Travelling Abroad with Special Needs

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

As my own family prepares for our summer vacation, we are just as delighted as others to escape for a while, and to have a change of scenery.

We anxiously await precious time away together to relax and to make wonderful memories.  Planning a trip requires strict attention to detail for us.

With two children with special needs, it is not as simple as throwing some clothes in the car and whisking ourselves away.

Meticulous coordination and arrangement goes into even a simple day trip for us. As we are planning a trip overseas, internet searches are imperative for us to figure out…..

How are we gonna do this?

While many parents are searching for “Best places to eat”, we are searching for “Best ways to store pureed meals.”

Instead of looking for “Popular attractions”, we are looking for the answer to “Can I carry CBD oil on an airplane?”

“What items can I take in my carry-on luggage?” is replaced by “Do I need prescriptions for all the seizure and anxiety meds in my bag?”

We’ve appropriately worked out the time difference and the necessary timing of the seizure medication of one child and anxiety meds and CBD oil dosing for the other… least we think we have!

Instead of wondering how many sites we’ll be able to see during our visit, we wonder if we’ll be able to cram our daughter’s orthotic equipment into our suitcase.

In place of “How to occupy children on an airplane”, I am driving myself nuts searching “Weight and length capacity of baby changing stations on airplanes.”

In the two years since we’ve flown, our daughter has grown quite a bit and she was nearly too big for the restroom changing station back then.  Sigh….

There is so much to think about when planning to travel as a family. It can become quite overwhelming when your children have special needs.

You want to ensure they are comfortable, safe, healthy and happy.

Luckily, in my frantic searching, I have stumbled across helpful sites designed for parents like us. TSA Cares is a site that offers helpful assistance for disabled passengers. Also, The Center for Children with Special Needs (website not accessible outside US) provides a list of travel resources for families flying with disabled children.

This reinforces the fact that we’re not the only family with these worries and questions. We CAN do this!

As daunting as the task of flying abroad with our children is, it is also a great blessing.

The opportunity for them to see the world is such a privilege and we have incredible people in our lives helping to make it a reality.

They would love to see the world. They want to be out in the world, actively participating, exploring and learning.

Yes, it will take extra careful planning for us to take on this adventure, and some extra deep breaths, but the beauty they will see and lifetime of memories we will create will make it all worthwhile.

It is possible, and I’m thankful the internet has given me some peace of mind as our vacation approaches.


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