Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday Travel Tips for Families with Disabilities

Holiday travel tips are necessary, especially if you are traveling with a disabled family member. Whether you are traveling by plane, train, automobile or even ship, implement special strategies beforehand so that the trips runs as smoothly as possible. Keep in mind that suprises always occur during travel, no matter how well defined your preparation. However, if you keep an open, relaxed mind throughout the process, you'll sail through the trip like a champ.

1. Plan Ahead

Eighty percent of your travel success depends on how well you plan beforehand. If you plan to fly or travel by train, call the carrier ahead of time, explain your situation, and ask the representative how you can accommodate your family member and eliminate disruptions to other passengers. Ask the representative to identify bathroom and wheelchair accessible facilities along with suggestions on where you can go with your family member should they become uncomfortable or uneasy.

Additionally, contact the hotel and request a wheelchair accessible room or one that permits for easy entrance and exit. For example, if your family member is autistic, they may not feel comfortable on elevators or having to make a long trip to the room. Get in touch with attractions such as museums, theme parks or theatres to ensure your family member has special accomodations when you arrive.

2. Stick to routines

One of the most important steps that you can take to keep your disabled family member comfortable is to stick to their routine before the trip. Those who have disabilities thrive on routine because it is one area of their day that they know will always be the same.

Also, try to add pieces of your family member's daily routine into the holiday trip as often as possible. If your disabled family member always takes a nap between 2:00pm and 4:00pm, forgo sightseeing between those times ad return to the hotel for nap time. Pack favourite foods and familar items from home to make your family member feel comfortable and more at ease with unfamiliar surroundings.

3. Dress appropriately

Arm your disabled family member with an identification tag that includes vital information as it pertains to their disability as well as contact information such are your cell phone number. In the unlikely event that you become seperated from your loved one, you will at least have a way to find him/her easier then without identification especially if a communication issue is part of the disability.

Additionally, pack comfortable, familiar clothing for your family member. Select outfits and pieces that you know they enjoy wearing and avoid introducing new items during the trip.

4. Have a back-up plan

If the perfectly planned day doesn't go as hoped, have a back-up plan so all isn't lost. For example, if you plan to visit a museum that doesn't turn out to be wheelchair accessible (even though you were given information that it was), have *plan B* ready for execution. You could instead hit a local park or the zoo that day instead of the museum. Identify attractions that are within close proximity to your original destination so you don't lose time traveling from one part of the city or area to the other.

When staying at a hotel, consult with your concierge to identify alternative attractions. Your hotel concierge is an excellent resource for helping guests find appropriate activities and entertainment in the area.

Overall, allow yourself time to let go and accept that some days during your holiday trip may not go as planned. Keep in mind that the reason you took the trip was to be together as a family and to appreciate one another during this wonderous time of the year.

Source: Gina Ragusa, a freelance writer and mother from South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlours. Read more about her adventures at Thanks to Disability Information Services (DIS) for this information. December 2014