Travelling with kids who have autism



Travelling with children who have autism can be challenging, but with the right preparation it’s certainly possible!

Take a look at some of our top travel tip suggestions below and don’t forget to always seek advice from your doctor and to let your chosen holiday company know of your situation before you go.


Choose a location that suits your child

When choosing a destination think about what kinds of activities your child enjoys and what helps to keep them calm. For example, if your child copes better in quiet natural surroundings then think about choosing a rural cottage or if you know your child thrives in busier environments with lots of activities to entertain, choose a resort destination.

Including your child in your holiday planning can also help; let them make decisions about what they’d like to see or what they’d like to do to help give them some control. It’s also worth selecting excursions that you know will compliment your child’s attention span and sensory processing capabilities to help them feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.


Prepare by building a familiar feel to your trip

Changing situations can often overwhelm children with autism, so it’s important to start creating a familiar and stable atmosphere that surrounds your holiday before you’ve even left.

Try some role playing techniques, so your child can understand what to expect during the holiday. If you’ll be going on a beach holiday begin to take regular trips to your local beach for example. Visual support can also be important, so use photos to introduce your child to things they might see or do on holiday. You could even build these into a schedule, so your child can have a chance to witness what they’ll be doing without becoming overwhelmed.


Prepare appropriately

Try to plan as much as you can in advance of your holiday as last minute decisions in unfamiliar surroundings can be really upsetting for an autistic child. Try to minimise anxiety attacks by thinking about what might trigger them and how you can avoid this, plus take breaks and time out as often as you need.

When you’re at the airport consider whether it would be best for your child to board earlier than everyone else and get settled or wait until the last call so they have time to run about until the very last moment- every child is different so do what’s right for your family.

The airport can be tricky with an autistic child, particularly the queues at security. Make sure to alert airport staff and your chosen holiday company of your family’s situation well in advance, so they can really accommodate for your child and help things run as smoothly as possible.

Pack wisely

Pack items that will help to soothe your child, such as noise-cancelling headphones, a blanket or sunglasses, to help them cope with new environments and senses. Bring plenty of familiar and comforting items from home, such as snacks, toys and films. Ask your child what they’d like to bring, to help them feel in control.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your child has a medical bracelet/tag with your contact information attached to clothing somewhere just in case you get separated from them- as with holidays with all children, you will need to be vigilant and make sure your child is safe in busy or new surroundings.

If needed, you can also get translation cards that explain that your child has autism from the link at the bottom of the article.


Always do what is right for your child

There are many different kinds of autism which affect children in different ways- your child is entirely unique and what may help them cope with their autism may not help another with the same condition. Always choose to do what best suits your child and don’t worry about anybody else.


Don’t be afraid to travel

Travelling with children that have autism is really important- all children gain so much from travelling experiences and a break from everyday routines can be refreshing and enjoyable! Travelling with your child teaches them much more about the world and can help them to feel comfortable in range of alternative environments- it can also help others to gain a clearer understanding and appreciation of those with autism.

With the right preparation and planning, a holiday with a child who has autism can be enjoyable and relaxing so don’t be afraid to ask for help and to get out there!

For more tips, click on the following link:


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Wendy Shand
Wendy Shand

Wendy Shand is the founding director of Tots To Travel, mum of three, award winning mumpreneur, traveler, business enthusiast and author of ‘The Mother of Invention’.

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