When planning a trip, parents of kids with autism face many challenges. From selecting a suitable seat on the airplane to what landmarks to visit; they have to think of all the details. One of the most critical decisions to make is choosing the right hotel. To help parents chose the appropriate hotel for their family here are our 10 hotel amenities for families with autism.
Most hotels today have pools, either indoor or outdoor pool. One of the first questions to ask is, does your hotel have a lifeguard on duty? If so, what are the hours they are on staff? Also, ask if the hotel has pool toys and floats on sight. If not, you will know in advance to pack some of your own, if they are needed. If they do, once the family is ready to head to the pool, take a moment to introduce your child to the lifeguard. Inform the lifeguard of any challenges your child may have around water.
Autism Travel Tip: Request a room away from the pool if your kid is noise sensitive.
Room security does not mean having a guard outside the door. For a hotel, room security could include locks on front or sliding doors and windows. It also means alarms for the doors for kids that tend to wander off. These hotel amenities are becoming a norm in more and more hotels and provide parents the sense of safety for their kids.
Autism Travel Tip: To air on the side of caution parents can bring stick on alarms kits for the room door.
Connecting rooms are an excellent amenity for parents who have multiple children. Parents can split up and have boys in one room and girls in the other. If the children are older such as teens, parents might even be able to grab a few minutes for themselves to relax. Another great benefit of connecting rooms is parents and children will have more room to move around and spread out.
Autism Travel Tip: The downside of connecting rooms is that parents need to pack extras. So, whether it is additional toiletries or wires for electronic devices; parents need to pack two of everything.
Housekeeping could be a vital resource when traveling. Between extra towels, pillows, sheets, or even a late-night accident, housekeeping can be your best friend. Occasionally being in a strange place, with new smells, sounds, and layout can wreak havoc on some children. Accidents can happen, such as spills, or bodily fluid accidents and a 24-hour housekeeper could help save the day so that the entire family can sleep in peace.
Autism Travel Tip: Ask for a few extra towels at check in to help with minor mishaps.
Sometimes in older hotels, the rooms harbor many different allergens. These allergens could prove challenging to a child with autism, or anyone with allergies or smell sensitivities. Some of the places allergens can hide are in the furniture, pillows, blankets, and flooring. Parents should contact the hotel and ask if the hotel has hypo-allergenic rooms. Many times, if asked ahead they can accommodate allergy requests easily.
Autism Travel Tip: Before booking; ask the front desk whether the property allows pets and the date of their last renovation. This information can help determine whether the property is suitable for your family.
To some parents’ delight, more and more hotels are offering child care services. Some hotels provide day programs for kids, and some even offer evening services. On a family vacation, it is always good for the parents to be able to have a little time to themselves. If the hotel does offer child care services, make sure to let them know about your children's abilities and difficulties to make sure they can accommodate your kid.
Autism Travel Tip: Have a printed sheet of paper to hand out to caregivers with both parents' cell phone numbers as well as any allergies.
Food is a necessity for life, but it can also save the day in the event of an unhappy child. If a child has specific food allergies, limitations, or restrictions having choices as a parent, will make everyone happier. The 24-hour part is super beneficial when traveling if you are changing time zones. Time zones can be stressful for an adult but could cause a significant meltdown in a child with autism that is on a strict schedule.
Autism Travel Tip: Remember to ask for an empty mini fridge or cooler in the room to help keep food fresh.
Rollaways are an excellent solution for families traveling on a budget or for kids with autism that require supervision. Since most hotel rooms come with one or two beds requesting a rollaway is an option. Nowadays many hotels have rollaway beds in two sizes- a kid size and an adult version Before booking parents should call the property and ask about the fire regulations as well as what type of rollaway are offered.
Autism Travel Tip: Not all mattresses are created equal. If the rollaway mattress needs extra padding; parents should ask housekeeping for extra blankets to make it more comfortable.
When traveling to a touristy location, see if the hotel offers free shuttles or buses to the local tourist attractions. Renting a car or paying for an Uber can add up financially quickly. So, hotel shuttles to local attractions can be helpful and more relaxing.
Autism Travel Tip: Prepare your kid ahead of time to the waiting involved since shuttles can run a little late.
Many children on the autism spectrum love electronic devices. When hotels offer free WI-FI, parents are beyond grateful. Access to free WI-FI allows parents to have a few quiet moments while the kids are occupied.
Autism Travel Tip: In case the Wi-Fi is too pricey look into getting a cheap hotspot through the cell phone company.