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Holiday tips

These tips come from our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisers.

Travelling through airports with a sensory impairment

Quite a useful blog about using airports for people who have sensory impairments.

Family rooms

Our youngsters soon turn in to adults. I found out Travelodge, Premier Inn and Jury Inn allow 3 adults to share a family room. Ideal if you need to supervise the person you are caring for. Great for cheap short breaks.

Tourism For All provides useful information on accessible holidays and places to go in the UK and abroad for disabled people, their carers and family.

Leisure time planner

We have a leisure time planner for our eldest so that he can do things in one-hour rotations otherwise he would spend all day doing exactly the same thing during the holidays.

Disability Holidays Guide

The Disability Holidays Guide lists specialist tour operators for wheelchair users. You can search the guide for accessible hotels, villas and cottages, and you can also find travel insurance, hire accessible transport and order mobility aids and equipment.

Plan ahead

Find out as much as you can about your holiday destination in advance – where the loos are, what the food is like, is it free from flickering lighting and echoing (some restaurants can be really loud and scary). Know where a quiet zone is. Know where a quiet zone is. Know where the big noise/light/smell hazards are, such as fairgrounds.

Holiday routine

Without the routine of school, my son acts up, so holidays can be hell. I now prepare a holiday routine for him. Even just a basic structure helps, like: 'wash, get dressed, breakfast, park or some other activity, lunch, play or video, dinner, bathtime, bed with story or DVD'.

Airport guide

Parkat has produced a guide to relieve some of the stress and worry of air travel for disabled people.

Phone ahead for assistance

If you are travelling with someone who has special needs, phone ahead and ask for assistance. We travelled by Eurostar and phoning ahead was a Godsend. We had an allocated member of staff who took us into a quiet room before the train was announced and escorted us to the platform. At the other end we were greeted by staff who escorted us to the front and helped us through.

How many sleeps

When we go away, our son's biggest stress is being taken away from his home comforts, so we take a Velcro strip displaying how many sleeps we will be away and when we are going home.

The fear of the unknown

When you are planning a trip, try and take away the fear of the unknown by using symbols, books, even photos of every stage of the journey. Prepare as much as possible in advance by showing the photos, symbols every day, take away the unpredictability which is a big part of the fear.

No surprises

Every time we go to a new holiday destination my son is adamantly against it. We have to get him excited about a new place. Show him what they have there, why he is going to like it and prepare him for the adventure. We involve him in the research and planning, and most importantly, don't surprise him.

Mobile mattress protector

Whenever we travel, car mats are a great help. Just put one under a sheet and even if your child wets the bed, it won't go through to the mattress.

Cot sides

We always ask hotels for kids' cot sides, to slide under one side of the bed to keep our son safe. Many hotels stock these for young children, but if not, we put a large chair along the side of the bed to stop him falling out.

iPad travel essential

For me, an iPad is a travel essential. I can upload free apps – from piano, guitar, to sensory, books and interactive animation, colouring apps, jigsaws and lots of photos and visuals to build social stories on the go. Proloqu2go loaded with new words associated with the travel... and when my son gets overloaded there is music and headphones to calm him down.

Getting lost

If you are travelling to Disneyland or a big theme park, and are worried about losing the person you are caring for, when you get there take them to the guest services and introduce them. Also write your contact details on a piece of paper and put in their pocket.

Travelling with medication

Travelling by plane with medication: always pack half in your hand luggage in case your suitcase does walkabouts. That way, you will have enough with you till your case is relocated or you get some more locally.

Holiday/travel insurance

We managed to find who seemed to be very helpful for families with complex needs. Other friends have recommended All Clear and FISH insurance. Remember to tell them everything, even the more minor aspects you may not think are important.

V-shaped pillow

We use a V-shaped pillow – the kind mothers used to breastfeed – to help support Milly in plane seats. We simply turn it upside down, sit her on the open v and the sides cradle her.

Passport photos

If struggling to get a passport photo of the person you are caring for, contact the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000. Generally the photo together with proof of diagnosis and GP letter outlining why the person cannot meet the standard passport photo requirements (for example, unable to close mouth or look directly) should suffice.

Holiday childcare

If holidaying in the UK, it's worth ringing the local Family Information Service for a list of suitable childminders and holiday clubs for special needs children. I've found it possible to holiday in most parts of the UK and find childcare.

Camping success

Slippery sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses don't mix for my son who has cerebral palsy. We got a good quality double mattress and sewed 12 to 14 big sturdy eyelets around the edges of a fitted sheet. Then we attached a single duvet cover onto the top of the sheet, sewing down either side leaving enough room for getting in and out/ comfort. Put duvet in first then fit sheet onto mattress using webbing through the eyelets tied underneath. Works like a dream!

Go for picnics

Eating out on holidays can be quite difficult for us. Instead we have lots of picnics. Lovely countryside and weather helps! Picnics are easier to manage and therefore more relaxing. What a holiday should be about.


Tryb4ufly is a charitable service that offers disabled children and adults an opportunity to trial specially designed aircraft seating support to see which one works best for them. They stock a range of supportive devices and equipment, such as the AirChair, Burnett Body Support and Crelling Harness. Try before you fly!

Long flights

When I go to Orlando it is 10 long hours with my son who has cerebral palsy, severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and behaviour problems. I take 11 small wrapped presents. Every hour he gets to open one like pens, a book, a new game, sweets… Time soon goes by.


We bought a timeshare in the grounds of a hotel in Scotland. We chose a week outside school holidays so my son does not get anxious about having to socialise with other kids. He has a brilliant relaxing time, as it’s the same house the same week each year which suits him down to the ground being autistic.

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