TravelPlanOverwhelmed, intimidated, discouraged – is this how you feel when plan your vacation with your special needs child? You can feel much more confident, though, as airlines, hotels and destinations recognize the importance of accessibility for people with all types of disabilities.

As the mother of a teen with special needs and a person with multiple chronic illnesses, I have learned to “expect the best, prepare for the worst” when planning vacations.

Vacation Planning Tips for Special Needs Kids

  1. Choose a destination that meets the needs of your child and your family. Yes, they must be accessible, provide medical and other types of assistance, but keep in mind your child’s interests.
  2. Decide on the type of transportation. If getting there quickly is your desire, air travel is extremely accessible. Contact the airline about your child’s specific needs. Road trips offer more time to stop and see the unexpected. Many types of safety equipment and comfort items are available.
  3. Purchase travel insurance. No one wants their vacation ruined by illness or accident, but families with special needs children need to be covered for pre-existing conditions too. Check to see if this is the case and get it in writing. No matter what type of trip, or the amount of money you spend, travel insurance is a must.
  4. Contact all travel providers in writing. Before you leave, email the hotel, airline, destination, etc. with a list of your requirements for your child. Ask for confirmation email for records.
  5. Make a packing list. Keep track of the clothing, medications, toys, snacks, travel gadgets, etc. that are needed for your trip. Check off each item as you pack it so nothing is forgotten.

While on vacation with your special needs child, take it easy on yourself. Things may not go as planned, but relax and enjoy.