Planning your time when travelling with children with additional needs

When you’re travelling with children with additional needs, it’s always good to plan for things to take longer than you expect. If you give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going and get organised when you get there, it can reduce stress for everyone, and help keep your child calm and happy.

Preparing your child with additional needs for family travel

Some children with additional needs can find travelling scary and unfamiliar, but there are things you can do to prepare your child.

For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can help to explain what your child might expect when travelling. For example, if you’re flying, talk to your child about the security screening process so that he knows what’s going to happen before he gets there.

You can also use Social Stories™ to teach your child about appropriate social behaviour and help her know what to expect.

Medication and family travel with children with additional needs

If your child with additional needs takes medication, and you’re travelling for a long time, make sure you’ve packed enough to last the whole trip.

It’s also a good idea to travel with spare medication. Doctors often recommend taking twice the amount your child needs in case of unexpected events – for example, if your child gets sick during the trip, or if you lose or damage the medication while travelling.

You should split medications between your hand luggage and suitcases in case one piece of luggage goes missing.

If you’re travelling outside Australia, you should carry a copy of your prescription and a note from your prescribing doctor. This is in case you’re questioned by customs. It’s also a good idea to check the laws in the countries you’re travelling to. Some countries have restrictions on the medications you can bring in.

Special equipment and plane travel

If your child with additional needs uses special equipment – like a wheelchair – talk to your airline or travel agent before you travel. They might need to make special arrangements or organise extra help.

Check with the airline before you fly to see whether there are any restrictions on taking medical equipment on board.

Special meals and plane travel

If you’re flying and your child has special dietary needs, you can contact the airline to organise a suitable meal. It might also be a good idea to bring your own food in case the airline can’t provide the food your child needs.

Always let the airline know you have a child with additional needs. That can avoid waiting in lines and misunderstandings with staff.
– Mum of a five-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)