Trying to plan a trip can be stressful for anyone. Getting everything coordinated, making sure everyone is punctual and worrying whether you have remembered to pack all you will need for your time away – it’s all just the tip of the iceberg. When you are travelling as an autistic person, or with an autistic person or child in your travel party, things can get a lot more complicated.
One way you can ease the stress on yourself and the people you are travelling with is to make sure certain aspects of your trip are sensitive to the needs of the autistic person in your group. When hotel staff are sensitive to specific needs, they can take a proactive approach in working to create a welcoming environment for the entire party.
Picking a Place
You may have a specific destination or resort in mind that you have heard wonderful things about, but it is vital to check prior to making a booking, that elements of the accommodation will suit the autistic person you are travelling with. You may wish to contact the hotel directly either by phone, email or even social media and speak to them about any additional needs you may have.
This way, they will be able to advise you directly if they can meet your requirements and it can be the best, most reliable way to find out if that hotel would be a suitable option as a base for your upcoming trip. For example, if the autistic person you are travelling with has specific sensory needs, you could ask the hotel if there is a quiet section of the hotel, before reserving a room.
When travelling with an autistic adult, they and you might find it useful for them to be as involved in the planning of the trip as possible. That way they will be able to prepare as best as they can for the trip and this can help in combating high levels of anxiety.
To involve them, you may want to look at photographs online, or in a brochure, of where you are travelling to and do this regularly to keep the new place in their mind. You may also want to create a timetable so the autistic person knows they will still have a sense of routine while travelling, which can be very comforting, and be sure to warn them of unpredictable situations that can arise when travelling such as unavoidable delays.
Once you arrive at your hotel, you may wish to speak to the reception or the hotel management team to see what they can do to make the autistic person in your party as comfortable as possible. Little things, such as requesting the same space in the dining room each day, could be a big help to the autistic person in your group and are easily to act on for hotel staff. It may also be useful for you to research how to say simple phrases in the native language, to ensure that hotel staff understand. Something as simple as “Please understand, he/she is autistic. Please be patient.”
A number of hotels across the country and indeed the world, show great sensitivity when dealing with the special requirements disabilities can sometimes present. Let’s take a look at some hotels that have been noted in recent years for their excellent responses to autistic guests.
The Gafton, Snowdonia, UK
Dating back to the mid 19th century, this 3 star hotel near Llandudno in Wales has been commended for putting guests at ease when travelling with autistic children. The staff at this hotel are very understanding and always keen to make all guests feel as safe as possible.
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort, Penang, Malaysia
Staff here have expressed outstanding levels of empathy towards previously autistic guests. With hotel staff appearing genuine and sincere in their approach, in the restaurant, people have reported specific dietary needs being graciously met and atypical behaviour being greeted with first class professionalism and sensitivity.
Riad Andalla Spa, Marrakech, Morocco
This four star hotel in the centre of Marrakech boasts attentive staff who are happy to accommodate a range of dietary requirements. Further to this, they are also happy to permit autisitc guests, and other guests that may have mobility issues, to have their meals on the ground floor patio of the hotel.
BO33 Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
Officially rated four star, this hotel has an impressive 4.7 rating on Google because of the outstanding service provided by hotel staff. Located in the city centre, this hotel tries to accommodate the needs of all of their guests and are more than happy to provide quiet rooms to autistic travellers.
While it is always a good idea to contact the hotel directly in advance of booking, some of the biggest travel providers and tour operators in the world now have specific teams dedicated to helping you find the perfect, autism friendly place to stay. TUI, for example, known for ‘crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s and putting U in the middle’, take planning a disability or autism friendly holiday very seriously.
From seeking out hotels that can cater for an array of special, sensory needs to making sure you can board the aircraft first (or last), there are a number of travel companies happy to take the stress out of planning your next autism friendly trip. So, what are you waiting for?