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A simple guide for holidays and autism

Wanting to go away on holiday with your loved one who has autism? Here’s a guide for you. Whether you’re staying in this country or travelling abroad, there is a lot of prep work you can do to help both you and your loved one have a good time away. 

Location

There might be some specific places you or your loved one have in mind. It’s a good idea to check whether your desired destination has facilities to cater for you both, this could be sensory needs or requirement to get a quieter room at the accommodation. This information can be found out either on their website, checking with a travel agent or by calling them directly. 

The Autism Society’s Autism Services Directory can help you search venues both in the UK and abroad that are suitable for autisitic people.

Preparing for your holiday

Autistic people can find a change in their daily routine to be difficult to cope with. If possible, involve this person in the planning of the holiday and ask them if there’s anywhere or anything they specifically want to do. Once you’ve booked the trip, you can talk to the person about the holiday and what is going to happen, this will prepare them for the change.

Here’s some things The Autism Society have listed which can help prepare your loved one for the holiday [i]:

  • Spend time with them looking at photographs online, in a brochure or on the holiday company’s website. 
  • Compile a visual guide such as a booklet with photos, to help them remember where they are going and what it will look like when they get there. 
  • Prepare a timetable in advance, taking into consideration any intense interests,  repetitive behaviour or routines your person has. 
  • Think about what situations they may need to understand (such as delays or unavoidable changes to travel plans) and how you can use  social stories to help them prepare. You may find it easier to use a social story creator. 
  • If you are travelling with a younger child, try to address any worries they may have by reading a relaxation book together.

Getting support at the airport

Travelling abroad and going through the busy check-ins can be a stressful time for everyone and can also trigger your loved one. Speak with the airport staff either prior to arriving at the airport or before check-in to see if there is a quieter area you can wait or if you can check-in earlier. 

Make sure that anything which helps ease the autistic person is brought with you on the flight. This could be some headphones or comforter which helps reassure them while you’re both travelling. 

Travelling by train or boat

Once again, bringing something to calm them while you’re travelling will help both of you have a better journey, whether that’s headphones, a tablet, their favourite music, or a comforter. 

It’s always worth contacting the train station or ferry port prior to your arrival to see what specialist assistance they provide for autisitc people. 

Places to go for support when holidaying

Disabledholidays.com offers support for you and your loved one when going on holiday. You can check their website for guidance on what to do when going on your holidays as well as suggestions of places to visit. 

Things to do with someone who has autism

For more information about activities you can do with your loved one, especially over the summer, read our blog on summer activities for someone with autism.

summer activities to do with someone who has autism