Are you ready to get back to traveling with family after avoiding it for a few years? Maybe you are ready to start checking a few destinations off your bucket list, but get anxious as soon as you consider what you need to go through to reach your destination? Or you are just wondering if you will have the resources your autistic family needs while away from home? Well, I can honestly tell you that I understand what you are going through!
I had those same feelings when my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. I struggled to work through those feelings, because I didn’t know anyone that could offer me the support, or the resources, I needed. Today, I can tell you that you don’t need to go through this alone. As a Certified Autism Travel Advisor, I have your back! There are so many autism friendly options available to you when you are traveling with family now. And I can help you find the perfect vacation destination, and plan your autistic family vacation.
How to Prepare for Traveling with Family in an Autism Friendly Way
Choose Your Destination Carefully
As I mentioned above, there are so many autism friendly destination options available. If you choose to have me plan your autism friendly vacation, I will ask you a few questions to learn more about your family and your autistic child’s needs.
The answers you give me will allow me to share which destinations would be perfect for your next vacation.
Of course, if you already know where you want to visit for your autism friendly vacation, I will be more than happy to plan it according to your family’s needs.
Enlist the Help of Your Autistic Child During the Planning Process
Honestly, all your kids are going to want to be involved in the planning process for every vacation you take. After all, they want to make sure they get to do a few items on their dream list!
But it is really important to make sure your autistic child has some input in the travel plans. You might want to give them an option of where to sit on the airplane. Some kids like to pack specific outfits in the suitcase. And others like to have the option of which snack they can bring.
Basically, give your autistic child choices that will not overwhelm them during the planning process. It will make them feel like they have a voice during this time away from home.
Be Prepared for Sensory Issues
Sensory issues can be a problem at any time with autistic children. But those sensory issues can really be problematic while traveling.
The loud engines of an airplane can be scary. Lots of people talking at once can create a buzzing sound.
The best way to prevent sensory issues like these is to be prepared with noise canceling headphones. Or a set of headphones they can use to play their favorite music.
Contact the Airline Prior to Your Departure Date
I always like to contact the airline we are flying on before our departure date. This ensures the airline understands that I am traveling with autistic children. The airline then shares pertinent information with the crew, which is helpful during the boarding process and the flight.
Contact TSA Cares
TSA Cares is a special program autistic families can use when flying. If you are interested in using this program, you must call 72 hours prior to your departure time.
A Passenger Support Specialist will be assigned to you for when you arrive at the airport. They will guide your autistic family through the screening process and assist with getting you to your gate if necessary.
You won’t get to skip the screening process with this option. But it can be helpful to have assistance in what can be a confusing time.
If you want to make this process even easier, I recommend signing up for TSA PreCheck in advance of your flight. Once approved, you won’t need to remove shoes, heavy sweatshirts or coats, and belts when you go through security. You can leave your laptop and approved liquids in your carry-on bag too.
There are so many other tips I could share with you, as you learn how to prepare for traveling with family in an autism friendly way. But I will stick with these to get you started and share other pertinent information as I am planning your next vacation. Let’s work together to make sure you don’t have any moments of anxiety, what if’s, or panic throughout the planning or execution of an autism friendly family vacation. Instead, the entire process can be filled with fun, excitement, and the promise of new adventures!