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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Blog

Tips for traveling with children with autism

Thursday, June 27, 2019
By:  DBP team

As summer vacation begins, families will be planning their vacation destinations. Keeping your children safe and occupied during travel and vacation becomes a priority.  

The Director of Care Coordination at Marcus Autism Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Cheryl Rhodes, has several suggestions about traveling with children with autism and provides some tips to make the parents’ and children’s experiences much more enjoyable.

Some of those things include:

  • Talking your child through the steps. This can help them understand what is going to happen. One parent suggests packing everything her child might need during travel and let their child pick out snacks, toys, and activities they love – anything that can make their experience more comfortable. 
  • Another helpful tip is to travel according to your child’s schedule. If you are flying, try to plan the flight around your child’s nap time or pick a seat that will accommodate if they want to kick/stretch or move around. If you are driving, make sure to incorporate many breaks for your child to stretch his/her legs and toys and rewards when they are well-behaved.
  • Creating a social story for your child about the trip starting with going through airport security etc.. if you are traveling this way. Also, some airports have sensory rooms or child rooms to unwind.
  • For children who are going on their first plane ride, certain airlines (i.e. JetBlue) offer tours of their planes. Parents are also encouraged to take their children to the airport prior to their flight and get them acclimated to the possible sensory overload. 

Here is the link to the Marcus Autism Center’s website for more detailed travel tips: