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  • Writer's pictureErica Livingston

Special needs travel tips

Hey y’all!

We just got back from our second big road trip of the year. For this one, we were gone for 10 days and on the road for over half of those days. As y’all know, change in an special needs child’s routine is not easy. Autism in particular can making traveling difficult. However, it can be done!!

Let me start by saying we have been traveling since David was born. Travel is a huge part of our lives and we didn’t intend on changing that after David’s diagnosis. David is probably one of the best kiddos ever, though, so we have it down to a science with him. I am in now way claiming traveling with a special needs child is easy, but maybe some of my tips can help!

  • Pack safe foods! Making sure your autistic child has access to safe food will take a lot of the eating stress away!

  • Allow them unwind time. We went over 16 hours away and had to do it in several days. We made sure to be settled and relaxing several hours before bedtime each night to ensure David had time to get his sensory needs met.

  • Bring along their favorite things. Of course, not all of their favorite things. But David loves animals, so we brought a few with us!

  • Be pro electronics!!! David’s tablet is our savior when we travel.

  • Plan stops to break up the driving. We try to find parks along the way, but early enough so he can get energy out then pass out for a little nap while we get the rest of our trip in.

  • Find places of interest to take them. I think keeping an autistic child stimulated just enough, but not overly is key. We found places to take David, like farms with cows and zoos, that he can go wild and enjoy, but is still calm and not too much.

  • Enforce boundaries!!! I cannot stress this enough. We were traveling to see family and we made sure to lay out our boundaries with David beforehand. Family was absolutely amazing and their cooperation with our boundaries made the trip so much better for us AND David!

  • Have patience. This is a hard one. Give yourself grace. I lost my temper several times. Being cooped up in a vehicle is not easy. Allow yourself (and your child) to meltdown and then move on.

  • If your child has a safe show, like David does with Curious George, consider bringing a fire stick or some form of smart device. We have smart TVs at home, but most hotels don’t. We bring a fire stick so David can unwind with his show.

I’m not perfect and not the perfect mother, but I do feel like I have traveling down 😂. I hope these road trip tips help in some way!

Share any tips you have in the comments!!!


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