was able to take a day off work to do one of my most favorite things today – chaperone a class field trip. I was with my daughter’s third grade class at a living history presentation about the daily lives of Native Americans. The educator giving the tour asked, “What was the [...]
Heather's daughter Maya playing in the sprinkler

3 Reflections I Have After My Child's Hospital Stay

As a mom of two children with special needs, hospital visits are unfortunately inevitable for my family. Whether we’re there a few hours or a few days, there is always a period of reflection after my child is discharged. Here are three thoughts from our last visit: 1. The hospital staff doesn’t know how truly [...]
brothers about to go down a slide on a scooter

A Parent's Failures

I have failed at a lot of mommy things. You probably don’t see it from the outside looking in; I’m pretty dang good at looking like I’ve got it all together. Lately I’ve heard a lot of “I don’t know how you do it” and “Wow, you’re super mom.” I don’t want to wear that [...]
Curvy Kate Models

U.K. Lingerie Company, Curvy Kate, Launches ‘Fearlessly Diverse’ Ad Campaign

Curvy Kate, a U.K.-based lingerie company, is using its latest ad campaign to challenge social norms and redefine what it means to be “sexy.” Its new Scantilly line is modeled by eight diverse models including Megan Jayne Crabbe, a woman in recovery from anorexia; Therese Hansson, a woman with alopecia; and Taylor Crisp, a woman whose [...]