Preparation can take the stress out of summer travel with kids who have special needs.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer travel season.  AAA projects about 39 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over this Memorial Day weekend and that can lead to travel headaches. Airports are crowded, security lines long, traffic is snarled. We’ve all been there.

Parents traveling with family members who have a disability may have extra issues and concerns. Summer often means traveling to see friends and relatives. Preparation and knowledge are the keys to decreasing stress and having fun in the sun.

Traveling by Airplane

  • Check out the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) website and telephone hotline to find out more about the TSA Cares program. It connects passengers with a TSA representative who can answer questions about preparing for the security screening and the flight. The TSA recommends that you call the hotline about 72 hours ahead of travel so TSA Cares can coordinate support for passengers. The toll-free hotline is 1-855-787-2277.
  • There’s a special security line at airports to assist people who have disabilities. Using this line can make security clearance less of a hassle.
  • 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.

Traveling by Car

If you’re traveling by car you can make your trip more enjoyable by following a few tips.

  • Plan to make extra stops along your journey. Stretching and getting something to eat or drink can help elevate the mood. Kids with low muscle tone might have to use the bathroom more frequently and are more likely to develop car sickness. Be prepared.
  • Plan your seating arrangement to make sure everyone is comfortable.
  • Bring some good 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.
  • Don’t forget to pack medications, equipment and comfort items.

Consider sending a letter to family and friends to let them know about your child’s needs and suggest ways people can interact with your child—quiet play, reading or singing. It’s also helpful to tell your hosts about your child’s dietary needs and the medical equipment you might bring.

Taking a moment to prepare for a summer travel adventure can help make the season memorable—for the right reasons.  

You Might Also Like

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

Show Results