We all know that airports aren’t the calmest environments but you can reduce the stress levels you face at the airport with some simple pre-planning.

Here are my top 5 tips to make sure your holiday isn’t ruined by increased stress levels in the airport.


You get to the airport, spend a few minutes trying to find somewhere to park, have to maneuver the car into the tight space. 

Then you shout at the kids not to scratch the car next to you when they swing the doors open and make sure your able bodied children don’t run away while you are unloading the wheelchair. 

Next you unload the car, struggled to get all the luggage and the kids to the bus stop, load everyone onto the bus (which is already full so you miss out on the luxury of a seat) and then snap at your partner because they haven’t written down where you parked… sound about right?

Already your stress levels are increasing and you’re not even in the terminal.

There is a simple solution to this though… valet parking!

Pre-book your valet parking and you can just pull up at the terminal, unload your luggage onto a trolley and get everyone into the terminal without any buses or stress.

Yes, it may cost you a little extra but I’ve found if you shop around online you can find valet parking cheaper than other airport parking.  


Everyone gets stressed out going through security at the airport, regardless of whether they have children with them.  But you can prepare for this part of the airport when you are packing. 

Make sure all your liquids are in bottles under 100ml and are in a clear plastic bag.   Put all of them into the same hand luggage bag so you can find them easily.

Put all your electronics into the same bag before you go through security so you can take them all out easily

You can then distribute the electronics & liquids to their owners hand luggage after the security checks have been done.

Make sure your children know what might happen at the security gate – they may have to remove shoes, coats and will have to walk through a detector.

Tell security staff if your children have any specific needs so they can work with you and them. 

If needs be go to the front of the queue to pre-warn the staff while the rest of your family remains in the queue so the staff are ready when they get to the front of the queue.

Some airports offer badges, lanyards and bracelets to show your child has an invisible disability but they don’t have to wear them – you can wear that for them if you need to. 

Contact your airport prior to your holiday to find out what support they can offer you in this area. 

If you don’t ask, you won’t know!

Remember things change constantly so make sure you contact the airport directly and don’t just rely on information from other families as things may have changed in the weeks since they travelled.

Airport Lounge

The departure lounge at any airport is always a busy bustling place with people rushing around trying to get to their plane on time. 

It’s usually difficult to find somewhere to sit and impossible to get any food without encountering a long queue. 

Again, increasing your stress levels.

Airport lounges can help you with this as they offer a quiet area, usually with a cold buffet and drinks you can help yourself to.  

Ok, the food isn’t fine dining but if you just want a snack then you’ll be well catered for and the kids can usually help themselves to as much as they want.

Free Wi-Fi and magazines will keep the kids busy and there will usually be a TV showing the news and children’s programmes.

Some lounges have individual quiet family rooms so you can sit separately from the other travellers and have your family together in a safe space, these usually have their own TV as well so you can choose what to watch.

Some lounges also offer the option of booking a bedroom which can be useful if you are on a long delay or are waiting on a night flight. 

We have even used one of these rooms when there was no changing places toilet available – there was no hoist but at least we didn’t have to resort to the toilet floor!

Lounges aren’t cheap but if the main thing putting you off travelling is the hustle and bustle of the departure lounge then I think it is money well spent.

Airport Assistance

If you need airport assistance to board or disembark you MUST pre-book this to ensure you get the level of support you need. 

Do this direct with your airline but also contact the airport to make sure they understand your needs. 

Remember that when dealing with your airline you are speaking to call centre staff who may not know exactly how each airport works.

When you are at the airport locate the assistance desk as soon as you arrive, there you will find the staff who can answer your questions should you have any. 

Don’t expect all airport staff to know everything as airports have high staff turnover, special assistance staff have usually had specialist training and know how to help you. 

They are usually more than willing to make sure you get everything you need to reduce your stress levels because it is their job to do so. 


Keep your eyes on the information screens and make your way to the plane as soon as your gate number is showing. 

That way you will have plenty of time to stop at the toilet on the way and will be there in time to board first if you need assistance. 

As soon as you reach the gate approach the boarding staff and explain to them and the cabin crew how you need them to assist you, don’t rely on your airline to have passed it on to them in advance. 

Keep communicating with the staff so you know you will be well looked after. 

Remember that they are trying to manage getting hundreds of people onto the plane on time, so they do run the risk of forgetting you or misunderstanding your needs if you don’t communicate well with them.

More than anything, remember that this is the beginning of your holiday and in a few hours, you will be out of the airport, off the plane and relaxing in paradise!


Things you might like

Check out the GoTo Seat

The product that started it all and changed lives all over the world

Find out more
Survey icon

Will you be going on holiday this summer?

Other articles you might enjoy...

Special Needs

Travelling Abroad with Special Needs

For many families preparing for summer vacations, the internet can be a vital tool…

Special Needs

4 Top Travel Tips for Parents of Kiddos with Special Needs

We recently took our first big trip with both kids, on an airplane, to Florida for…

Special Needs

Special Needs Holidays and Travelling: My Top Tips for Holidays and Days Out

These are my top tips for holidays and days out. Before we start, there are two items…

Survey icon

Public Opinion…

If your child has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy what level of the GMFCS are they?