Traveling Different: How to Enjoy This Years Summer Vacation
According to a recent IBCCES study of families on the spectrum, 87 percent of one thousand parents interviewed said that they have never traveled with their child, yet 93 percent of that subset said they would travel if there were more autism-friendly places to go. Hence, the importance of my upcoming book, Traveling Different: Vacation Strategies for Parents of the Anxious, the Inflexible, and the Neurodiverse, to be released by Rowman & Littlefield in August of 2022 and available now for preorder at major online retailers.
The book is the culmination of over one hundred interviews with mental health professionals such as Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Ellen Littman, Certified Autism Travel Professionals, parents, allies, and advocates, all of whom lent their expertise to open up the world for those who fear venturing out, lest their child gets repeatedly triggered by sensory assaults in unfamiliar territory.
Because the book debuts after the summer travel season is in full swing, here is a preview of some of the tips from its 344 pages.
When introducing the concept of travel:
- Start small. Even a trip to a grocery store, a post office, or a garage sale can be framed as a “tour” and an “adventure.”
- Structure local trips around children’s passions. Find museums, zoos, and aquariums that caters to their special interests.
- An overnight at a friend’s or relative’s house can be a wonderful precursor to a hotel stay. Likewise, setting up a tent in your own backyard before a camping trip. If you’re flying, programs exist that sponsor advance tours of airports from check-in until boarding.
When planning for a specific trip:
- Use a Certified Autism Travel Professional (CATP) to help you plan your vacation. Many have neurodiverse children themselves, and their training will help you plan the perfect holiday for your special needs.
- Pre-plan and explain as much as possible to your child in advance. Create predictability and a frame of reference by watching videos of your mode of transport, hotel, and destination. Read picture books together that depict favorite characters and their travels.
- Whenever possible, create Social Stories and role-play different situations.
- Visual schedules give children some stability by creating a roadmap of each day’s activities.
- Get children’s buy-in by giving them options (all pre-approved by you, of course) regarding daily activities, daily outfits, and must-have toys. • Schedule breaks in your daily itinerary for downtime.
- Research what “autism-friendly” and “autism-certified” labels mean and what’s required to earn them.
- Introduce unfamiliar items at home that may be encountered when traveling, like sand or wearing layers of clothes for travel to cooler climates.
- Consider whatever measures might be necessary to keep children safe and how to locate them again in case of separation.
- Pack for comfort and bring whatever’s necessary to keep children occupied and well-fed. Pack the soaps and shampoos they’re used to and clothes that still harbor the familiar scent of home.
Dawn M. Barclay
Family Travel/Special Needs Travel Contributing Editor Insider Travel Report
Author: “Traveling Different: Vacation Strategies for Parents of the Anxious, the Inflexible, and the Neurodiverse” to be released by Rowman & Littlefield on August 15th, 2022 www.travelingdifferent.com
More Travel Tips
- 10 Things Every Parent of a Special Needs Child Should Have Before Traveling
- Encourage Traveling for All Without Limits
- Traveling with Special Dietary Need
- Traveling Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs
- Kids with Special Needs and Family Travel
- Ways to Save Space When Packing for a Trip
- Explore and Discover Our World With the Help of These Apps
- More than a Diaper Bag: Practical Tips for Car Travel with a Special Needs Baby
- 7 Perks to Traveling with Your Special Needs Child
- Finding GFCF Baked Goods While You are Traveling
- Where to Purchase Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) Foods and Some Favorite Brands
- Travel Tips for Parents of Children with Sensory Integration Issues
- Avoiding Meltdowns During Theme Park Vacations
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2022 Magazine