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5 Travel Tips for Families of Children With Special Needs

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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!

Originally published: July 12, 2016
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