What Families Wish Destinations Knew About Traveling With Children Who Are Neurodiverse

Every traveler encounters obstacles when planning and booking a trip, and those faced by families with children who have autism, ADHD and/or other types of neurodiversity are unique. For destinations to adequately address any barriers these families encounter, they must first understand the motivators and considerations of this audience. MMGY Travel Intelligence’s new report, Portrait of Family TravelTM: Autism, ADHD and Neurodiversity, delves into the preferences as well as the considerations at each step of the trip planning journey for this underrepresented travel segment.

Similar to other groups who have individualized needs during travel, over half of this segment relies on recommendations from family and friends who can give firsthand information about a destination, accommodation or attraction. While some of their trip planning habits are similar to mainstream travel segments, they have key differentiators that directly affect their choice of transportation to and from the destination, lodging, activities and the selection of the destination itself.

Three-quarters of these families are greatly concerned with the busyness and overcrowding of a destination or attraction, and their perceptions of this factor influence their decisions to visit – or avoid – certain places. Overall they want to get from a vacation what most families want: a chance to make fun family memories while relaxing and unwinding from the stress of daily life. However, the process of making this happen looks different for these families and can be more complicated. Any steps a destination can take to minimize the obstacles and provide thoughtful accommodations for these families goes a long way toward enticing them to visit.

And this often begins with online resources and representation and extends to specialized staff training and on-site resources, like low-sensory zones. Two-thirds of respondents noted that photos of rooms, restaurant menus and other visual representations of the destination or attraction are important to help them determine a good fit for their family and also allow them to familiarize themselves with the area before they even arrive.

Families traveling with children who are neurodiverse like to revisit places they’ve been before – but over two-thirds are looking to visit somewhere new. With an average leisure trip budget of over $4,000 a year, this segment is excited and willing to get out there and explore.

What does this mean for the travel industry? It highlights a pressing need to adapt—more inclusive marketing, better-informed staff, and thoughtful accommodations could all make a significant difference. These changes aren’t just good practice; they’re a pathway to tapping into a market segment that is both underserved and eager for opportunities.

The full report of the Portrait of Family Travel delves deeper into these insights, offering a blueprint for how the travel industry can evolve to meet the needs of families with neurodiverse children more effectively, making travel a more accessible and enjoyable experience for everyone.

All proceeds from the sale of this study will benefit Camp Encourage, a dedicated initiative that provides meaningful experiences to campers on the autism spectrum, helping them build the knowledge, courage, and skills needed to be empowered participants in the community.