Travelling abroad can sometimes become a bit of a logistical nightmare at the best of times, but when you are taking your disabled child with you on the trip, you will want to try and ensure that there holes in your travel plans.
You cannot legislate for delays and cancellations, but you can learn more about EU Regulation 261-2004 in this guide from Bott & Co, to see if you have a viable claim for compensation.
Here is a look at some travel tips and suggestions that should help you to complete your journey with your disabled child in the least disruptive way possible, in circumstances where you do have an element of control, delays and cancellations excepted.
Help is available
Your local council has an obligation to provide a certain level of support under the Children Act 1989, which means that you may well be entitled to get some financial help, including the possibility of getting some financial assistance with certain travel costs.
If you haven’t already discussed your needs with the social services team at your local council, it makes sense to have a discussion about a needs assessment, so that you can see just how much help with costs and facilities that you might be entitled to as part of caring for your disabled child.
Planning a long trip
You will obviously understand what needs your disabled child has and this includes working out how best to tackle a longer trip with them.
If you are taking a longer trip, it may well be prudent to consider the idea of arranging a stopover, so that you can break up the journey.
Your child may experience difficulty staying seated for an extended period of time, which means that some destinations might just prove to be too much of a challenge to attempt in one go.
Work out what would be an acceptable journey time and if your planned journey is close to that limit or exceeds it, it might be better to include a stopover in your plans rather than attempt one direct flight.
If you do decide to incorporate a stopover in your travel plans, make sure that a gate agent is fully informed of your plans prior to your departure, so that all of your luggage and equipment that you need will be available to you when you need it.
Pick your time
It might be that you are restricted as to when you can fly as a result of flight availability, but if you do have the option to choose a time of departure, aim to pick a point in the day where you know your child will be most likely to be ready for the journey.
You will know whether your disabled child is better during the early part of the day rather than later on for example, so use this valuable insight to create an itinerary that suits you and your child in the best possible way.
It is worth remembering that as a general rule, morning flights are often less likely to be subjected to delays than later in the day, when things start to backup with air traffic control. Mornings would be a good option if that works for you and your child, as it not only gives you the best shot at a trouble-free passage, it also gives you the day to get where you are going.
Pick your seat with care
Being allocated the wrong seats for your flight could quickly become a bit of a problem.
Booking an aisle seat may not be the best option if your child is active, which could lead them to getting bumped and brushed by all of the traffic in the form of other passengers and flight attendants, that will be travelling up and down the aisle throughout the flight.
If your child can get claustrophobic, a window seat might not be a good move. The point is, you know what seating option is most likely to benefit your child, so pick your seat with care.
It is always a good idea to check with your doctor or suitable medical professional, regarding your travel plans with your disabled child.
It may be that certain supplements or suitable medications might be available to help them cope with the stresses of the journey. In addition to this, having a doctor’s letter confirming your child’s medical condition, can often help when you are trying to get upgrades or need to ensure that you get the help you need with the minimum of fuss.
Follow some of the common-sense tips and hopefully you will ensure that your travel plans go as smoothly as possible.
Steven Allen is a UK based business traveller with more than a decade of experience contributing articles to numerous travel sites. He has a keen interest in consumer rights and is always looking for ways to improve customer service for airline passengers.