Autistic Travel Tips




Hey guys. So, this Boston. Err… this Boston (it’s Baltimore). Ha! This April, I’m traveling to Boston (Baltimore). Unfortunately, because flights to Boston are not reasonable in April, I will be traveling without David. Traveling alone in an airport is, unfortunately, confusing and not always easy, so I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that I do in order to make traveling a little bit less stressful.

For me, the first thing that I do whenever I am going to be taking a trip, is I make sure I start making a list of all the things I need, like two weeks before I have to leave. So right now, I’m working on getting everything packed. Get everything packed in advance and make sure to check your checklist so you don’t accidentally forget anything. Take the checklist with you so you don’t forget anything when you’re leaving the hotel – that’s a really good tip, too.

The other thing that I strongly, strongly recommend, depending on your airport … if you are flying out of a major city hub. I will be arriving for my flight at least two hours early. If you’re in a smaller airport, you might not need to do this, but arrive early with plenty of time to get to your flight, figure out where you’re going, and get through security. I always find that airports are kind of confusing and a little bit overwhelming, and I am not the best at navigating places that are unfamiliar. I tend to always be kind of turned around and a bit confused looking in the airport, and that’s always unfortunate because security seems to always think I’m up to something, and really I’m just <<totally confused>> because I can’t process what the security people are saying because the airport is so loud and it’s echoing and it’s so big and there’s just so much going on.

Security always give me a hassle. So, to make security easier, suggestions would be: If you have a laptop, go ahead and take it out of your bag before you get to the security gate. Wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on to go through airport security because they are going to make you take your shoes off. Try to avoid metal on your clothes anywhere – anything that might set off the detector. Try to wear clothes that are – this probably wouldn’t be the best shirt – I’d probably wear something that was a little tighter fitting, that shows I don’t have anything in my clothes … not giving the TSA people any reason to bother you. I flew to Chicago last April, and it was cold, and I wore my big lace-up winter boots. I’m glad I had them in Chicago, but it was a really big pain in the butt in the airport. Metal lace-up boots – not so much.

If possible, book a direct flight. Because I always get turned around and lost and confused in airports, I really don’t need the added pressure of having to change planes, in a strange airport I’ve never been to, on a time crunch to get to the next airplane. It’s like Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario when they’re underwater … Tick tick tick tick … “You’re going to drown. You’re going to drown! Get to the gate. Get to the gate!” No. I don’t need that in my life when I’m trying to travel. Whenever possible, if you can book a direct flight, or a flight that does have a stop or layover but there is no plane change, that just would be a really big tip there.

The other thing that is kind of specific to my region, but I like Southwest Airlines. Out of the airlines I have flown, they’ve just been the best to deal with – customer service is pretty great, and I like that if I get there and get on the plane, it’s first come first serve seating, and I don’t usually have trouble getting the window seat. It’s just my favorite airline so far. I haven’t flown on a lot of airlines, just to clarify that. Pretty much all of my flights that I’ve ever taken have been for work. Even the pleasure flights have been with work, if that makes any sense to you. But traveling for work with my teammates and coworkers has really let me learn from seasoned travel professionals how I can make my own travel a bit easier.

So, guys, these are just a few of the things that I will be doing in order to get myself from Austin to Baltimore safely, and hopefully without much difficulty.

Do you have travel tips? I’d love to hear them. Oh – earplugs – that’s another one! Oh my gosh, there’s more!!! Give me your tips in the comments below because I’ve got this trip coming and travel … just the travel part … getting there and getting back. Flights. The airports. That really makes me nervous. So, I’d love any suggestions.

Thank you, guys, so much. I’ll talk to you next week. Have a good one. Bye!




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14 thoughts on “Autistic Travel Tips

  1. Norwich Airport here in the UK have a scheme whereby autistic passengers can do a ‘dummy run’ that takes them from arriving at the airport to being seated in the plane so that they know exactly what they will be going through when it comes to time for the real thing. I have also had (bearing in mind we are talking airports, and such will never actually be enjoyable) reasonably positive experiences at Gatwick and Stansted. As for the horror that is Heathrow I would simply say – avoid at all costs.

  2. I totally agree with all your tips! They are mine, too, especially the part about allowing plenty of time. When we give ourselves all that extra time, planning it into the trip, we can get lost, and then find our way again, with plenty of time to spare.

    Also, Southwest and other airlines have online options as well. You can select a seat (not with Southwest, though), order special meals, order a wheelchair or other special help ahead of time, etc.

    I also try and build in the attitude throughout the trip that I don’t want to miss the journey by trying to get to the destination as fast as possible. Just taking each step when it arrives helps me slow down and enjoy the trip.

    Bon voyage!

  3. If you can afford it, buy the 85 dollar TSA precheck for the year. You get to go through a faster line, keep shoes on and just generally have an easier time. It takes a couple months to get, though, so planning ahead is necessary. But, it definitely makes things easier. Get the Southwest app so you can check-in and have your boarding pass on your phone instead of losing the paper ticket you get at the kiosk and pay another $15 for Southwest’s A boarding pass and early bird check in. You don’t have to remember to check in at all. The proper boarding passes – and notifications about gate changes- are just a button-push away. Just remember to fully charge your phone and maybe bring a spare battery charger since you are relying on apps so much to keep you in the loop. But, apps >>> people whenever possible.

  4. I would also suggest that you have an easy day before you fly so that you are not too over stimulated. Food, that’s also a good thing to remember as you can be waiting around a long time so make sure you eat well. Have a great trip.

  5. It’s not always possible, but if you have time between or before flights and you can get into one of the business lounges, it can really help if you have sensory overload with so much noise and so many people milling around. I know they are more expensive, but if it’s business travel, you may be eligible. I’ve done it a couple of times and found it much less stressful. Apart from the one annoying person who thinks thet everyone needs to hear their very important business conversation, generally they are much more peaceful places.

  6. I pack as much as I can in the week or so before traveling so I’m not racing around the night before or the morning of, getting things together at the last minute. I also keep travel-size toiletries so I can toss them into my kit and not have to worry about forgetting those, and I have my clothes laid out so I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing; I can just throw my clothes on and be done with it.

    Valuables like medications and electronics never go in my suitcase; I carry them on so I always know where they are and I have them even if there’s a luggage issue, and that removes a big source of stress.

    Stretchy, comfy clothes for the trip. Some people like to dress up a bit; I go for leggings or yoga pants (thick and stretchy but not overly tight; skin-tight clothes tweak my sensitivities), or loose-fitting jeans if I happen to have them but they’re usually packed, and a cute blouse with enough length to it that my butt stays covered and warm. And shoes that fit a little big and quick to remove and put on so the whole shoe removal thing doesn’t hold me up.

    Last but not least, I allow lots of time. Our airport is small, but I’m still there a couple hours early so I have plenty of time to get through security, navigate to my gate, and relax and grab a snack before I have to deal with boarding. When I lived in DC I left the house 3 hours before boarding time; here I usually just need two.

    And of course, headphones and sunglasses for reducing stimulation. 🙂

  7. I travel by airplane on my own every year to attend wikiHow conferences.

    I find it helpful to disclose to the TSA that I have a disability. Sometimes I even get to go in the special needs line and skip the long wait. They often have a person help me go through the lineup so that I don’t slow things down too much (since I tend to slow down a lot when I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t want to hold back the people behind me). So far all my experiences have been positive, and the helpers have been really nice.

    This may not work for everyone, but it might be worth a try.

  8. One important thing I do is to plan my trip meticulously, such as planning the routes to places I’m visiting every day, planning the order of visits, estimating time spent on the way and at each destination, and seeing photos of the destinations, to get mentally prepared. I really hate surprises. Since I like planning ahead, I don’t like it when google maps by default assumes that we are departing immediately when looking up routes. I have traveled a lot by plane so I’m fine with navigating airports. But public transport systems of unfamiliar cities can be initially confusing to navigate; visiting the websites of public transport systems and learning about routes, fares, and transit passes can help if you will be using public transport during your trip.

  9. For whatever reason, I get a thrilling feeling when I have to go on an airplane.
    And then I’m just really anxious to get ON the airplane, and I’m like, “LET ME ON RIGHT NOW!”

  10. Autistic travel blogger here. Other airlines I recommend are JetBlue (USA/Caribbean/Latin America) and Icelandair (Iceland/Northern Europe). Based on my experience, they’re reasonable and efficient.

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