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Developing an Individualized Travel Plan: Questions to Explore

By Joe Timmons and Vicki Gaylord

Individuals with disabilities who are planning for the vocational, educational, social/recreational, residential and other areas of their lives in the community may also benefit from the development of an individualized travel plan. An individualized travel plan can be part of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), a community support plan or any number of individualized or person-centered plans designed to support self-determination, community participation, and quality of life.

The ultimate goal of an individualized travel plan is to maintain or increase community inclusion by maximizing the ability to travel safely. An individualized travel plan will identify travel needs and goals, travel skills, transportation resources, skill-building and information needs, and financial supports to be used and/or sought. A major premise of the plan should be support for personal choice and self-determination. This means that its content should be based on the individual’s needs, goals, and desires and not solely on what services are currently available.

Below are examples of areas that may be explored and questions that may be asked in developing an individualized travel plan. They may be addressed through conversation with individuals and/or their circles of support, as well as through observation. They are given as suggestions, and are intended to be modified as needed to fit individual situations and to complement other planning processes.

Travel Needs/Requirements

Ascertaining the type and frequency of local travel in which the individual will engage can be one starting point to an individualized travel plan conversation. Questions may include:

Travel Skills

Some individuals may need travel-related skill building. It’s important that formal evaluation as well as support and instruction in this area be provided only by qualified and trained travel instructors. The questions below can identify areas for which the assistance of a travel instructor may be sought. Questions for exploration could include “Can the individual...”:

Support Needs

The individual may require assistance as they travel, and the following questions are examples of areas to discuss in exploring travel options that will fit the person’s needs:

Financial Supports

Service providers may be more familiar than the transportation user with financial supports available through government or agency programs and their eligibility requirements, and may be able to add other helpful information to the user responses for the suggested questions below:

Community Resources

Knowing about existing transportation resources in the community is an essential part of planning. Service providers and family members may wish to gather information about options to supplement the knowledge of the individual about the following:

Goals, Needs, and Resources Chart

The information gathered through the preceding questions can be compiled into a chart such as the sample one below (Figure 1) that summarizes the individual’s travel goals, needs that must be met to achieve those goals, and resources that can be accessed or explored to meet those needs. For each identified goal, there may be needs for further skill-building, for obtaining additional information, for using existing supports or locating new supports, and/or for identifying costs that must be met and possible sources of funds. In each of those instances where needs are identified, the specifics of that need and available or potential resources to meet it can be written on the chart.

A chart such as this can be incorporated into an individual’s personal planning resource manual or portfolio and be referred to, reviewed, and updated on an ongoing basis by the individual and their circle of support. It can also be shared with new service providers and support staff. The outcome of such a plan, whatever specific form it takes, should be to support the individual to live the life they choose in a community to which they have access through the meeting of their travel needs.

Figure 1: Sample Goals, Needs and Resources Chart
Travel Goals Skill building needs/resources? Information needs/resources? Support needs/resources Financial needs/resources
1. Travel outdoors in familiar areas with simple street crossings (between bus stop and work, mall, recreation center, home)

Learn to navigate between identified areas with help from travel instructor

Need to find local travel instructor Need support staff to help find travel instructor, review with me how these goals are going May need funding resources for travel instruction
2. Ride the bus on regular routes (from home to work, mall, recreation center, and back) Learn to ride bus with help from travel instructor

Need to find local travel instructor.
Need bus schedules

  Need bus pass – get from case manager


Information in the Travel Needs/Requirements, Support Needs, and Community Transportation Resources sections was adapted in part from: United We Ride. (2005). Building an individual transportation plan. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved 7/15/05 from

Joe Timmons is Project Coordinator with the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He may be reached at 612/624-5659 or Vicki Gaylord is Publications Coordinator at the institute.


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Retrieved from the Web site of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota ( Citation: Gaylord, V., Abeson, A., Bosk, E., Timmons, J., & Lazarus, S. (Eds.). (2005). Impact: Feature Issue on Meeting Transportation Needs of Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities 18(3). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. Available at

The PDF version of this Impact, with photos and graphics, is also online at

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