Planes, Trains, or Automobiles—Our Summer Travel Tips

Summer is here, and travel adventures are a great way for families to spend quality time together after a busy school year.  Traveling can be stressful for our kids with special needs (and for the rest of us too!)

We’ve polled our team for their favorite summer travel tips and have compiled them here. If you have a great one of your own, email it to us at [email protected], and we will include it in our social media posts.

Summer Travel Tips

  1.  Be realistic about your bucket lists. Consider prioritizing your wish list of activities or letting each child choose one activity they really want to do. Prep you kids about the realities of time, budget, and everyone’s energy levels to avoid arguments or meltdowns when the list has to be cut short.
  2. Plan travel “goody bags” including social stories, toys, devices, fidgets, or comfort items. Make a game out of bringing these out when needed, or surprising kids with new items. Bring plenty!
  3. If flying, reach out to TSA Cares two weeks prior to your travel; they can meet you curbside and escort you to your gate (no lines and streamlined TSA checkpoints!). They also provide cart service so that you can more easily reach accessible bathrooms and other areas farther from your gate.
  4. Keep the daily routine as much as possible. This may require research beforehand but is worth it! If you must vary the routine, consider a written schedule to maintain predictability and frontloading.
  5.  Lodging – be strategic when choosing location, proximity to grocery and pharmacy, adjoining rooms, and amenities (like a pool) and call ahead to confirm availability. There’s nothing like construction or unanticipated closings to get your trip off track quickly!
  6. Plan medication refills, location of pharmacies, and bring emergency physician phone numbers.
  7. If elopement is a reality, and you anticipate large crowds, consider a tracker such as Angel Sense for additional safety and peace of mind.

There are several popular vacation destinations that provide support for individuals with disabilities. We have had experience with the following passes and highly recommend the following:

  1. Universal Studios IBCCES Individual Accessibility Card. Universal Orlando has an Attractions Assistance Pass for Guests who have difficulty with extended waits in lines. Guests requesting an accommodation must obtain the IBCCES Individual Accessibility Card by registering within 30 days of their visit to the park.
  2. Walt Disney World Disability Access Service. This service supports individuals who, due to a developmental disability, are unable to wait in a conventional line for an extended period of time.
  3. National Park Service. The Interagency Access Pass is part of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass series and is available free for individuals with permanent disabilities.

Safe travels everyone! — KDS

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