Where To Stay When Traveling With Medically Complex Kids

Your lodging is your home away from home. A hotel, cruise ship, vacation rental, or staying with family or friends can each work well. Knowing how the location meets your unique needs helps prepare you for potential challenges.

Written by Becky Oakley

Becky is a Family Nurse Practitioner who has dedicated her life and nursing career to caring for children with life-changing diagnoses and disabilities. Becky adores her six children, who inspire her daily. Brades’ Place is named after her medically complex son, Brady, who taught her that children with unique traits do amazing things every day.

Published June 2, 2022



Pros and Cons

Consider your child’s unique needs when planning what lodging works best for you. For children with a lot of equipment, where packing and unpacking often would be challenging, consider central lodging. For children with difficulty traveling in the car, consider lodging closer to your activities. Also, think through your home routine and consider how your routines will change based on accommodation changes. Choose lodging that will meet your child’s needs and work best for your family and travels.



Being able to utilize the whole lodging facility is important and a direct call is the easiest way to get the most accurate information on accessibility. Explain your situation and ask for specific details about room accessibility, if there are elevators nearby, if there is a fridge in the room (medication, food), if the bathrooms and showers are wheelchair friendly, if there are ramps to access the pool and dining areas, etc.


Staying with family

Staying with family can strengthen lifelong relationships and make meaningful memories with people you love. Open communication is key to being a good house guest; take the lead in a conversation about your child’s needs, listen to your host’s questions and concerns, and express your gratitude and excitement to be staying with them.


Shipping ahead

Sometimes shipping supplies ahead saves precious space and simplifies the day of travel. Call ahead to discuss this with your hotel, identify a manager’s name to put on the package, and confirm the address. Ship with a tracking code and once it arrives call the hotel and confirm where the package will be stored so that you can easily find it when you arrive.



What to bring

Pack extension cords, power strips, personal and medical device power cords, and your child’s favorite items for comfort and fun. Bring anything that helps your child feel at home!


Before you arrive

Call ahead on the day of your arrival to share your excitement to stay at their facility and let them know of your unique needs (accessibility, fridge, pre-shipped supplies, etc.) so that they have time to resolve any challenges before you arrive. Explain your medical needs and ask them to change all the bedding, including the mattress cover and bedspread. Asking for extra towels, pillows, and blankets might be helpful for positioning, changing station, etc.


Setting Up/Moving

In Taking time to unpack and set things up will help you know where to find supplies, identify any missing items, and help family members feel at home.


Bed accommodations

Portable safety bed rails can be temporarily added to a bed to provide for safety. Safety sleep tents are perfect to replace your pediatric safety sleeper at home. Use wedge pillows to help with positional needs for reflux, aspiration, or respiration.

Hotel Script


If you are staying at a hotel, you may want to call before making reservations and ask a few questions. Here are a few things you may want to ask about:

When calling the hotel ahead of time introduce yourself, your child, and their needs; and explain that you are looking for information about an upcoming stay.

Ask about facility accommodations based on your needs, such as wheelchair accessibility to rooms, showers, and the pool. Ask if there is an in-room fridge for medications, an onsite restaurant, if any parts of the hotel are not accessible, etc.

Ask about local medical services, such as pharmacies, children’s hospitals, and emergency medical services. This is especially important if the location is rural, or at a resort that is removed from city infrastructure (such as a mountain or beach resort).

If you would like to ship some supplies ahead, let them know and explain why it would be helpful. Confirm the shipping address, and obtain a specific manager’s name to include on the outside of your package.

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