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Travel Tips for Adults and Children with ASD

Travel can be overwhelming for many of us, but this can be especially true for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. This article will cover some of the key techniques to help make travel easier for parents who have children with ASD, and possibly even adults who are on the spectrum as well.

  • Plan

When you’re preparing to travel with Autism or with a loved one who has ASD, it is vital to plan ahead. A gratifying array of locations, parks, resorts, and cruises are prepared to cater to families with individuals with ASD.

If you are traveling for a fun vacation, such destinations can help make your travel less stressful, because they have staff that are well trained and understand the special needs of certain individuals. 

Of course, we do not always travel for reasons of leisure. It’s essential to understand that, whenever you travel with someone with ASD, last-minute plans carry the potential to create an upset. Individuals with ASD are more comfortable routines, which are calming and easier for them to process. 

Another facet that benefits from suitable planning when you travel is to identify the locations that feature excellent accessibility. Appropriate amenities may include quiet rooms for individuals when they become overstimulated.

It’s also worthwhile to make workers aware that you will require special accommodations. Unfortunately, not all individuals will be trained or ready to understand how your unique situation should be handled, but by making workers aware in advance, better outcomes are more likely. Workers who have been properly alerted tend to be more understanding and accommodating.

If you are traveling through an airport, it is recommended that you do a TSA precheck. You’ll have to apply for it ahead of time if you do not meet the eligibility requirements, but the TSA precheck will expedite your security process at the airport, and allow you to keep your shoes and belt on.

If you are traveling with children under the age of 12, you are already eligible for this expedited process. 

  • Practice

A key component for creating a successful travel day is practice! In order to avoid overstimulation and stress on what promises to be a highly stimulating and potentially stressful day, it’s important to practice ahead of time how a travel day might unfold and feel.

If your child is in ABA therapy, or has attended in the past, the ABCs of behavior will have been covered. It starts with the Antecedent, or target behavior; then proceeds to the Behavior of the individual; and results in the Consequence of the behavior.

You should employ this methodology as you practice for a travel day. Model different tasks that will have to be performed or undergone on the day of travel, allow your child to practice the behaviors expected, and make sure to positively reinforce good behavior.

A good way to help your youngster practice the behavior is by sharing stories about children traveling. Sometimes highlighting tales of misadventure and how the individual was able to solve problems on the day of travel can be beneficial.

If, on your day of travel, there are hiccups along the way, you will be ready to reference these stories and inform your child that he, she, or they can also be like that character. Practice taking big breaths or the use of other coping mechanisms that are modeled by the protagonist in a story, or that your child already implements in day-to-day routines.

This will help your son or daughter deal more effectively with an upsetting situation. By practicing ahead of time, it will be easier for the child’s body to recognize the situation.

Other ways you and your little one can practice for your day of travel is by watching an informative or step-by-step video of what to expect during that process, and what it will look like. This empowers your child to visualize the process, and should make travel day less stressful.

  • Prepare

On your day of travel, assuming you have planned and practiced, don’t forget to prepare familiar snacks, distractions, sensory kits, sound-canceling headphones, and comfort toys. These familiar items will help you to overcome obstacles you are apt to encounter throughout the day.

In addition, it’s worthwhile to carry a printed schedule that helps you or your child with ASD to grasp the itinerary and timetable for the day. Other essentials to remember are your travel documents, ID, and any necessary medical paperwork that should all be in an readily accessible location.

This preparation will prepare individuals and families with ASD for smooth travel.


Traveling is stressful enough. The stress can be compounded when you or a loved one who has ASD is also on the journey. If you implement the three vital tips above into your daily routine as you prepare to travel, you will reduce the stress, and make the effort more manageable.