Travel is supposed to let you get away from it all. But it doesn't always feel that way for families traveling with children with special needs. Despite passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act more than 30 years ago, hotels, transportation modes, and destinations can still pose challenges. Fortunately, there are resources available to help families plan their trips and minimize the risk of a vacation riddled with frustration and disappointment.
Does it have to be uncomfortable to travel? asks The Rolling Rains Report, an online newsletter that highlights and promotes initiatives to make life easier for travelers with disabilities and their families. The answer is an emphatic “no.” Published by Dr. Scott Rains, who is paralyzed from the waist down, the newsletter discusses strategies for trip planning, the many ways that principles of universal design can enhance travel and hospitality, and a host of other issues arising with travel at home and abroad. The Report also includes a long list of external links with useful information.
There are numerous other resources for families planning to hit the road that provide general and specific information—just do a Google search on “travelling with children with special needs” To find many resources offering tips and checklists. Planning Trips for Children with Autism, published by Simmons University, explores a variety of potential challenges—dealing with unfamiliar environments, wait times, and sensory impacts, to name just three—and offers many helpful links. Those traveling by air might want to consult this checklist published by Seattle's Center for Children with Special Needs. Thepointsguy.com, a site dedicated to travel in general, includes a section dedicated to sharing experiences by travelers with children with special needs.
To sum up, however far you plan to go, whatever you want to do, someone has been there, done that, and is available to help you.