Traveling at any time of the year is stressful. But the holidays can present extra challenges for people who travel with someone with special needs, especially when it comes to navigating excessive crowds, full flights, long lines, travel delays, staffing shortages, and overbooked hotels.
If you are traveling this year with a loved one who has special needs or a disability that requires extra assistance or care, the following tips can help make your life easier while you are away from home:
- Choose your airports carefully. Airports have taken great strides to accommodate adults and children with special needs by adding sensory-friendly playrooms, quiet rooms, mobility assistance and more. But these services and accommodations are not guaranteed at every airport, especially in smaller and regional airports that have limited flights each day. If you know that part of your trip will require significant time in an airport (perhaps for a layover), it’s best to choose one where your loved one will be most comfortable—even if it means a slightly longer commute to get there.
- Plan ahead if you require wheelchair accessible bathrooms. In general, the only planes that have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms are those with double aisles. Always double check with the airline when booking a flight to ensure that your needs will be accommodated.
- Keep any medication in a carry-on bag. That way, if your luggage gets lost, you or your loved one will still have access to any necessary medications or treatments.
- Pack food if your loved one is a picky eater. Whether you are traveling by plane, train or even car and taking breaks at rest stops, food on the road away from home can be limited. If your loved one is particular about what he or she eats, make sure that you have “back up options” in your bag … just in case.
- Research accessible transportation options ahead of time. You don’t want to arrive in a new city and realize that you don’t have a fast and easy way to transport a loved one to your hotel or next destination. Be sure to research in advance car rental options, accessible taxis or accessible ride-sharing services through companies like Uber or Lyft. This is especially important when traveling internationally, as options may be more limited than here in the states.
- Breathe. Everyone has a travel story nightmare, and if something goes wrong on your trip, you aren’t alone! So, take a deep breath and resolve to enjoy the time with your loved ones. That’s what matters most.
From all of us here at the Law Office of Sheri R. Abrams, we hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about legal planning for a loved one with special needs as we head into the New Year.