‘Tis the season to be jolly but that can be a tall order when you’re dealing with holiday travel. Airports are crowded, security lines long, traffic is snarled. We’ve all been there.

Parents traveling with family members who have a disability must often make special accommodations. Preparation and knowledge are the keys to decreasing stress and beat your "bah humbug."

A family traveling in a car to see friends and family for the holidays.

If you're traveling by plane:

  • Check out the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website and telephone hotline to find out more about the TSA Cares program. It connects passengers with a representative who can answer questions about preparing for the security screening and flight. The TSA recommends that you call the hotline (1-855-787-2277) 72 hours ahead of travel so it can coordinate support.
  • Did you know there's a special security line at airports to assist people who have disabilities. Using this line can make security clearance go more smoothly. Ask an airport or security worker where to find this security line.
  • Children who have a disability can leave their shoes on when going through security.
  • You’re allowed to bring more than the allotted carry-on fluid if it’s clearly labeled as a liquid medication for your child.
  • It’s a good idea to bring a doctor’s note to explain your child’s health issues.

If you’re traveling by car:

  • Make extra stops along your journey. Stretching and getting something to eat or drink can help elevate the entire family's mood. Kids with low muscle tone might have to use the bathroom more frequently and are more likely to experience car sickness.
  • Plan your seating arrangement to make sure everyone is comfortable.
  • Bring music, books on CD, games or other distractions to make the time pass.
  • Call hotels ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate your family.
  • Make a list of needed medications, equipment and comfort items.

If your family will be spending time with friends or relatives who don't often interact with your child, consider a letter or email to suggest ways they can interact with him or her—quiet play, reading or singing. It’s helpful to tell your hosts about dietary needs and the medical equipment you might bring.

Taking a few simple steps to prepare for a holiday travel adventure can help make the season merry and bright.

You Might Also Like

Read more stories of Gillette patients, families and team members who inspire and inform.

Show Results