Flying LATAM Airlines with Autism

 

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LATAM
is an airline that mainly flies to and from South America, so we hadn’t flown with them until we decided to visit Peru. One of the main reasons we chose LATAM was that I had British Airways miles that could be used to cover four tickets round trip from Los Angeles to Lima as well as four domestic round-trip flights. Our flight was a direct flight, which is always the best choice when traveling with autism.

Booking Latam Airlines

I booked our tickets online through the British Airways website in less than ten minutes for a total of 225K air miles and hardly any tax. Next, the airline’s customer service agent referred me to the Los Angeles office and was very helpful. A special thanks to Sharon and Mr. Caballero, the Passenger Service Supervisor at LAX!

After explaining that our son has autism and that he can’t wait in long lines and needs bulk seating on the aircraft, Mr. Caballero personally tagged our booking (four flights) with the accommodations and reassured me that everything was taken care of.
aircraft

At the Airport and Boarding

On the day of the first flight, we arrived at LAX 3 ½ hours ahead of time in the event we encountered issues that might need to be resolved. As we approach the ticket counter, we saw very long lines.

I asked for special needs assistance staff, and my family was immediately helped by an agent instead of waiting in the long line.Everyone worked diligently to ensure that we not only were seated together but that we received the bulkhead seats.

bulk seating

LATAM does weigh carry-ons, and we were two pounds over the limit. The airline was incredibly gracious saying that they understood we carried medicines and special hypoallergenic bedding for our son, so they let us carry them without any penalty.

LATAM has an excellent organizational system that uses lines for every ten rows so that the boarding process has a flow and is not too crowded.

At the gate, we pre-boarded using a wheelchair and were able to board each time quickly. It took some time to not only to settle our son but to store our carry-ons in the small overhead bins so were grateful we could do it without delaying fellow passengers. We found the bins on the Boeing 767  and on their Airbus 319  we flew to Cusco from Lima able to hold a 21-inch suitcase each and a small bag comfortably.

overhead bins

Our Seats

As we passed by the  Business Class (there is no First Class), we discovered that it was surprisingly small on the 767. There were 18 seats in all with the most legroom and pitch I’ve seen in a Business Class.

plane seating

We flew the airline’s Economy Class.With the plane’s configuration of 2-3-2, as a family of four, we sat in row 12 and 13. My sons and I got the bulkhead seats while my husband sat behind us on the way to Lima and back. All in all, both rows had adequate leg space and the seat comfort was average although it was a bit annoying when people crossed over from side to side and bumped into us.

 

We were glad to find that pillows and blankets were provided for the red eye flight and there were outlets underneath the seats,  to juice up our devices. There were also no air vents directly blowing on us which are always an issue for our son with autism that has sensory challenges.

 

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Entertainment

A plethora of movies and television shows both in English and Spanish were offered on the entertainment system. The caveat for the bulkhead seating was that the television was built in and fixed in the bulk area in front of you. While the screens don’t fall during turbulence, they are a bit too small and far which makes watching a bit cumbersome.

 

The 319 Airbus doesn’t have any entertainment on board, which was OK as the flight was less than an hour and a half each way and we had packed tablets to watch our own movies. The seats on the Airbus were leather and much more comfortable than most economy seats we’ve sat in on other flights and airlines.

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Meals and Amenities

The flight crew was helpful and attentive. They came around to check and make sure we were comfortable and had our needs met. They offered dinner meal choices of chicken with a salad and cake. Later the crew retired for several hours before returning with a light breakfast. We were disappointed to discover that they had no milk or apple juice for our kids and that coffee wasn’t going to be served due to turbulence.

 

When we continued our journey to Cusco on a domestic flight, we were surprised to discover that the company offered complimentary snack boxes and drinks (including alcohol), even in economy.

dinner

 

The bathrooms on both our long haul flight and domestic were kept clean and were continuously stocked with soap, hand lotions, even mouthwash.

Overall we had a great experience with LATAM that surprisingly showed a high and unexpected level of autism awareness and excellent customer service. We didn’t have to wait in any significant lines and were accommodated on and off the aircraft promptly.

 

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Autism Travel Tips

When traveling LATAM with autism, make sure you call ahead and tag your reservation as special needs and ask for the necessary accommodations (wheelchair assistance) or special diets that your family members may need.

Packing a tablet and power cord may be helpful as there might not be adequate entertainment on some aircraft.

It is interesting to note that while LATAM  does not claim to discriminate against passengers with disabilities, they are one of the few airlines who requires a muzzle for a service animal and they do have this additional statement on their website in regards to passengers with autism:

Passengers with autism who are accompanied by family or caregivers and who do not have a disruptive behavior do not require a medical certificate however if they travel alone, they will have to present a medical certificate.

 

 

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined

Some people say that the most surprise events make for the best stories, and in our case, our experience with Air New Zealand exemplifies exactly that!

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We had originally booked a flight from Lisbon to Zürich connecting to LA which ultimately fell through when our Lisbon to Zürich segment flight was late. This change of plans meant that we lost our connection before we even started our journey.

Booking and Airport Experience

A United Airlines ticket agent at the Lisbon airport took pity on us and decided to book us on the next available flight to London where we would then fly Air New Zealand from London straight to LA.

Needless to say, I was grateful that we were flying Business Class on accumulated points, so I didn’t have to worry about things like last-minute seating arrangements and accommodations for our son with autism.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined screen

Upon arrival at Heathrow International Airport, we got access to Air New Zealand’s quality Business Lounge which provided us with plenty of options to eat and drink. The lounge even offers gluten-free choices, not to mention free WiFi.

Boarding and First Impressions

We were able to pre-board first as part of the accommodation for autism and also because we had Business Class seats. Next, they welcomed us on board by the friendly and enthusiastic crew that helped us with luggage and offered us a glass of champagne or cider.

We then actually started to notice many of the subtle differences that make Air New Zealand a fabulous company, commencing with the continuous smiling staff and their charming Kiwi accents.

As frequent travelers, we have flown in all classes including First, Business, and Economy. It is safe to say that the seat on the Air New Zealand Boeing 777 300 that reclines into a full bed was, and is, the most comfortable we’ve experienced to date.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined seat

Amenities and Entertainment

We received two pillows and a hypoallergenic comforter. The Business Class TV screens are large and can be moved and adjusted to your position, and the recharging station is located directly in front of you (we love when you don’t have to bend down and search for it under the seat). Our son with autism couldn’t get enough of the entertainment console!

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined game

Air New Zealand has, hands down, the most engaging safety video we have ever watched. Everyone around us was apparently paying attention and even testing the different functions from the comfort of their seats.

Passengers can create their personal playlist of movies they want to watch during the flight as well as order whatever food and drinks they wish.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined questions

 

Furthermore, the airline has added informative clips about your intended destination including immigration forms and a concierge service on board to help with your vacation plans. In fact, you could even provide feedback about the service from the comfort of your seat—not that we had reason to complain.

Sleeping in Comfort and Class

Maybe the reason we felt so pampered on Air New Zealand was the fact that this airline, unlike many others, actually makes your bed when you’re ready to sleep.

The cabin staff members come with bed linens and make your bed. When you’re done with the linens, you can press the call button and have them whisked away.

Our son with autism had a stomach ache, and the flight attendants couldn’t be nicer. They made him chamomile tea and even offered him an over-the-counter heartburn medication.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined spray

The aircraft we were on also featured the famous Skycouch in the Economy Premium Class cabin. The Skycouch is a perfect choice for families, especially those with younger kids, and provides comfort at budget pricing.

Impeccable Customer Service

At this point, I should mention that this is the first airline that didn’t scold me for taking pictures, but instead mentioned how they enjoy working with bloggers.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined burger

The Airline Amenity Kit features Clinique cosmetic products and the flight attendants also distribute a kid-friendly coloring kit to entertain children the old-fashioned way.

The special touches are visible everywhere starting from the largest cabin galley up to the whimsical bathrooms with a window view.

Everything about the Business Class on Air New Zealand was top-notch, starting with the entertainment and continuing with the wine choices and food (don’t skip the dessert; it is heavenly). And, of course, there was the gracious and punctual service provided by the crew.

Business Class on Air New Zealand is Luxury Defined snack

Overall, our experience was excellent and needless to say we were sad to leave the plane once we landed in LA. Parents with kids with autism should definitely put Air New Zealand on their radar, as they are so incredibly accommodating and polite. 

Flying Virgin America with Autism

We recently flew Virgin America out of LAX. Overall, the experience surpassed our expectations in accommodations, entertainment, comfort, and compassion for autism travel. 

Booking Process

I booked our flights on the Virgin America website, though I ended up having to fly a week earlier than my husband and my son who has autism. All three one-way tickets purchased were for Economy, but I couldn’t get the bulk seating for my husband and son directly on the website.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Ticket Counter

So, I ended up calling the 1-800 customer service number and spoke with an agent who specializes in disability. The representative was well acquainted with autism and immediately proceeded to put my husband and son in their flight’s Economy Premium section in order to make them more comfortable.

At the Airport

Check-in was a breeze! I had already checked in online, so I only needed to zoom through security with my Global Entry pass and head straight to the gate. My husband and son relayed a similar experience.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Airport

In LAX, Virgin America uses Terminal 3, which tends to be a bit more crowded at security than other terminals. If you are also flying out of this terminal, you may want to arrive earlier and allocate enough time to pass through this process.

I had heard about their newly opened Virgin Atlantic travel lounge, and I was mildly curious to check it out for myself. On request, the staff allowed me a sneak peek. The facility sported an uber-modern look and had several seating areas, a bar, and a modest breakfast buffet table—the room decor compliments the company’s logo in hues of reds and pinks.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Lounge

Passengers wishing to dine before their flight also have the option of choosing from a fast food joint or a sit-down venue at Gladstone’s, which is a sister restaurant to the one in Malibu.

At the Gate

On both Virgin America flights (a week apart);  pre-boarding went relatively smoothly. My husband was happy the crew had given him ample time to board before the deluge of passengers came through. On my solo flight, I was approached by a team member and asked if I needed help putting my carry-on in the top compartment, which I appreciated.

Both flights on Airbus 330 were punctual, which is noteworthy in the middle of the day at a busy airport like LAX.

The Seats

My aisle seat in Economy 12D was covered in leather and better padded than other airlines I have flown. I even had a few inches between my knees and the chair in front of me.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Economy Seat

My husband and son found their wider, more padded, leather seats in 3E and 3F (main cabin) even more comfortable to relax in. We were all thrilled to use the outlets to plug in our phones; the outlets worked well and were placed in an accessible spot, unlike other carriers where we have had to look for them somewhere in the abyss under our seats.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Main Cabin

As seasoned frequent flyers, we all immediately noticed the small—but significant differences—between this Virgin America and their competitors. Highlights ranged from the engaging emergency procedure video done with rap music and the relaxing blue-hued lighting to the positive attitude of the crew asking multiple times if we needed any additional help.

The Food

Let me start by saying that Virgin America offers superior food and entertainment choices that cater to please anyone. They provide an ample free and paid-for drink and snack menu that includes a gluten-free option as well as for purchase meal options.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Food

The fact that you can place an order from the comfort of your seat is so helpful! No more waiting for the traditional cart to come around while everyone else dines, just to be told they are out of your food choice once they reach your seat.

On my flight, I was very happy with my reasonably-priced, healthy breakfast choice that didn’t leave me hungry like some do. The meal was served with coffee that tasted like it was freshly ground.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Menu

The following week my husband and son loved the food offerings too. When our son with autism discovered food is complimentary in the main cabin. He ended up ordering everything he could off that menu. Unlike what has happened to us on European carriers, he was not reprimanded.

Much to my husband’s surprise, the staff was courteous and smiled with each order!

The Amenities

In comparison with other airlines, entertainment is another area where Virgin America gets it right.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Entertainment

The personal touch-screen TV in front of you is so much fun to play with!

You can not only order meals but also watch movies, listen to music; you can even chat with a fellow passenger in a different seat, which is a great feature if family members are separated in-flight.

As you can see from our pictures, the choices are ample—whether one wants to watch movies, TV shows or play games, there is something there for everyone. The entertainment system even features an area for kids with a PG content control making it stress-free for parents.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Charity

Perhaps the most refreshing feature on that screen was the fact there was a section dedicated to charities, encouraging passengers to donate money to several organizations like “Make a Wish Foundation” and one that is close to our hearts, The Special Olympics.

But there’s more.

Forgot your headphones at home? Do you want to nap for a few hours and want a clean pillow and blanket? You can purchase these items right on board. I selected a pillow/blanket set and love the high-quality blanket so much I use it at my desk at home.

Flying Virgin America with Autism Cagtalog

The restrooms, though unimpressive and similar to other airlines, were kept clean throughout the coast-to-coast flight and replenished with paper towels, tissues, and soap on a continuous basis.

Autism Travel Tips

Make sure you mention any special needs at booking and follow up with Virgin America before flying.

On our flights, we found nothing went wrong, and the staff was all very attentive and well rehearsed in helping families and individuals with autism.

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Flying Virgin America with Autism Pin

Thirty Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism

For anyone considering or already booked on a first-time cruise, here are thirty useful tips to help you get the most out of your cruise experience!

 


Before You Board

  • Before you board, be sure to get travel insurance.
    Although there is a doctor on board, they do not take Medicare or other private insurance, so without travel insurance, you would still have to pay for any unforeseen services.
    Check ahead of time what your travel insurance covers in case of medical emergencies related to autism.
  • You should pre-book your reservations for the spa, specialty restaurants and shore excursions you have your heart set on online.
    Once you have everything squared away, you’re ready to go!
  • Sign up for CruiseCritic’s roll call for your sailing to meet fellow passengers.
  • Notify the cruise line of any accommodations you and your family need.

When You Board

  • The cruise line hosts a Sail Away party that is lots of fun!
    At the start of your vacation, it’s an excellent way to meet others before you unpack and get together with friends and family.
  • The first day is essential for getting oriented and planning ahead, choosing activities you would like to do during the trip.
    Register for activities like the character breakfast, ice skating, Flowrider, cupcake decorating as soon as you get on board since there are also some discounts you might be able to benefit from if you sign up early and also some activities will fill up fast.
  • Head on to guest services and make sure that they are aware of your family’s special needs status.
  • Don’t forget to disable your kids’ card from charging in the stores, arcade and other venues. If you are afraid, they will make charges without your permission.

Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism chess

Aboard the Ship

Once you have gotten settled, there are all kinds of activities to do aboard the boat.
Make sure you check the daily cruise newsletter for announcements and information; since there is so much to do aboard, finding something for everyone is quite easy.

Shopping

  • Be a savvy consumer and get acquainted with jewelry and electronics prices before you board the ship to avoid overpaying. Remember, whatever you buy will be harder to fix overseas, and there are no returns.
  • The cosmetic store sells makeup (if you have not restocked your makeup in a while) and offers a free makeover, which would be perfect for tween and teen girls.
  • Careful with the duty-free items; check allowed quantities first and know you cannot use the alcohol during the trip. Only the last night (hint, hint).
  • On formal nights, they hold a $10 item sale where you can get fake jewelry and accessories that are perfect for the younger crowd.
  • Wait for the last day to purchase the ship logo store  T-shirts since some will go on sale  2-for-$20.

 

Entertainment and Sports

  • Involve your child in the ship’s activities by having him or her visit any venue first and ‘test the waters’.
    • On board, ships have an entire gym, bikes, boxing arenas, rope and rock climbing, paid yoga and pilates classes, pools for lap swimming, water polo, soccer, and volleyball; so there is always plenty to do.
      If your kid wishes to try independent activities like rock climbing, ice skating or the FlowRider ask the coordinator if you can arrive either ten minutes before the official start or after the action ends when there are fewer people, and your child can get more individualized attention.
    • Cruise lines now offer classes, so this may be a good opportunity to try something new: like scuba diving, cooking, cupcake decorating, or even scrapbooking and pottery making.Make sure you talk to the person in charge ahead of time so they can accommodate your kid.
  • In the case, you choose to let your child wander by himself/herself you should consider buying a set of high-quality walkies talkies to be in constant touch  with them or teach then and how to use the public phones available around the ship to call you and inform you of their whereabouts
  • You can watch free movies in the regular theater, the 3D theater, by the poolside, or even in your room.Be aware some ships also offer paid options for movies so you may want to block that if you don’t want to incur unauthorized charges.
  • You can borrow all kinds of games from the library for free, such as Sudoku, trivia, bridge, chess, scrabble, and Scattergories.Most ships offer Bingo with prizes for a nominal fee. If your kid wishes to attend, the Bingo sessions arrange for them to be seated in a quieter spot on the edge of the room away from the additional noise.
  • Remember to stay hydrated. It’s not necessary to pay for bottled water when you can get water from the nearest bar if you get thirsty.At night just call room service and ask for a free pitcher of cold water to be delivered to your room.

Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism ropes
When you go ashore, make sure you keep a few things in mind.

  • First of all, ship time and port time can be different at times (When traveling through various time zones ships might decide to adhere to one particular region to inconvenience their passengers less .) A good way to keep track of time is to keep your own watch on ship time and get a $10 watch that will show the port time.
  • Above all, don’t miss the ship! Yes, it will sail without you (some travelers with balconies admit that watching people miss the ship is a favorite pass time.)
  • Another tip to remember is to check the weather forecast for the week on the weather channel website.
    That way, you can choose shore activities that will be appropriate and realistic for the day.
  • As a newbie, you might want to take the cruise line tours for ports that are far from the attraction you wish to visit since those are the only shore excursions guaranteed to bring you back to the ship on time.
    Moreover, if they are delayed for any reason the ship waits for those passengers.
  • Be leery of paying a third-party guide ahead of time since sometimes the cruise ship may end up skipping a  port entirely due to unforeseen reasons.
    If you decide to pre-book a private tour and pre-pay (Which I don’t recommend), then check their refund policy and your travel insurance to make sure you are covered if something goes wrong.
  • Also double check the time it takes to get from the ship to your intended destination and back through traffic since if things don’t go as planned, you may miss your ship.
  • Make sure your child has some form of identification on their person at all times when going ashore, in case they get lost.
  • Parents of nonverbal kids with autism should look into using temporary tattoos with the child’s name and a cell number to call in case the child wanders off especially in a foreign country.
  • Prepare a small shore excursion bag with sunscreen, insect repellent, first aid kit and a small fan if temperatures get unbearably hot.
  • Always carry a bottle of water and some sealed snacks as some ports will not allow you to come ashore with any fresh food from the ship.

Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism lamp

 

 

Stress Free Flight with Autism? It Can Be Done!

This month’s question for the “Ask  Margalit’ is one that many parents have struggled with over the years, and it is how to have stress-free flights with special needs kids.


Dear Margalit
When I was single and before we had children, flying felt like an incredible adventure.
I may be wrong but nowadays getting on a plane seems far more stressful, and that is without children.Add on kids and the stress level shoots up through the roof!
I live in Houston, Texas, with my husband who is originally from Bulgaria and my twin boys, nine who are “on the spectrum”, so I’ve been reluctant to take them on any long haul flight.
However, the situation has changed this year because my father-in-law who lives in Sofia, Bulgaria has become gravely ill, and we have to visit him.
Can you suggest ways to avoid irritating situations that can provide children with autism and their frazzled parents with a relatively stress-free flight?
Thanks,
@HoustonAllie

 

 

Stress Free Flight with Autism? It Can Be Done! lounge

 

Dear HoustonAllie,
I hear what you are saying, and it’s true.
The standing in lines and having security checks just seem to drag the whole process out, and meltdowns can be frequent.
For peace of mind, I recommend the three top things that can make your life easier: Global Entry, Airport Assistance, and  Airport Lounges.

Global Entry

I can’t mention and recommend the US Global Entry program enough.
It is invaluable for both international and domestic flights; ensuring you bypass the lines and benefit from the TSA’s pre-check program too.
My family members got their cards so now we don’t have to wait at immigration and we can still keep our jackets, jewelry, shoes, and belts on, not to mention my medicines and liquids that can stay in my hand luggage.

 

Airport Assistance

The next thing that you can do is ask for Airport Assistance.
It provides travelers with automatic pre-boarding and sometimes a separate waiting area is provided which is great to prevent anxiety from crowds, not to mention, access to the handicap lines when going through security and immigration checks. Airport assistance provides passengers with the option of getting individual transportation within the airport so that you don’t have to be shuttled between terminals in the regular buses or trains, a service we’ve useful after long haul flights when children are tired and irritable
The other benefit of having Airport Assistance is that you get help with kids and luggage on and off the plane which is great when there are air stairs attached to the aircraft instead of the more modern walkway.

Stress Free Flight with Autism? It Can Be Done! vehicle

Airport Lounge.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the noise and the crowds can be extremely stressful for children with autism as well as adults, so the best way to avoid that is to get access to airport lounges where there is complimentary Wi-Fi, food and a place to charge your mobile devices.

Gaining access to airport lounges is done in one of the several ways; credit cards (you can call the airline to check which ones qualify), upgrade to business/first class, special permission or buying a day pass.
I can’t tell you how many times the lounge has saved us.
Did you know that some lounges even have designated rooms for families that have kid’s movies and DVD players?

 

 

Stress Free Flight with Autism? It Can Be Done! play area

In addition, except these three main tips, there are a few others I’d like to mention in passing.
In today’s chaotic world striving to be as self-sufficient as possible is a huge bonus so try to bring as many items as possible to make your child comfortable on board.
As
 a frequent flyer, I pack two tablets and phones with recharge wires in case the entertainment system on the aircraft fails or at times is absent.I wear a Scottevest that helps me carry electronics, wipes and even drink bottles purchased at the airport onboard.

 If your kids need to let out steam, many airports have designated play areas and some like MSP (Minneapolis), and Logan (Boston) have quiet spots complete with rocking chairs.

I can’t stress enough that the most important thing to make your flying experience easier is communication; with your children and with the airline and airport staff.

As a parent, you should let the airline know ahead of time what your child needs regarding accommodations including preferential seating and food.It is helpful to be prepared beforehand, knowing that the authorities and airport personnel are there for your protection and you that you have arranged to be able to take advantage of the benefits provided.
Your children can thereby have an easier journey, and you can have peace of mind knowing that they are content and not about to have a meltdown in public.

Happy flying!

Margalit

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas pin

This ship owned and operated by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is the namesake of the cruise line’s Freedom-class. Capable of carrying over five thousand passengers and crew members the ship mostly travels to ports in the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas ship

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Filled with family-friendly activities this ship is sure to entertain its passengers. Moreover, the vessel boasts quad cabins and connecting rooms that accommodate large families.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas promenade

Fellow Travelers

This cruise line is incredibly popular with families, but active retirees and couples may also find this ship appealing too.Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas sampling

Decor

This vessel like its sister ships is decorated in dark hues of browns, greens, and touches of gold. The main thoroughfare its Royal Promenade boasted plenty of natural light from its skylight ceiling windows.

Despite the ship’s size the ship has a spacious atmosphere even when filled.We enjoyed the bright neon lighting deployed at night time throughout the outdoor decks and promenade that gave the ship an upbeat Times-Square-like vibe.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas lamp

Our promenade facing cabins were outfitted with tasteful artwork,  glass-topped coffee tables, and solid green couches. Light colored wood trims enhanced the bedroom area. Our bathroom floors were done up in colorful blue and green tile, while the rest of the room displayed neutral colors.
Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas show

Amenities

With so many activities to choose from at the different times of day, vacationers need to scrutinize their daily planner carefully, so they don’t miss anything! Our son with autism was obsessed with reading the pamphlets the night before so he could schedule his day.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas planner

 

For the outdoor fans, the ship has pools, court .a simulated FlowRider, a skating rink, a mini golf range, a rock climbing wall and a basketball court.Those wishing to exercise indoors can do so in a spacious gym.

Guests who enjoy taking classes can learn to scuba, surf or decorate cupcakes.The classes are somewhat pricey, but our son was so fascinated with them he agreed to pay for them from his allowance.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas cake

Apart from the obligatory Kids’ Clubs, the ship features Dreamworks experiences like special shows, Parades, Meet and Greet sessions and even Character Breakfasts. Our kids attended the daily movie screenings in the ship’s newly minted 3D theater.
Adults may instead want to check out the casino. Although admission is free of charge, reservations are encouraged for those that want to attend the highly popular ice show that takes place on a regular basis

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas pool

When it comes to dining options, the Freedom of  Seas offers many options aimed to please passengers of all ages.
Except for the main dining rooms with their singing waiters and Windjammer Buffet the ship has a Johnny Rockets burger joint, a Ben and Jerry ice cream parlor and Chops, a specialty steak house.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas theater

In the late afternoon and evening, this ship breams with entertainment options for its guests. From well-choreographed ice skating shows, Broadway reviews to promenade parades there’s never a dull moment onboard.Our kids loved the 70’s disco party that featured the well- loved era hits and dances.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas cupcake

Our connecting cabins

We stayed in the connecting cabins 8279 and 8281 on deck eight.
What was wonderful about it was these cabins provided us with changing views (of the promenade and are safer than balcony cabins when traveling with a kid with autism.

5981750253_0a82e90180_oThe only minor inconvenience with connecting rooms is the fact the cruise line locks the connecting door on boarding day, and it takes a few hours till the cabin steward arrives with the keys to unlock it.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas beds

Both cabins had an extremely large flat screen television sets that sat atop large cabinets. A closet with ample shelving was likewise included in each room which was useful to store our belongings. The desk area contained all the usual accouterments and had several outlets for charging electronic devices.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas bag

Our sons were pleasantly surprised when the teen club staff sent welcome gifts up to our cabins and added a personal invitation for both boys to come and check the club out.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas sink

Our bathrooms

The bathroom areas were well laid out and l lit. I particularly liked the shower sliding door because it provided some privacy for those taking a shower. The shower pod also featured some racks to place soap and other bath products.Bright florescent lighting and a wide sink area complemented the décor.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas breakfast

Autism Travel Tips

  • The process of boarding the ship was a breeze after I had called Royal Caribbean’s special needs dept and requested accommodations.We were cleared with passports checked and luggage scanned in less than fifteen minutes.The terminal RCCL uses in Port Everglades is large, but it was still quite crowded at 2 pm when we arrived.
  • One of the first things we do after boarding is to grab lunch before the muster drill as all food areas close for the muster drill.
  • Next, we hurry the activity centers to register for the different activities since the popular ones fill fast.
  • Passengers wishing to try out the specialty restaurants onboard should do so on boarding day when it is less crowded, and no one insists on any dress code.

    The staff on this ship wowed us. We were warmly greeted by our cabin steward who wanted to ask us what we needed as soon as we arrived. We also found the staff at the various dining , entertainment and activities venues mindful and offering their help throughout the trip. Furthermore we wanted to extend a heart felt thank you to the ship’s captain who took time to chat with our son and sign his ship model and Celine in Guest Relations.

 

 

 

 

Pink’s Los Angeles Iconic Hot Dog House

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's outside

The Story Behind the Name.

Started back in 1939 as a pushcart vendor near the corner of La Brea and Melrose, Pink’s Hot Dogs is an LA institution that has been featured in many movies including the Muppets.
In fact, back in the eighties, long before I ever set foot in LA, I remember hearing about how Madonna met her then husband Sean Penn while standing in line at this very restaurant.

 

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's van

The iconic food venue, celebrating 75 years this month has expanded over time and offers their fantastic service in several other locations like Ohio, San Diego, Connecticut and Las Vegas as well as operating stalls at many southern California summer fairs.

 

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's door

The original Hollywood eatery we like to frequent was built in 1946 and is a relatively small but quaint place for diners to come and get their hot dog fix.
The indoor area walls are decorated with a growing number of photos of celebrities who stopped by and enjoyed the food.

The Venue

It’s perfect for antsy children to explore while their parents are dining while the outdoor ‘patio’ area with tables further apart and plenty of shade under the large beach umbrellas, is quieter and better suited for special needs families.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's menu

The Pink dining experience starts while waiting in line.
It moves surprisingly fast considering how long the lines can be at times.

Before you even order your food, you get to look at how the food venue evolved through the decades and choose your hot dog from their extensive menu.
Can you believe that there are 31 different varieties to choose from?
Our son with autism who hates standing in line for anything enjoys checking out the old photos displayed and chatting with fellow customers.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's more menu

The colorful menu provides not only written descriptions but pictures too.
As well as offering hot dogs, burgers( including a burger dog combo called ‘Jaws’), must try side dishes like chili fries and onion rings to go; they even have desserts.
Portions are on the large side so younger children can share a hot dog with a sibling. With prices ranging from a basic dog at just over four bucks to a three dog extravaganza that is ten dollars and change, the prices are very affordable.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's VIP

As the leading hot dog eatery in Hollywood, many of their combos are named after the celebrity that created them.My son picked the ‘ Martha Stewart’ a dog with mustard, relish, onion, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, bacon and sour cream and the ‘Ozzy’ a spicy Polish hot dog with nacho cheese, American cheese, grilled onion, guacamole and chopped tomato as his favorites.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's LOOT

Mine turned out to be the Philly cheese steak dog with grilled steak, grilled peppers, onions topped with American and Swiss cheese as well as the 9-inch stretch dog with mustard, onions, cheddar cheese topped with a generous helping of tasty chili called the “Brando,” yes, named for Marlon.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's FRONT

 

They even have Souvenirs

For the out-of-towners who wish to remember the visit, as well as the collectors among you, be sure to check out their cute souvenirs especially the pins, shirts and beaded bag in the form of a hot dog.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's PURSE

Autism Travel Tips

What makes Pink’s, even more, unique is the owners’ dedication to helping special needs families.
Not only have the Pink family and their establishments been very active in many local charity events but their autism awareness is commendable.
During the interview with the owner, I mentioned that some patrons with autism might not be able to wait in line to order food. Both him and his lovely sister assured me that if customers call and place their order by phone a few minutes in advance, the restaurant’s  servers will ensure that the food is ready by the time they arrive so they won’t have to wait at all!

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's WELCOME

 

Disclaimer: All or part of this experience were provided free or at a reduced cost for review purposes.All opinions are solely that of the writer and cannot be bought or swayed in any away.

 

Autism Awareness at Super Bowl XLVIII

Last January, when we were scheduled to fly into NYC for our  Norwegian Breakaway cruise, I realized the city was going to be hosting Super Bowl XLVIII the very weekend we were in town!

For many people, especially NFL fans, this would sound like a fantastic opportunity; but for our family with autism who shies away from crowds, this was not welcome news in any way.

Making matters worse, we realized that Super Bowl XLVIII Boulevard activities were going to be located next to our hotel and that the weather for the weekend was grim – with a blizzard and freezing temperatures forecast.

So, the trip sounded like it had the makings of a potential disaster right off the bat and had the plane tickets been refundable, we would have probably opted to cancel the trip.

But sometimes things have a strange way of turning around and proving even the most experienced mom wrong.

Not only did we end up participating in three Super Bowl XLVIII related activities, but encountered a level of kindness and autism awareness that was so amazing, it totally blew us away.

Autism Awareness and Sweet Surprise at Super Bowl XLVIIIpuppy

 

The Puppy Bowl

Our first stop was the Puppy Bowl Experience at the Discovery Center,  showcasing Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl decade of success.

For those of you who don’t know, the Puppy Bowl started as part replica/part parody of the Super Bowl back in 2005 with half a million viewers. It subsequently ballooned into an annual TV event with over 12 million viewers by 2013.

Broadcast every year on Super Bowl Sunday, the show consists of adoptable shelter puppies playing in a miniature stadium. The show features instant replay shots, a ‘kiss camera’, its tailgate party and even kitty halftime show. With comments from Dan Schachner using football terminology, and ‘Meep the bird’ as the official social media blogger tweeting about the game in ‘real time’, viewers find it highly entertaining!

The 15,000 square foot Puppy Bowl experience turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser with a Puppy Hall of Fame, several interactive booths filled with games, face painting, and even an area to create a customized dog tag.
The exhibit’s highlight was a replica of the show’s stadium filled with puppies playing with various chew toys. Our son with autism loved the guide dogs section and couldn’t get enough of playing with and petting the docile service dogs.

Autism Awareness and Sweet Surprise at Super Bowl XLVIII lounge

 

Chase’s VIP Lounge

As we were leaving, the Puppy Ball we stumbled upon another surprise.
Chase was hosting a free Super Bowl VIP lounge for its United Airlines credit card users next door at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen restaurant.
After having our ID’s and credit card checked at the entrance, we got right in with less than 5 minutes wait which was great considering it was 20 some degrees outside!
After we were all fitted with a green wristband, my husband and I  (the adults) were handed three tickets for free alcoholic drinks.

We discovered pretty soon that the lounge was popular, in other words — we couldn’t find seating at all.
My son was getting tired, a bit anxious and close to melting down when the manager himself saved the day and personally brought an extra table and chairs from the back and finding us a spot in a corner of the locale.

Autism Awareness and Sweet Surprise at Super Bowl XLVIII food

The sports bar offered a buffet with several hot dishes, salads, fruit and mini petit four cakes, as well as servers that came around with appetizer platters throughout our time there.
My husband and I exchanged our drink tickets for a Cosmo while our son ordered pineapple juice.
Did I mention that all the juices, soft drinks, coffees, teas and hot chocolate were complimentary and unlimited?

Overall, we were surprised to discover the food was pretty good and replenished promptly unlike our experiences in many hotels and airport lounges we’ve visited over the years.
To add to our wonderful experience, we were each handed a gift on the way out that included a blue plush bag with fleece gloves, hat, and scarf, which was perfect since we had forgotten to pack our gloves for the trip.
Autism Awareness and Sweet Surprise at Super Bowl XLVIII attractions

The Activities

The Super Bowl XLVIII Boulevard that stretched over thirteen blocks in the middle of Times Square was the third free event we attended that day.
It featured an autograph stage, a place to take your picture with the Lombardi trophy and 20-foot Super Bowl XLVIII Roman numerals sign, spots to practice football like in the ‘rush hours’ and ‘play 60’  games, as well as NFL, ESPN, and FOX, broadcast stations to gawk at.

As we passed by the different displays, we saw sponsors like Papa John’s, McDonald’s  and M&M giving out free samples, but didn’t stop since we were still full from the food we had eaten at the lounge.

Our son with autism was only interested in two activities; checking the Xbox One display which didn’t hold his interest for long, and riding the 180-foot long toboggan run.

Autism Awareness and Sweet Surprise at Super Bowl XLVIII toboggen
When we approached the toboggan ride, we were told to go and purchase a $5 ticket in an office around the corner.
The temperature was dropping fast, and we were thoroughly discouraged to discover there was a huge line of thirty minutes just to buy the tickets. Did I mention there was a separate even long line for the ride itself?
I was tired, cold and about to call it quits but our son decided that this was the moment to self-advocate and ask for help.
He went to a young lady who was in charge of the line and explained his disability.

The next thing we knew, she went to purchase his ticket and proceeded to escort him to a special VIP line for the ride, so he didn’t to wait in either line! She came to us and explained that she had worked with special needs kids, so she was aware of the challenges involved and wanted to help.As parents to a special needs child, I can say it is a rarity to find a complete stranger who shows such an understanding of autism and is so helpful. Both my husband and I were moved to tears!

Needless to say, her gesture set the tone for the rest of the day -in a positive way!
Our initial anxiety and hesitation at the thought of participating in these events turned to the enjoyment and profound gratitude.
For being such reluctant Super Bowlers, I can say that we are now big fans!
In fact; the whole experience was so uplifting it turned out to be one of the best memories of our entire year.

 

 

 

Top Boston Travel Suggestions for Children with Autism

Boston is one of our favorite cities to visit in the US.
It is very autism and family friendly with many activities that are sure to engage and please kids and adults.
For those who have not visited Boston yet, here are our top suggestions to try.

Take the water shuttle

The most economical way to see Boston is to take the MBTA Harbor ferry from the Aquarium Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard and back.
The Ferry runs every 15 minutes and gives you an excellent view of the city not unlike a harbor cruise.
For many travelers unaccustomed to water travel, as well as children with autism that love the repetitive activity, it can provide a real adventure.

 Promote map reading skills for the subway 

The Red and Green lines are most useful for seeing the sights while the Blue and Silver are useful for getting to and from the airport.
Boston boasts the Tremont Street Subway – the first active subway in the States that started operating last century.
For travelers with autism, this is an excellent opportunity to learn and practice reading maps and coordinate multiple means of transportation such as buses, ferries, and subways to get to the required destination.

Boston - Top Ten Tourism Suggestions for Children with Autism sea

 Walk the U.S freedom trail and relive history

Check out the NPS free tour by following the red brick road!
Many kids with autism will enjoy seeing the historical Revolution places up close and personal instead of merely reading about them in school books.
Start with Paul Revere’s family home built around 1680 that qualifies as one of oldest buildings in downtown Boston.
It served as a dwelling to Boston’s pre-revolution silversmith who became famous for his “midnight ride” to Lexington, Massachusetts informing Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them.
Continue to the Old North Church famous for the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal, after being informed by Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land.

Next visit the Old South Meeting House best known as the site where the Boston Tea Party began in the winter of 1773. Envision Samuel Adams announcing, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” and loads of protesters dumping three shiploads of tea into Boston Harbor.
Culminate the historical adventure at the King’s Chapel, and Granary Burying Grounds.
The grounds as the name suggests were used for grain storage but later became a cemetery for many famous clergymen and politicians like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.
An interesting fact to know about the Granary Grounds is that although over 5000 people are buried there, there are less than 2000 headstones since in many cases families used a single one headstone for several family members to override the high costs.On select

On select dates, volunteers dress up as historical characters and speak to visitors ‘in character.’ For details, guests should contact the National Park to find out more information about their Revolution reenactment dates.

 Relax in the Commons and make room for ducklings

The fifty acres Boston Commons is the oldest park in the country.
In the past, the park was used for many purposes ranging from cattle grazing, public hangings to historical speeches. Nowadays it serves as a recreational heaven.
The park is one of these multi-sensory places where visitors with autism can enjoy and create memories.
Kids can climb Nancy Schon’s statues of Mother Duck and her ducklings traveling to their new home on a lagoon island in Boston’s Public Garden after reading or the book by Robert McCloskey,(makes a great souvenir), or just run around the grounds.

Another Bostonian staple is riding the park’s Swan Boats.
Inspired by Wagner’s opera Lohengrin in which a knight of the Holy Grail crosses a river in a swan-drawn boat to defend the innocence of his heroine, Princess Elsa.
The park ride, originally introduced by Robert Paget as a foot-propelled catamaran in the shape of a swan could carry eight visitors. The current boats are replicas of the originals, but are more spacious with five or six benches, carrying up to 20 passengers.

Have a beer or burger where everyone knows your name

The actual bar that inspired the famous TV show, Cheers, formerly known as Bull and Finch Pub, is located on Beacon Hill across from the Swan boats and the public garden.
A second location of the bar,  in the renovated Faneuil  Hall, features a replica of the TV show bar interior.
For travelers with autism that enjoy TV trivia or huge burgers like ‘the NORM’, it is the perfect place to eat, look around and buy souvenirs!

 Have Pizza at Regina’s North End – the Original Boston

The evening that we visited, the line was around the block, and locals assured us it was a slow night!

Apparently, even law enforcement officers and first responders frequent the place and don’t hesitate to park haphazardly on the street to get their coveted slice. We found the servers and cooks very friendly, and grateful they even took our kids for a ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen view!

Boston - Top Ten Tourism Suggestions for Children with Autism swans

 Have chocolate cannoli

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli!” Peter Clemenz says to Rocco, in The Godfather, after killing Paulie in the car.

The Modern Pastry Shop on 257 Hanover Street is mentioned on many travel sites, including Tripadvisor and Yelp as the best, and rightfully so.
This place, too, has a huge line to walk through until you get inside to choose a cannoli.
What we liked less was that once we finally got to the counter to order, we were somewhat rushed into making a decision .We understood the servers at the cash register wanted to help as many customers as possible, but our son with autism found it a bit daunting.

With that said, this bakery makes the most incredible chocolate and ricotta filled cannoli you can imagine. In fact; our kids were very disappointed to find out that they couldn’t find any similar ones during our cruise around  Italy the following year!

Turns out, the Italians do make fabulous cannoli, but they don’t use chocolate in any of their recipes; So, the chocolate cannoli is a Bostonian spin on the original concept.

 Catch a free Boston Pops Orchestra concert 

Best known for its July 4th extravaganzas, the BPO was founded in 1885 as a summer alternative of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The Orchestra that achieved world fame under Arthur Fiedler, its long-time director specializes in performing popular and light classical music in casual settings at Symphony Hall, and outdoors at the Hatch Shell.
Our son with autism enjoyed the concert so much that he forgot to complain about sitting on the grass and being surrounded by bugs, a rare occurrence in his case!

 Gaze at the skyline or catch a sunset

You cannot leave Boston without taking a step back and enjoying the skyline.
Consider staying in a hotel like the Hyatt or the Marriott on the city wharf.
We stayed at the Hyatt that has excellent grounds, including a paved veranda that overlooks the harbor, where kids loved running around. On late afternoons and early evenings, we pulled up lounge chairs and just gawked at the beautiful sunsets!

 

The Ultimate Autism Travel Packing List

Over the years, we have had times we’ve had to pack and go with our kids at times at very short notice.
After the first few times of missing our toothbrushes, underwear, different electrical cords and even our I.D.’s, we realized the importance of coming up with an all-comprehensive packing list that would help solve many of these problems. As detailed as it may be, chances are a few items will still be missing; so feel free to add your particular items to our growing list.

Tip: Create a travel cabinet

Consider establishing a traveling cabinet in your basement or your garage that will store all your travel supplies, medicines, travel clothing and suitcases in one single area to help you access your supplies quickly.
We pack our cosmetics and medicines in specially labeled bags and store them in our travel cabinet year round, so we do not have to unpack and repack them each time we travel. Doing so not only cuts on travel preparations but serves as an emergency backup of sorts if you live in areas prone to weather or other unexpected emergencies such as earthquakes, fires, and tornadoes. The only caveat is you DO need to check the expiration dates on your medicines at least once a year and remember to replenish the cosmetics and medicines you use.

The all-comprehensive packing list when traveling  with autism meds

Over-The-Counter Medicines

  • Mini first aid kit (to carry around during day) including mini tweezers for splinters, Solarcaine for sunburns, and Antibiotic cream
  • For Pain: Advil, Tylenol, baby Aspirin and Thermacare patches
  • For Female Issues: Midol for pains; Vagisil, Monistat for yeast infections; Cystex for urinary infections
  • For Allergy issues: Benadryl, Zyrtec tablets and Benadryl and Hydrocortisone creams.
  • For Digestive issues:
    • Anti-Diuretic: Imodium or any other;
    • Fiber tablets like Metamucil
    • Soreness: Preparation H
    • Nausea: Nauzene
    • Heartburn: Mylanta
    • Gas -X, Zantac
  • Eye care: Visine, Patanol
  • Ear care: Similasan homeopathic drops or equivalent
  • For Colds & Flu symptoms:
    • Throat pain: Throat lozenges
    • Decongestant: NyQuil day and night or equivalent
    • Cough Syrup like Delysm
    • Nose Spray like Afrin
  • Do not forget to carry your thermometer and covers so several people can safely use it
  • Lice shampoo–lice are more widespread than you might think so you should be prepared
  • Pin X-pinworm treatment for a just in case situation
  • Skin issues
    • Rashes: Hydrocortisone cream
    • Fungal Infections for Athlete’s Foot: Lamisil or equivalent
    • Blister treatment: Moleskin, Water repellant Band-aids, and Anti-chafing stick
  • Sleep aids to combat jetlag: Melatonin, Benadryl, Valerian, ear plugs
  • Vitamins
  • Glucose tablets
  • Suture and syringe set for travel in third world countries
  • Poison control: Activated charcoal for poison absorbent
  • Medical bracelets for non-verbal travelers with existing medical conditions
  • USB port medical information
  • IAMAT membership card

Prescription Medications

  • Antibiotics tablets: If you are allergic to some kinds you should carry your own to use when needed.
  • Eye Antibiotic drops: Tobradex or equivalent
  • Ear antibiotic drops
  • Motion sickness prevention: Transdermal patch or Dramamine tablets
  • Save a tooth kit: any a tooth that is knocked out can be kept for 1-2 hours in the container until you reach help.
  • Vision Glasses: At least one extra pair if you wear glasses.We carry four pairs for each family member, and there have been times we were down to our last couple with our son.
  • All prescription medicines that are taken on a daily basis.
  • Oxygen tank
  • Hearing aid cleaner
  • Extra tubing and cleaner
  • Mini Dehumidifier

Remember to pack a week of extra supply for each medicine in case you get stranded anywhere along with an actual written prescription that can be refilled.

The all-comprehensive packing list when traveling with autism safety

Keeping healthy while traveling

No one wants to get sick on vacation so here are some items worth taking with you if you want to stay healthy:

  • Hand wipes or equivalent to clean hands before meals after bathroom visits.Avoid wipes and antibacterial gels that contain a high percentage of alcohol and unnecessarily dry your skin.
  • Mini Lysol sprays for public toilet seats and to ‘clean’ your hotel room or ship cabin upon arrival.
  • Bath mat for the hotel or cruise cabin showers stall/tub.
  • Mini foldable cups to use when you want to drink.
  • Replace your travel toothbrushes every 2-3 months

Bedbugs prevention

  • Choose hard plastic suitcases as they provide better protection against bed bugs and keep your bags off room and cabin floors.
  • Keep your belongings in Ziploc bags when you use the hotel/cabin drawers
  • Upon entering your hotel room/ship cabin lift your mattress and check seams carefully with a flashlight!

Staying safe during travel

After we have been rudely awakened in London by a fire alarm, we realized we should have a ‘limited’ contingency plan of our own for emergencies. Now we have an extra bag for that particular purpose, known by my other family members as ‘the worry wort bag.’

  • Flashlight–one per person
  • Door and or a window alarms–especially if your kid tends to wander
  • Nightlight-great for dark hotel rooms and ship cabin, especially in cabins with bunk beds that entail ladders. Make sure you carry an extra bulb and batteries.
  • Face masks to protect against smoke inhalation in case of fire
  • Emergency blankets–the thin tin foil like you find in surplus stores for fire emergency
  • Rope-for family members to hold on to in smoke infested hotel corridors
  • Whistle–as a way of communication in smoke conditions
  • In the case you travel with younger kids you also need:
  • Car seats for those traveling with small kids
  • Seatbelt extender

Electronics


This section needs no introduction unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade. In our house, electronics keep us sane, they entertain the kids and provide us with a way to communicate amongst ourselves and with loved ones when we are away.

  • Wheelchair or Scooter recharger
  • Extra batteries for hearing aids
  • Extra power strip
  • Universal Converter
  • International transformer
  • Extra rechargers-cell phone,tablet,laptop rechargers,car rechargers
  • Headphones-bring extra ones since they tend to break
  • Portable DVD players and movies
  • GPS
  • Camera and Camcorder batteries, memory card and rechargers
  • Walkie talkies- especially for cruise ships

Miscellaneous

  • Room thermometer to check your room/cabin temperature
  • Alarm clock; in case that hotel or cruise ship wake-up call center malfunctions!
  • Swiss army knife if you travel via bus, car or train
  • Bottle opener
  • Scissors
  • Mini pliers and Screw Drivers
  • Superglue, Duct tape and WD40 (for stuck suitcase zippers)
  • Fabreeze for ‘moldy’ smelling room or funky smelling bathroom
  • Saran wrap to cover foods overnight
  • small Ziploc bags to carry snacks
  • Sticky notes to remind your room steward on the ship of anything you need.
  • Safety pins
  • Duct tape.Velcro and Double stick thin clothing tape
  • Static Guard spray, Wrinkle Free Spray
  • Bubble wrap
  • Mini measuring tape
  • Handheld shower kit if your hotel does not supply one
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Mini cooler

Laundry

If your child goes through several sets of clothes every day, then you need to plan to do laundry during your travel.

  • Hypoallergenic laundry detergent
  • Lint away mini roller
  • Sink Stops (buy at least two  sizes)
  • Stain remover stick
  • Clothesline and Pins

 

The Best Autism Travel Packing List: Absolutely Necessary Stuff
Personal Care

Per TSA regulations all products carried in carry-on luggage should be 3 oz.
We buy our mini sized cosmetics at REI and Minimus, but you can find many stores selling travel-sized cosmetics nowadays.

Skincare:

  • Soap especially if you are or your autistic kid  suffers from allergies
  • wash cloths if you are traveling internationally since many countries
  • Body lotion if you suffer from dry skin
  • Deodorant
  • Shavers and Shaving Cream

Haircare:

  • Shampoo/conditioner combo
  • Hair De-tangler
  • Shower cap
  • Hair brush and comb

Oral care:

  • Toothbrushes, tooth- brush covers, Tooth Paste and Dental Floss
  • Mouth Wash and Tongue Cleaners
  • Oragel mouth spray
  • Lip balm

Nail care:

  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Base and top coats
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors
  • Emory boards
  • Tweezers

Eyecare:

  • Contacts solution
  • Mini kit to repair vision glasses

Weather-related

Cold weather

  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Legwarmers
  • Earmuffs
  • Extra pair of shoes

Rainy weather

  • Waterproof spray for your shoes
  • Umbrella or Poncho
  • Galoshes or Rain Boots
  • Snow or Ice- weather
  • Special anti-slip attachments for shoes

Hot/Humid weather

  • Personal mini fan (remember to pack extra batteries)
  • Carabiner to carry water bottle
  • Hat or Visor
  • Sunglasses including ones you can wear over vision glasses
  • Sunscreen and Aloe vera ointment for sun burns
  • Insect Repellant Spray

Making your child with autism comfortable

Depending on your kid you may find some or many of items on this list useful to pack.

  • Food: favorite snacks
  • Entertainment:
    • Coloring materials
    • Legos in a box
    • Movies
    • Netflix membership
    • Books on Tape
  • Sleep Comfort:
    • Blanket or Mini Pillow
    • Stuffed animal,
    • Family pictures
  • Life skills help:
    • Decal for cruise cabin door to be readily identifiable
    • flash cards
    • Mobile apps to help verbalize needs
    • Printed itinerary routines
  • Sensory:
    • Ear plugs or Headphones
    • Chew objects, gum
    • Written itinerary routines
  • Safety:
    • Temporary tattoos
    • Communication devices like cell phone or Walkie Talkies

Documents

  • By far the most important to remember are your documents.
    Make sure they are always with you either in your carry-on or purse.You can also have a backup pdf copy on your laptop.

    • Itinerary and Travel related
      • Boarding passes,tickets,reservations
      • Passports and copies of passports
      • Green cards, ID, Birth Certificate, Drivers’ License, International drivers’ permit
      • Custody papers notarized consent from another parent
      • Copies of credit cards with contact information
      • House keys
      • Insurance papers
      • Car insurance
      • Travel Insurance
      • Membership cards for associations like AAA
      • Discount cards like Entertainment Card or Costco membership to get discounts on hotels, theme parks
    • Medical Related
      • Medical cards and copies of medical cards
      • Copies of prescriptions
      • Medical history downloaded on a memory chip
      • Doctor’s note describing diagnosis and allergies

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