Top suggestions on how the travel industry can increase autistic travel

While it is generally considered a good idea, having a plan A and a plan B is imperative for any successful family vacation with an autistic child. Special need getaways involve systematic minute-by-minute detail planning, along with never ignoring the “what if?” factor.
As such, a family with autism’s  itinerary can take double or triple the time and effort to organize in comparison to one for a typical family. In turn this leads many families to fall into three categories: those too stressed at the mere thought of successfully tackling so many factors, those who have already had bad travel experiences due to inadequate planning, and those who travel unaware of the needed details and who in time will fall into the second category. Sadly, all categories lead to a common denominator; families soon avoid traveling altogether, especially after suffering an unpleasant experience.
 Since the key to solving this conundrum lies mainly in the travel industry ability to aid and encourage this growing segment of the traveling population: here a few suggestions that can be easily implemented.

States and Cities

Since
most states and towns have  websites to inform tourists of the area’s history, attractions, activities, and lodging opportunities adding a page for tips to help autistic families plan their vacation better should not a problem. This page should include basic information that the visitor bureau staff can easily assemble such as:Top suggestions on how the travel industry can increase autistic travel-restaurants that provide gluten-free or casein-free items on their menu
-attractions that provide sensory components such as hands-on museums, zoos, and aquariums

-hotels that provide autism-friendly rooms and/or babysitting services that can provide parents/caregivers with much-needed respite
-local pharmacies for quick medication refills
-local grocery stores or supermarkets with their operating hours—especially if they are open 24/7
-local pediatricians that have been trained to deal with special-needs children in case of emergency
- telephone numbers of local police personnel trained to assist with autistic children wandering off (if available)


Top suggestions on how the travel industry can increase autistic travel

Lodging – Hotels and Cruise ships

Lodging
facility websites should include an additional page with accommodation suggestions for autistic travelers. That page should document the property’s  quiet rooms away from streets, elevators, vending machines and lounges for the noise-sensitive guests as well as rooms far from any cooking venues for the smell-sensitive travelers.
Moreover, the page should describe the hotel or cruise line’s ability to accommodate patrons suffering from different allergies and elaborate on the possible existence of hand-held shower heads and/or extra locks on room windows and doors to prevent accidental wandering.
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Transportation 

Proper transportation arrangements are particularly important as they constitute the first step in most peoples’ travel and often foreshadow future mishaps. Airlines, bus companies, and train companies ought to provide an informative web page on all possible accommodations available for the different sensory issues of the autistic travelers.

Top suggestions on how the travel industry can increase autistic travel

They should include:The avoidance of airline seats in the wing area ( excessive noise ), galleys and lavatories areas (strong smells) as well as the exit door adjacent seating on trains, buses and ferry boats due to limited personal space and potential overcrowding. The options of pre-boarding and extra  legroom seating for those autistics with involuntary or repetitive body movements should be offered as a viable option by all transportation authorities.


Top suggestions on how the travel industry can increase autistic travel


Day trips and shore excursion operators

Companies
should post detailed descriptions of the offered itineraries on their page along with key symbols to alert autistic travelers to the possibility of potential sensory problems like excessive noise, strong smells, dark areas, strobe lights, slippery terrain and long stays in extreme weather. By following these two simple suggestions companies would not only help respective travelers choose more appropriate activities but encourage new ones to sample more day trips.

Comments

  1. This is the second time I’ve been to your site. Thanks for explaining more information.

  2. I think what your doing by providing information for families with autistic children is just so helpful and kind. Most people don’t realise how challenging it can be to raise a child with autism let alone travel so that he or she can have the same experiences as other children.

    • Thank you Nicolas!
      I totally agree with you on that.When we first started traveling my son’s behavior was mostly regarded as bratty and my requests for certain accomodations disregarded.However I do see a change in people’s level of understanding in the last year or so -which is extremely encouraging.

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