Taking our Show on the Road… travelling with a child with Special Needs

Now that the summer is upon us, so is Family Vacation Time!
When you have a child with special needs or medical needs the task becomes overwhelming…but it can be done!
When we are at home, we have a place for everything so when we travel, I do my best to recreate our “norm” in a different city. 
Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way…
  • Makes lists! Keeping organized is the key to packing for any vacation and it is crucial when organizing to take your special child on a trip away from the comforts of home.
  • I prefer to travel by car to allow us to take EVERYTHING we need without having to explain it to security or airport personnel. If you are travelling by plane, most airlines have a phone number to call to help make accommodations for all children and adults with special needs.
  • Find a suite or hotel with a kitchenette or fridge for medicines or other special foods. These are often more difficult to find and slightly more expensive.
  • Research baby and child equipment rentals near your vacation spot. Highchairs, cribs, and strollers can all be rented for a reasonable fee and allow you to save room in the car for other items you need to pack.  Hotels often have playpens and highchairs to loan as well.
  • Knowing where local healthcare facilities and hospitals can give you peace of mind in an unfamiliar city.  Bring documents to make this easier; health history, contacts, list of current meds, etc.
  • Setting up your equipment and supplies “just like home” means packing more stuff but keeps the routines the same.
  • Take extra supplies that you can’t buy everywhere.  We keep an emergency kit of tubes, syringes and sterile water in the fridge in case the ones I packed get lost or damaged. 
  • Call ahead to be sure that sightseeing activities that you have planned are either stroller or wheelchair accessible.  Many attractions will accommodate children with special needs by allowing food to be brought in, provide refrigeration for medicines or formula and allow special seating for shows.
  • Pack familiar items and toys for your child.  Take their favorite toys so that familiar things can take the stress and worry away in a strange environment.
  • Make car rides fun with portable DVD players, lots of new toys and music for family sing- alongs and plan to make some stops along the way- a change of scenery can help any child make it through the long car ride.
  • Be creative when finding ways to do your normal routine on the road- we hung my son’s gtube feed with an upside-down hanger on the side of the playpen!  Worked like a charm!

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Trying to stay as organized as at home and keeping our routine the same for Zack makes all the difference so that we can really focus on the best part of any trip; fun activities, sightseeing, creating memories and exploring a new place as a family. 
Happy Travels!

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