How the Electronic Ban will affect Traveling with Autism

Much as been said in the past few days about the new reveal electronic ban that the UK and US have put into effect.
Since its reveal on  March 20th, 2017, many have spoken for and mostly against the new regulations. It even has a trending Twitter hashtag at #electronicban!
For the few people who have still not heard about the ban, here are the highlights and how it will affect traveling with autism.

How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism aisleWhat is the electronic ban?

The US and UK have put in place regulations preventing passengers from using electronic devices on flights from several Middle Eastern and African countries when flying into the UK and US. Though the concept is similar, the countries and airlines on each country’s list are somewhat different.

The UK list

Direct Flights on the following carriers from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia do not allow passengers to carry electronic devices in the cabin:

  • British Airways
  • EasyJet
  • Jet2.com
  • Monarch
  • Thomas Cook
  • Thomson
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Pegasus Airways
  • Atlas-Global Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Egyptair
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Tunis Air
  • SaudiaHow the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism boarding

The US list 

Direct flights from airlines on the list below from the Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia don’t allow travelers to have electronic devices in the cabin:

  • Egypt Air
  • Emirates Airline
  • Etihad Airways
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines

The US list also specifically named ten airports the ban applied to:

  • Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED)
  • King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB)
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
     homeland tweet How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism

Does this affect any US domestic flights?

No! Flights within the US or originating in the US will not be affected at present.

Why was the electronic ban put in place?

Though no specific threat was quoted, the ban has been put in place due to gathered intelligence of imminent terrorist threats to blow up commercial jets using nonmetal explosives that may be difficult to detect by regular airport scanning.

In the past, there have been several attempts like this, the last one being just last year when a bomb hidden in a laptop detonated aboard a flight out of Somalia.

When is it going into effect?

In the UK, several airline companies are already implementing the new ban. In the US, it is about to start on March 25th. 2017.

electronic ban and autism travel pin

What does the electronic ban mean to travelers?

Under the new regulations, only small smartphones will be allowed in the cabin. Other devices will have to travel in the checked luggage, including:

  • Laptops
  • iPads
  • Kindle readers
  • Gameboys
  • E -readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVDs
  • Travel printers
  • Travel scanners

Medical devices will still be allowed after security.
How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism electronics

How long will this ban be in effect?

Hard to tell!

We were on a cruise in Europe back in 2006 when we were notified that we couldn’t carry anything but medicines and passports in our carry on luggage. Apparently, a plot to blow up an aircraft had just been foiled, and the alert levels were raised to the highest level. Soon after that the 100ml liquid restriction came into effect and never went away.

How will the ban affect passengers with autism?

Sadly, that will be a problem not only for families trying to entertain their kids during long haul flights but for those who are nonverbal and use an iPad to communicate. We all still remember the case of Carly Fleischmann back in 2012, who was told to turn off her iPad despite repeated pleas from her and her parents not to take her means of communication away.

Considering this ban came into effect suddenly it is clear that legislatures didn’t think of all possible ramifications and challenges. Hopefully, in time, nonverbal passengers with autism will be allowed to take their iPads onboard with an appropriate doctor’s note.

How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism phone

Helpful tips for traveling with autism

Try to reroute your flight

If you are slotted to fly out of one of the airports on the list you may want to reroute your trip to a different country and fly out of there a few days later. Alternatively look into flying with a more kid friendly airline like Etihad and Emirates that offers nanny service onboard to help entertain the kids.

Book a night flight

If possible try to book a night flight and make sure you tire out the kids with some physical activity before getting to the airport. This way they might sleep a few hours and wouldn’t need entertainment.

Prepare your kid!

Prepare your child for the fact that they will need to do other activities than play on their electronics when flying. Make sure you emphasize the positive on how exciting it is to fly rather than detail why electronics aren’t allowed which they may find scary!

Head on to the dollar store

Depending on your kids’ interests fill a bag with reading or coloring materials, Legos, board games, costumes or any other items that can occupy them for several hours.

Notify the airline

Call the special needs desk and let them know about the importance of seating and entertainment for your kid. If you are traveling as a family, you may want to book aisle seats in rows across from each other in case the entertainment system fails in an entire row.

Bring autism-friendly items

Pack a set of kid-friendly headphones and a power cord to juice up your smartphone during the flight. Most aircraft have USB ports under the seat.
How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism watching tv

Allow ample time at the airport

Traveling after March 25th from the tagged airports to the UK or US? Pre-pack your devices in the checked luggage in protective bubble wrap and get to the airport as early as possible since chances are there will be queues, confusion and even chaos and some instances. Considering this was just sprung on the travel industry it’s hard to gauge what exactly could transpire.

So what should you do?

At this point, I would advise everyone to leave any devices they don’t need at home to prevent theft or hacking.
You may want to purchase an inexpensive throwaway laptop or tablet to use for traveling that you won’t regret losing. Alternatively look into renting an iPad for your kid in the destination you are going to –some hotels do it free of charge.

How the US Electronic Ban affects Traveling with Autism humor

Additional ways to protect your devices

  • Check with your credit cards and home insurance for electronic item coverage in case of theft or damage. Many times you may be able to recover the cost of your lost/stolen/broken device through their programs.
  • To prevent identity theft, back all your information and data the day before your flight and store it on a cloud or memory stick. In addition, you can store any personal information in password zip files or delete info from your device (I know – quite the hassle, but still better than becoming a hacking victim).
  • Make sure to fully turn off all devices and apply a passcode to prevent hackers from accessing your data.
  • Carve your name or at least initials on each device to make it easily identifiable.
  • Some hackers can trace particular devices via GPS tracking. Therefore, make sure to register all devices under an appropriate app like ‘find my phone.’We’ve found that the Tile system helps us keep track of our electronics.

Will you be flying out of the airports on the electronic ban list with your family? How are you planning to entertain your kids?

 

 

 

 

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo pin

In light of recent events where a zoo animal was killed to save the life of a child, it is understandable that these facilities get a lot of bad rap from animal right’s activists and other groups. Admittedly, sometimes it is warranted. But in nearly all certified zoos, animals benefit greatly from various organizations and programs that are there to heal and rehabilitate while preventing the extinction of certain species and educating the public. Taking your children to places like the Moorpark Teaching Zoo gives them opportunities to experience and learn how creatures live. They can learn not only how to help animals after a crisis, but also how to prevent one.

Moorpark Teaching Zoo

There are two teaching zoos currently in existence in the US. One is the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainsville, Florida, and it specializes in training zookeepers. The second is in Moorpark, California, which is well-known in the Performing Animal industry circles. Moorpark Teaching Zoo is an academic institution attached to a college in addition to being a facility for animals. The zoo was featured in Animal Planet’s “Moorpark 24/7”.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo bird

In 1974, the Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) program began with a lone wolf called Kiska. Since then, the zoo has become more well-known and sees many thousands of visitors a year. Graduates of the Moorpark Teaching Zoo get jobs in zoos, sanctuaries, animal parks, animal research facilities and aquariums across the country; especially as trainers. Many also go on to train animals to work in the film and television industry.

Moorpark acquires animals through donations as well as breeding programs. Loans from major zoos and research centers allowed for the building of additional enclosures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo wave

Because of its location, the zoo has been threatened by fires several times in past decades. The worst was in October 2003 where wildfires forced the evacuation of the zoo and animals. The facility was undamaged, but the surrounding hills burned completely. Unfortunately, Kermit the Noble Macaw, and Tango the Arctic Fox died due to stress-related issues caused by the flames. In October 2007, blazes again threatened the area and most of the animals were evacuated as a precaution. Thankfully, the flames did not reach the college. The animals safely returned after two days.

Currently, the zoo has over 200 types of animals including a Bengal tiger, African Lions, Spotted Hyena, Mountain Lions, a wide variety of Primates, birds, and many other exotic and endangered animals. Visitors can see creatures big and small; from eagles, possums, rattlesnakes, beavers, hedgehogs, chervils, goats, llamas, parrots, parakeets, gibbons, turtles, a Galapagos Tortoise, up to and including New Guinea Singing Dogs.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo kitty

Be aware that the animals are in small enclosures and many are not authentic, naturalistic settings. Many of the animals come from abusive situations and may act aggressively or unusually. Many of the tour guides will be happy to tell you stories about the animals.

The Experience

There is a 45-minute informative show that introduces the visitors to some of the zoo’s animals. The seating is in a stadium. Make sure you grab an aisle seat if your kid is antsy or a front row seat if they want to see the animals up close. In the presentation, they showcase a few birds, reptiles and even the hissing Madagascar cockroach.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo wing

Parents can budget around an hour for their children to see the residents of the outdoor enclosures. Student docents are around each cage to answer questions, and there are spots for animal encounters around the compound.

There is a VIP tour which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the zoo. They discuss training, feeding, and caring for their 130 exotic animals! They limit the number of guests to 15 people per group. They allow you to interact with some of the creatures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo beaver

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The zoo is small. You will not experience crowds or lines.
  • Parking: Disabled parking spots require a placard.
  • The pathways weren’t paved, but it is wheelchair/stroller accessible.
  • The zoo is clean, but there are some strong smells around some enclosures.
  • Since this is not a big tourist attraction, there are not many spots to sit or that have shade. Look for some benches around the monkey enclosures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo possum

  • The area is mostly unpaved. Closed shoes are recommended.
  • It can get muddy after it rains in the winter. Come prepared with appropriate footwear. Bring a jacket since it can get windy in the hills.
  • In the summer, it can be sweltering and humid so dress your child accordingly.
  • Most of the exhibits are outdoors except for the reptile area. MAKE SURE YOU LOOK AT THE GROUND AS RATTLESNAKES MIGHT BE ABOUT.
  • The ground is uneven. Children who are unsteady on their feet or have balance issues may need help.
  • Younger kids may need a boost to see into most of the high-barrier enclosures.
  • Come equipped with sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Bring and drink plenty of water! There are no concession areas.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids

 

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids BRIDGE
We got a chance to visit Wai-O-Tapu Park on our cruise around Australia and New Zealand on board the Sapphire Princess.
The New Zealand thermal park with the Maori name meaning “Sacred Water,” is 27 km from the city of Rotorua and is in New Zealand’s volcanic zone centrally located on the North Island.
The park is known for tourism as well as education, so there are booklets, pamphlets and maps are available in a few languages.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids FIRE

This geographical marvel of a park is famous for its colorful volcanic activity and even has the Lady Knox Geyser that draws crowds every morning. There are champagne colored water and bubbling mud pools that you reach mostly by foot over bridges and platforms.With thousands of years in the making, the place is truly a thermal wonderland and a global sensation.

The park’s unique features are its diverse natural landscapes, the geyser as mentioned earlier that erupts daily at 10:15 am, and the vast mud pool that is the site of a mud volcano that was destroyed by erosion almost a century ago. The pools of thick bubbling mud are quite mesmerizing to watch.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids ASH
Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit this park is from spring to fall when the days are longer, and you can extend your stay and make the most of the day.
The park is open every day in spring through fall 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and in winter 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.

The visitor center is where you can purchase the tickets and get information on the different hikes through the park. There are also souvenirs and gifts available at the gift shop, which make lovely keepsakes of this fascinating place and New Zealand.
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You don’t need to buy anything in advance though it might get somewhat crowded when the large cruise ships are in town and bring hundreds of visitors in buses.Prices for adults are NZ$32 and for children NZ$11 which covers ages 5 to 15. Children under five get to go in free so a family can get in for NZ$80.Conditions

Wai-O-Tapu Park Conditions

The vast outdoor park has small boarded and mesh-reinforced walkways that are relatively comfortable to traverse by foot, but not very easy to navigate by wheelchair because not all of them are smooth. Also, you should be aware that it’s very slippery after a rainfall because of the muddy environment.
The park has secure lockers for storing belonging, and there are toilet facilities for people a with disabilities as well as picnic areas.
Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids GREEN

Autism Travel Tips

  • There is a self-serve café where one can purchase hot and cold beverages and food.  If your child has specific dietary needs, you will need to take this into account as the facilities do not provide a vast selection of allergy or food sensitivity options on the menu. There are facilities for picnics, so if your child enjoys that, it is an option.
  • The weather can be unpredictable so bring a jacket in case it gets cold all of a sudden.
  • As the park is outdoors and large, travelers need to come with appropriate shoes. Closed, walking shoes are ideal and not flip-flops or sandals.Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids FOREST
  • If your child has tactile sensitivities, you should pack a poncho because in some areas they may experience some sprinkling or misting which settles on the skin and can leave them feeling damp and uncomfortable.
  • If your child is sensitive to smell, be aware that the area has an unyielding sulfur smell because of the volcanic activity. It is advisable to bring a mask to mitigate the strong odors.
  • Some children may find the bright colored waters somewhat scary so make sure you explain ahead of time what they’re going to see. Furthermore, prepare them for the fact that they cannot touch anything since many of the fluids in the lakes are toxic.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids BOYS

  • There are no toilet facilities out in the park, only at the Visitor’s Center so make sure to let your child know the importance of this before you embark on the tour.
  • During the summer months, it might be wise to wear insect repellent to make sure you’re not bitten by mosquitos and other biting bugs.
  • There are no shelters from the sun, so there is no resting place with shade. Carry extra drinking water and wear sunscreen and hats to prevent sunburn.

 

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids YELLOW

 

 

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