Episode 69: Let’s Hit the Road: Traveling with a Medically Complex Child
Guest: Christy Wilkens, Mom of 6, NICU Nursing Student
Traveling with a medically-complex child can be stressful, overwhelming and daunting. Christy Wilkens, a mom of six, including a special needs child, shares how her family has conquered plane trips overseas and domestically, as well as road trips with their children in tow.
In this episode, we chat about:
- When did you feel safe and secure enough to embark on travel with a special needs child?
- What things did you do, or specialists did you consult to make you feel that way?
- How do you balance safety for your child with the well-being of your family to travel?
- Airplane or car tips you use to make travel easier?
- For flying, what are things you communicate to the gate agent and flight attendants to ensure a smooth flight?
- What helped make your overseas trip with a special needs child a positive, less stressful experience?
- What are your must-have travel items?
- For those traveling this summer who see a family with a special needs child, is there anything they can do to encourage that family, or something that might be of assistance?
- What’s your best advice to a parent wanting to travel with their medically complex child?
Christy Wilkens is a mom to medically complex kids and a NICU nurse in training. She is the author of Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith and writes and speaks about disability, faith, and the power of community. She lives near Austin, Texas with her husband Todd and their six children.
- Safe Place Travel Bed. Inflatable bed for kids who have outgrown portable cribs. Can use it on top of a bed, but we use it on the floor with a foam mattress topper, or an inflatable mattress pad for airplane trips. Super affordable (by special needs equipment standards). Ours is four years old and going strong.
- Special Tomato EIO Pushchair or Jogger. Foldable stroller with extra positioning support (for kids up to 90 pounds/50 inches).
- CARES Child Aviation Restraint System. Provides additional chest harness to be used in-flight, in addition to the lap belt. Designed for kids 22-44 pounds but can be approved for larger children, with prior FAA notice. (This link includes info about how to get approval, and example letter templates to file your request.)
- Ride Safer Travel Vest. For kids who need mild to moderate support, this wearable child restraint system can take the place of a car seat. Harness connects directly to the car’s seat belt and provides additional security.
- Seat Belt Medical Alert. Has a pocket inside to tuck a one-page document offering EMS (or anyone else!) a quick reference about identifying info, diagnoses, medical needs, and providers.
- Medication Organizer. Keeps pills in their original containers which can help smooth things over through TSA security.
Connect with Christy:
Facebook: Faithful, Not Successful
Buy her book:
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Hand to Hold is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parents with personalized emotional support, educational resources and community before, during and after their baby’s NICU stay. NICU support is available at no cost to NICU parents in English and Spanish.
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