Travel is an amazing way to broaden the horizons of young ones. And special needs kids are no different. It might seem like a daunting task. But with some preparation, you can successfully travel with special needs kids. Below are six tips for having a memorable and enjoyable journey.
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Planning, Planning and some more Planning
You cannot plan enough, in my opinion. Often children with special needs can suffer from anxiety and need to feel safe and secure. Travel is a way to help them step out of their comfort zones. But it needs to be done in a way that they can handle. I find that involving them in the planning is a great way to achieve this. You could:
ask your child to help with the planning of the route for a road trip.
ask them to tick things off a packing checklist.
have a calendar with days to count before leaving for the trip.
let kids decide where they want to stop for a meal along the way.
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Heavy on the Snacks
Difficult situations can sometimes be resolved with a good, healthy snack. Travel can upset a regular eating routine. And this can negatively affect moods. But by packing some healthy snacks, you can mitigate the grumps. It's important to pack healthy, easy to eat snacks that are low in sugar and complex carbs. I usually pack fruit, dried fruit for something sweet, nuts, jerky, natural popcorn and chips, gluten-free crackers, rice cakes and natural peanut butter and lots and lots of water.
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Entertainment Overload
If your child struggles with attention or sitting still for long periods of time, then it's a good idea to pack lots and lots of fun things to do. You could download some movies or let them play games. It's also fun to play board games, read, draw, do LEGO or play games that involve spotting things outside. Sometimes too much screen time can cause kids to go a bit bonkers, so you might want to change it up a bit. And if you're on a road trip and you're stopping, try and plan for a place that has somewhere they can run around and let off some steam.
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Going for Comfort
An uncomfortable child is going to be a grumpy child. Obviously, comfort might not be so easy when you're flying or driving far. But by taking comfort blankets or pillows, they're bound to be more relaxed. You could also try for an upgrade on your flight, if possible. Being comfortable also means wearing clothes that are cool or warm enough. It's an idea to take extra clothes in case of emergencies.
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Lots of Patience
A trip can be a huge undertaking for a special needs child. This is especially true if they suffer from anxiety. So traveling with them may require a lot of patience and love. Try and accommodate them as much as possible. And be their advocate too. It's OK to tell people that your child has special needs and that they might be struggling with the trip. I find that people are much more understanding now. And if they're not, then it's also OK to throw a fit!
Travel with Special Needs Kids means Going with the Flow if all Else Fails
I know that I've said that planning is key. If you have all the tools to keep your child happy and calm, then you're much more likely to travel well. That being said, if your child has a meltdown and just cannot manage the trip, then try and go with the flow. Remaining calm is the best thing that you can do. Try and talk them through it, let them do something that they enjoy and also give them a healthy snack.
Traveling with special needs kids can be a wonderful experience. But it does take some planning. Make sure that you have everything you need to entertain your child and to keep them comfortable. It's also a good idea to pack lots of healthy snacks to keep them happy and to even out bad moods. Above all else, remain calm and be their advocate. Your child is probably stepping out of their comfort zone in a big way. And they need your support, love, and patience. Throw the itinerary out the window and just make sure your child is looked after.
Do you have any tips? How do you travel with special needs kids?
About the Author
Charlotte Jones - My Little Home School
Charlotte is a work-at-home-mom and blogger who also homeschools her special needs twin boys. She lives in a small town by the sea, and loves spending time at home or out and about in nature. My Little Home School is a blog about homeschooling, special needs and mom life.