Traveling with Autism – Top Road Trip Tips
Traveling by bus, train or plane has advantages but there is one thing they all have in common that could pose a problem for some parents. You must adhere to their schedule, which is subject to change and long delays. For parents traveling with autism, this can be a problem. Getting stuck in an airport with a bored and overstimulated autistic child is no fun for anyone.
That’s why many parents find driving themselves to be the easiest form of travel.
When you pack everyone in the SUV or van and take a road trip, you have complete control. You’re free to stop as often as you like and to make last-minute changes if needed. Traveling by car also gives you added quality time together as a family. This is the type of flexibility many parents of ASD children need when traveling.
There are also other bonuses to road-tripping it. Sometimes, it’s easier to open up and discuss things you wouldn’t normally talk about when you’re traveling down the open road. Of course, as with any travel, preparation is the key to success but it’s not the only thing you can do to ease the stress when traveling with a child on the spectrum. Check out my top Road Trip Tips below.
Once all the preparations are made, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your travels:
- Pick a time that is good for your family to start your road trip. For some, that will mean getting up early and having breakfast on the road. For others, it may mean heading out after lunch or driving through the night. Choose a time that works best for your family.
- Keep a positive attitude while on the road. Things don’t always go according to plan when traveling. You might get caught up in a traffic jam, the hotel may rent out your room or you might even take the wrong exit and get lost for a while. The main thing is that you always remain positive even when things take a turn for the worse. Your child is going to follow your lead, so be sure to set a good example.
- Use this time to bond and connect with each other. Your road trip begins the minute you pull out of your driveway, not when you reach your destination. Instead of stressing over being on the road and rushing to get where you’re going, enjoy the ride. Take your time and talk about the scenery, landmarks or anything else interesting you see along the way.
- Take some travel games, activity books, music, iPad and other forms of entertainment for those moments when everyone starts getting a little restless. When choosing activities to play in the car, don’t bring anything too distracting. Games that beep or make any other annoying sound will begin to wear on your nerves after a while.
- Each time you stop, pull out your map. Go over it with the kids and mark off how far you’ve come and then talk about how much further you have to go. It’s a fun activity that the family can do together that will ease tension and make the trip more enjoyable.
- Keep your eyes open for dehydration or car sickness. Restock your cooler as often as needed to ensure everyone stays hydrated and keep an eye on the temperature inside the vehicle. Getting too hot, traveling on a curvy road for long periods or a number of different things can cause car sickness without much warning, especially for a child on the spectrum.
- Praise your child for good behavior while on the road. Rewarding your child for doing well encourages him to be on his best behavior. You can offer a special snack or toy in addition to verbally praising him for a job well done.
The main thing to keep in mind when on the road is to relax and make the most of your time together. This is a special time for you and your family as you explore new places and create new experiences that will shape your future. Use these road trip tips to help you get the most from every moment you’re on the road.