Tips For Traveling With Your Special Needs Child
Tips for Traveling with your Special Needs Child
Traveling with a child with special needs can often be a less than pleasurable experience for the entire
family. It’s difficult to prepare the special needs child since they can’t always comprehend, many have
sensory/motion issues, or they are just plain fearful, which can be understandable. Sometimes it is
helpful to talk with other parents or caregivers with special needs children to find out what works for
The following are some tips to make travel easier for the special needs child and family/group:
1. Make sure the first flight is a very short flight, no more than 90 minutes.
2. Take your child on a short boat ride before going on a cruise and make sure the first
cruise is no more than 3 – 4 days long.
3. If your child has a favorite blanket/pillow, toy, stuffed animal, trinket, book, movie, etc.,
allow your child to travel with those items.
4. Talk with your child’s doctor; if he/she feels that medication will make the trip more
comfortable and more tolerable, have your child’s physician prescribe medication prior
to your trip.
5. Check in with the airline as early as possible to ensure that you and your family are
assigned seats together.
6. Ask for priority boarding, many disabilities such as autism are not always detectable, so
make sure you have a conversation with the airline/cruise line, etc. when you are not
rushed so you can explain your child’s issues.
7. Pack your child/teen’s favorite snacks, allow the comfort foods.
8. Take your time; rushing can be stressful on the caregivers as well as the child/teen.
9. Make sure your child has a full change of clothes in your carry luggage.
10. If your child has sensory issues or is sensitive to loud noises, consider using noise-
Traveling with a special needs child/teen can be difficult and not all experiences are pleasant. However,
don’t give up on your child because it gets better and it can be an enjoyable experience for the entire
family. Remember, just because a child is fearful of flying, does not mean he/she doesn’t want to travel.
Cruising with Autism, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people
with disabilities by providing enjoyable and sustainable travel experiences.
Meochia Clayton, a mother
of a teenage son living with autism is the founder of Cruising with Autism and serves as the Executive
Director. To learn more about Cruising with Autism, Inc., please visit www.cruisingwithautism.org.