According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), more than 55 million people will be traveling this Thanksgiving. In fact, AAA reports that Thanksgiving 2019 “will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000.”
Holiday travel isn’t easy under any circumstances and traveling with kids makes it more challenging. When your child has a disability, it can be even more difficult. We’ve compiled the following list of holiday travel tips that will minimize your stress. Here’s wishing you and yours a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
Do some research
If you’re traveling by car, educate yourself about the best places to stop for bathroom and food breaks. This is especially important if your child uses a wheelchair. If your child is medically fragile, find out about hospitals, pharmacies and clinics near your destination to be prepared should any unexpected problems arise.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) offers passenger support for travelers with disabilities. To have all your concerns addressed before flying, contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours before your flight. You can also request a TSA Passenger Support Specialist if you encounter any difficulties at the airport.
Consider travel insurance
Though travel insurance adds to the significant expense of flying, it may be worth the investment, especially when traveling with medically fragile children. Hopefully, you will not need to use it but you’ll be grateful that you have it should you need to cancel your trip.
Pack your carry-on bag carefully
Make sure to pack your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket, books, coloring supplies or anything that will keep your child occupied and calm during long waits in airports or on trains and buses. Bring healthy snacks and drinks and don’t forget to pack an extra change of clothes and extra medication. If you’re driving, consider suspending any screen-time rules and allow children to use iPads to play games or watch movies. We’re in survival mode here!
Prepare your child for security protocols
If your child is on the autism spectrum, or simply anxious about new or unexpected situations, discuss airport security processes in advance. You might also create a social story to help your child understand what to expect at the airport.
Check out airport resources
In recent years, some airports have added sensory rooms where people with disabilities and all stressed out travelers can enjoy some relaxation in between flights. See this recent Enabling Devices’ blogpost for more information.
Alert hosts to your child’s special needs
Whether you’re visiting friends, family or staying at a hotel, letting your hosts know about your child’s needs before you arrive can make everyone more comfortable. For more hints about lessening stress around holiday gatherings, check out some of Enabling Devices’ blogposts.
Don’t expect perfection
When traveling with kids, meltdowns, whining and a certain amount of drama is inevitable. With any luck, your journey will unfold with as little as possible. So, take a deep breath and soldier on. Hopefully, it will all have been worth it when you reach your destination.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Enabling Devices!