HotMamaTravel is aimed at helping families do more together for less. Kids can be unpredictable, needy and high-energy which makes trapping yourself in an airplane with one of these precious ticking time-bombs seem quite terrifying. If your child has special needs there is an extra added level of stress, but with the right tools travel is possible. We parents, who risk it to travel with our little ones, are not masochist (okay maybe a little). We just want to share these wonderful experiences with our little love bugs. My goal is to give all parents, no matter the age, the number or the needs of their children, the confidence and resources to get on that plane and take the family on an adventure.
Whether your kids have special needs or not, parents need to follow the same basic tips:
• Research: Look up the resorts in your desired destination. Many hotels and resorts cater to families, including those with special needs. For instance, Tradewinds in St. Pete, Fl, is an Autism friendly business according to C.A.R.D (Center for Autism and Related Disabilities). Here the staff has been trained by C.A.R.D and offer a variety of assistance to families such as safety kits for the room and sensory activities at the kids club. A little research will help parents from being caught off guard and more able to navigate throughout a location.
If your child has special dietary restrictions, research can help you map out where you will eat during your stay. Many hotels and restaurants are conscious of special diets and offer menus to accommodate such as gluten free menus.
• Come prepared: You know what makes your kid happy. I never travel without being fully stocked with their favorite snacks and exciting toys. I usually hit up the dollar store for a few funky fresh items so that they have some new things to play with and to hold their attention (for a minute). If your kids have special dietary needs then this is extremely important. Check with hotels ahead of time to make sure they have fridges in their room to store any special food you had to bring.
• Communicate: If you are flying be sure to contact the airline for any special requests. If your child requires specific seating, priority seating, meal requirements or help with disabilities, most airlines are very accommodating. Contact the TSA hot line at 855.787.2227 in addition to your airline for better assistance during security checks. Also, contact the hotel in which you are staying, that way you’ll have everything you need upon arrival.
Flying with special needs children:
• Start out by taking short trips. No long flights at first.This may be an overwhelming experience, so start small.
• Prep talk. I do this with my toddlers. I start talking about the trip months before, going over everything that we will be happening so that they are familiar with the process. Airports are full of lines and check points prepare your child for them.
• If your child has autism many airports have an autism access program, which allows parents to take their child through practice runs to get them familiar with the routine.
For more resources:
If you have any other suggestions for parents traveling with their children who have special needs, please let me know in the comments. Parents, if there is anything not covered in this post that you would like to know, contact me and I’ll find out for you! Happy travels!!