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Traveling with Children Supportive Needs: Tips for a Smooth Journey


Traveling with children with supportive needs can be a rewarding and enriching experience for both parents and the kids themselves. However, it does require some extra preparation and consideration to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. In this blog post, we'll provide valuable tips on how to prep your child for travel, suggest suitable snacks and games, and offer guidance to make your trip a memorable one.


Pre-Trip Preparation:

- Familiarize your child with the concept of travel using visuals, social stories, or videos to reduce anxiety. Here is a link to a wonderful social story about flying: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kTym9P6dg74553zn6ANkwoVCKI9G930y/view

- Visit the airport or transportation terminal beforehand, if possible, to help your child become accustomed to the environment.

- Create a visual schedule for the trip to help your child understand the sequence of events. Here s an example of a visual schedule about going on an airplane: http://livingwellwithautism.com/assets/docs/plane-trip.184114131.pdf


Packing Essentials:

- Pack familiar items that provide comfort, such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or sensory toys.

- Include noise-canceling headphones to minimize sensory overload during noisy travel situations.

- Bring any necessary medications, medical documents, and a first aid kit. remember to have your child’s medical ID bracelet on them in case they elope and have an emergency or for some reason you are otherwise separated, people will be able to contact you immediately. One of the bracelets we like are: https://www.amazon.com/linnalove-Allergy-Cartoon-Dinosaur-Bracelet/dp/B07MFV7YB1/ref=sr_1_32?crid=2GVZ237CMY0J8&keywords=Medical%2Bid%2Bbracelet%2Bkid&qid=1692201807&sprefix=medical%2Bid%2Bbracelet%2Bkid%2Caps%2C322&sr=8-32&th=1

Snacks and Meals:

- Pack a variety of your child's favorite snacks to keep them engaged and satisfied.

- Choose portable, non-messy options like granola bars, fruit pouches, crackers, and pre-cut fruits or vegetables.

- Keep in mind any dietary restrictions or allergies your child may have, as well as any restrictions your airline may have for your specific flight.


Entertainment and Games:

- Pack a selection of entertainment options, such as coloring books, puzzles, or handheld electronic devices with favorite apps or videos.

- Engage in interactive games like "I Spy" or travel-themed scavenger hunts to make the journey enjoyable.

- Bring a tablet or electronic device loaded with sensory-friendly apps or calming videos. Wireless headphones so that your children can listen to their devices without disturbing each other or other passengers are a must. A a favorite amongst my children are the iClever headphones, as they are lightweight, cushioned,come in a variety of colors and are very comfortable for little ears. They also allow for parental control of the volume settings. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XHKWDJM?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_230B0QJ3NJ1F3B2J9TJ2


Communication and Comfort:

- Prepare a communication card with key phrases or pictures to help your child express their needs and feelings.

- Bring noise-canceling earmuffs or a weighted blanket or vest for added comfort during stressful moments. Here is a weighted blanket that‘s perfect for children: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S369QSV?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_1H4YXGWHWA3EX0G9A4HW


Traveling by Airplane:

- Notify the airline in advance about your child's special needs to arrange for any necessary accommodations.

- Consider requesting pre-boarding to minimize waiting time and stress.

- Utilize the airport's designated family and special needs facilities.

- Register with the TSA Cares program so that you may expedite the security process and receive accommodations at the airport. you can sign up for TSA Cares here: https://www.tsa.gov/contact-center/form/cares

- Consider wearing sunflowers As they are a universal identifier for disabilities, and airport staff knows to accommodate those with them. Here is a link to a sunflower travel lanyard: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C6QL5CBQ?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_1NRRBVNAAQCSXXGM0N38


Staying Patient and Flexible:

- Understand that unexpected situations may arise, and maintaining a calm and patient attitude can greatly benefit your child's experience.

- Be prepared to take breaks and provide downtime when needed.


Traveling with children with supportive needs requires careful planning and consideration, but it can lead to wonderful memories and new experiences for the entire family. By preparing your child, packing thoughtfully, and focusing on their comfort and communication needs, you can create a positive and enjoyable travel experience that your child will cherish for years to come. Remember to stay patient, flexible, and open to adapting your plans as needed. Safe travels!



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