Summer is here and it inevitably brings a season of travel – family weddings out of town, vacations to the beach or amusement parks. As parents, it is always a challenge to plan entertainments for children, but parents of sensory sensitive children have added challenges. When traveling with your children, remember these tips to help vacations and other trips go smoothly. Bon Voyage!
- Plan Ahead and Rehearse Your Trip – Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. Rehearse parts of the trip that may give your children moments of anxiety. Take your child on short, practice runs on car trips, or visit the airport ahead of time. Walk through the airport and point out things to your child and watch some planes take off and land.
- Travel With Help – Another family member or support person will be invaluable to any parent traveling with children, but especially with sensory challenged kids. The old adage “two heads are better than one” definitely applies here. When things get rough, having an extra person available who can help with baggage, check-ins or even truck-stop bathroom breaks will help things go more smoothly.
- Give Yourself Extra Time – If you’re not in a hurry, the trip will be more enjoyable for all – kids included. Make sure you arrive early for flights. Leave early for car trips also so that you can plan to stop several times to stretch your legs.
- Check into Accommodations for Children – If using commercial transportation, call ahead to see what accommodations are in place for children. Take advantage of anything that may be helpful in keeping your children comfortable and entertained.
- Travel During Sleep Times – Many children have an easier time traveling while they sleep. If possible, plan to leave at night or when your kids are used to taking naps.
- Bring Extra Clothes – Easy access to an extra set of clothes for each child will make getting through any mishaps easier and stress free. Bring a couple extra pairs of SmartKnitKIDS socks since they can sometimes disappear quicker than larger articles of clothing.
- Bring Toys – Pack several small sensory input toys that will keep your children’s attention for longer periods of time. Choose things that are easy to pack and pick up, but also things that your children already enjoy. Good examples are Rubix Cubes, rubber band balls and Play-Doh.
- Electronic Devices – Tablets, phones or other electronic devices provide touch, visual and audio input for children. Remember a set of headphones and a pair of sunglasses to help those sensitive to bright light. Download age-appropriate games ahead of time, or make sure your data plan will be sufficient for your entire trip. You can also bring along a data hotspot.
- Pack Snacks – Plan to bring some healthy snacks. Chewable and high-protein snacks like licorice and beef jerky are great choices, but you should plan things that each child will prefer and enjoy.
- Remain Calm – Don’t let yourself get discouraged with minor setbacks. Take each day in stride and enjoy your trip as best as you can.
Reward yourself for a mission accomplished and announce to your kids, “We are there!” Maybe it will even be before they have asked, “Are we there yet?!”