Travel: Making Christmas Easier for the Guest with Special Needs

Really want to make Christmas easier for the guest with special needs? Consider the issues surrounding travel. Part 4 of a 5-day series.

Photo Credit: David Niblack,

Travel: Making Christmas Easier for the Guest with Special Needs

Welcome to Day 4 of the series “Making Christmas Easier for the Guest with Special Needs”! If you missed the discussion about the schedule and planned activities yesterday, you can find it here.

Today we’re talking about travel. Many, many people travel for Christmas, but when a family member has special needs, travel can be complicated. Here are some issues to consider:

What’s best for everyone involved? Is the guest with special needs able to travel? Is it in his best interests to travel, or would he be better served by staying home and having everyone come to him? The answers to these questions may change from year to year. You may have to alternate locations or settle on one, depending on the health status of various family members.

It may not work out this year. No one wants to think about not being able to see family members at Christmas, but when multiple family members have special needs, there may be years when no one is able to travel.

If traveling is okay, have necessary arrangements been made? Be sure that all necessary precautions have been taken so that the person with special needs can travel safely and stay as healthy as possible. (See the quote below for some of the many issues families have to consider when traveling with someone who is medically complicated.)

Is traveling too unsettling? Even if someone is in good health, traveling may not be a good option for some people. Children on the autism spectrum or adults with social anxiety disorders may find holiday travel too overwhelming or so far out of their routine that they can’t handle all the changes and overstimulation. In that case, family may need to travel to them. It will still be a change in routine and increase in stimulation, but at least they will be in familiar surroundings and can escape to their own rooms if the need arises.

Are critical resources available at that location? Is the necessary food and medical care available, or should family travel to a different family member’s house where the needed resources are nearby?

There are many factors to consider when a person with special needs travels for the holidays. This is yet another area where open communication laced with kindness and compassion will solve a lot of problems.

From a mom with a medically fragile child, because it bears repeating:

“Understand our logistics aren’t ‘just throw clothes in a bag and go.’ We have to plan out where is there a good hospital, can we get supplies from our DME at our destination if something happens (like a stolen bag with kiddo’s feeding pump in it), how much food do we have to bring/can we restock on safe foods? Do we have enough medication for the time we are traveling, can we get refills (some cannot be refilled out of state)?” – Meg Falciani, Adventures with Jude

Stop by tomorrow for the final day in the series: The Whole Gift Thing.

Want to read more Christmas series about a variety of topics? Check out the iHomeschool Network Christmas Hopscotch!


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