How to survive traveling with a special needs child

Traveling in itself can be very stressful. Traveling alone is super stressful. Traveling with your significant other can elevate that stress level even more. Traveling with kids just plain sucks sometimes; but traveling with a child with special needs takes stress to an entirely different level! I am generally a very organized person and plan any trips way ahead. This lowers the risk of anxiety and panic attacks for both, my son and my husband.

But it takes a lot of planning.

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One of the first things I do when I know we will be traveling is to determine how long of a trip we are taking.

This helps in figuring out what I need to pack and how much.

Key items I pack

  • Clothes
    • This is a very critical part of my packing list. Elijah is very sensitive to the clothing he wears. So, I have to make sure that I have specific pants, shoes, shirts and sweaters. If I happen to pack a pair of shoes he doesn’t tolerate, we may very well end up in the store trying to find him a new pair. This adds extra stress to an already stressful situation. And that is why planning is essential for packing clothes.
  • Sensory and Special toys
    • Boy, have these saved my sanity so many times! I am not joking with you when I say that about 1/4 of all the stuff we pack is his sensory/favorite toys. I’m talking Legos, K’nex, Mr. Teddy, more Legos, anxiety bottle, Kindle. Oh, and did I mention Legos, yet? These are amazing, not to only keep him busy, but to lessen his anxiety. It’s always a delicate balance trying to keep my husband’s and our son’s anxiety levels at bay. But these toys really do help our little one.
  • Snacks
    • Oh goodness. If I ever forget to pack snacks, we are in trouble! When Elijah gets hangry, he is just about unbearable. He will become extremely whiny and certain words or actions will throw him into either a tantrum or full-blown meltdown.

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  • Books
    • Going on a trip does not give him a total free pass. Whether it is a short day trip or extended trip, Elijah will take multiple books with him to read.
  • Movies
    • When all else fails. Movies have been a great way to lower Elijah’s anxiety level. It gives him something to concentrate on without having extra sensory input. It seems like he gets sort of a tunnel vision when he watches movies while riding in the backseat. Which, to an extent, is a good thing. Because it doesn’t allow for all the extra sensory input to distract him and increase his anxiety levels.
  • Medicine
    • Probably the most important thing that needs packing; aside from special toys. Everything, except medications and special toys, can be bought wherever we go. So, it is important to make sure that these two things are packed.
  • Sanity
    • Check to make sure you still have a shred of sanity. Otherwise, things can go downhill VERY fast! =)

The Travel Check List I am sharing with you today is down-right crazy simple. Personally, I prefer simplicity. Let’s face it, should we really make our lives more complicated with something that technically is supposed to simplify it?

How do you attempt keeping your sanity when traveling?

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