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Accessibility + Travel

Invisible disabilities can make travel difficult, but here are some of the best-kept secrets in the industry to make the most of your vacation with ease.

1) Plan your trip early! Thinking of going somewhere in the summer of 2025? Plan that vacation now! By booking early, not only will you secure the best pricing for your trip, but you'll also have the widest range of accommodations to choose from. If you need an accessible room, early booking increases your chances of finding the perfect fit. Inform your Travel Advisor about your accommodation preferences, as they can arrange various amenities, from shower chairs to kits ensuring safety for Deaf travelers.

2) Work with a Travel Advisor. Most of us know about the accessible amenities available in resorts, cruise ships, and beyond. Let us assist you in reducing your booking stress and ensuring you receive the best value for your money. No one wants to show up at an all-inclusive to find out they don’t cater to allergies. Seek out an advisor for assistance.

3) Arrive early for your flight. Standard recommendations say you should arrive at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international flight. If you are heading to the airport with someone who is neurodiverse or needs mobility assistance, plan to be there even earlier. Arriving at the airport can stress even the calmest person, especially if there are delays at security and Murphy's Law says there will always be a delay when you are running late!

4) For individuals who are neurodiverse or traveling with them, there are airport programs designed to assist in navigating security smoothly, preventing undue stress (read - totally melting down in the security line). TSA Cares offers many options aimed at families with autism/neurodiversity to help them prepare for their arrival at the airport. Each airport has different options, but in some cases, you can schedule a time to go through security as “practice”. You may even be able to board an aircraft!

Another option for invisible disabilities is the Sunflower Lanyard. This lanyard signals to airport staff that you have a hidden disability. If your child is the traveler with the disability and will not wear it, the adult traveling with them can. We have used this at many airports around the county and it’s great for getting a little more grace in stressful situations. You may find that folks speak in a quieter voice, or they may ask you how they can assist. Make sure to have a concrete answer of how they can help you ready to go. If you are shy or overwhelmed in these situations, you can print it out ahead of time.

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5) Bring safe snacks. If you or a fellow traveler has food allergies, ensure you pack more snacks than you anticipate needing. Stay prepared for potential delays and situations where safe food options may not be readily available. You can bring most non-liquid foods through TSA but in certain cases with special needs, you may be able to bring in more than the 3.4 oz limitation. Remember that peanut butter is considered a liquid only if it isn’t already on a sandwich. Additionally, consider that you might not be able to consume nut products on a flight if someone onboard has a life-threatening allergy. Plan on eating those before you get on the plane or bring alternative options like jerky or meat sticks.

6) When visiting theme parks such as Disney or Universal, remember to utilize their disability passes if you meet the eligibility criteria. Both parks provide these services, although the process of obtaining them differs between them. Be sure to plan if you would like to take advantage of this type of assistance and talk to your Travel Advisor about how to obtain a pass. Both Disney and Universal passes can be obtained at least a month ahead of time.

More info on the DAS at Disney Parks:

7) Bring your own mobility aids. Do you sometimes use a cane for support at home? Ear

defenders? Support braces? Bring them with you! There’s no shame in the support game! Folks tend to be a lot more active on vacation than they do at home. Make sure your needs are met so you are comfortable. If you anticipate needing a scooter at the theme park or on the cruise, inform your Travel Advisor so they can make arrangements in advance.

8) Last but certainly not least, buy the travel insurance! I suggest this for all of my clients, but it’s especially important if you have special needs. The added reassurance for your

vacation is priceless. Hopefully, you will never need it, but if you do, you have it!

Jill Romine, Travel Advisor

Jill is a Travel Advisor with Touring and Cruises. She lives in Reno, NV with her teen daughter, tween son, husband, 3 cats and a dog. She and her family are neurodiverse, some with food allergies and also mobility limitations.


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