Traveling with Autism? Tips for Successful Road Trips

Every summer questions about car travel seem to top our e-mail inquiries. So, naturally thought I’d share this one as the ‘Ask Margalit’ question of the month.

Traveling with Autism? Tips for Road Trips:Door Mirror

 

Dear Margalit,

Later this summer for our family vacation we are taking a road trip across five Southern States! I am looking forward to it but also dreading it because our 9-year-old son with autism struggles with being in the car for any length of time.
His older siblings do better, but I guess I need to hear the benefits of driving as flying is not an option this time, and my head is spinning.
Do you have any tips or pointers for me that could make the journey more bearable? I would appreciate it.
Thanks in advance,
Sami

Dear Sami,
Let me say right off the bat that traveling by car is one of my preferred options.
I love that I can take along more supplies than on a flight, and I can stop when and where I need to.
If you plan the navigation of the unfamiliar roads in advance, you could have a wonderful holiday to remember.

  • I suggest you use an App or road map to mark off the location of restrooms and parks along the route, as well as chain diners and stores where you can stop and restock as necessary.
  • If your son has a favorite stuffed toy, pillow or blanket – bring it along because the familiarity helps lower anxiety levels.
    I like to use a permanent marker to write a phone number or email on belongings in the event of them getting misplaced somewhere.
  • I keep the medicines my son will take every day of the trip, an extra change of clothing and a first-aid kit, in the front, so that I don’t have to dig through all the packed luggage to find it.
  • Having snacks available is necessary. I have noticed that low blood sugar can trigger a meltdown. Of course, if your child has dietary needs, you won’t want to be stopping and looking for special snacks unnecessarily so bring these in a small cooler.
    I never travel without Ziploc bags; you never know when leftovers from a pit-stop can come in handy.
  • Of course, keeping the children entertained is vital. I am a fan of Dollar stores for inexpensive, age-appropriate games and books that don’t have little pieces that can get lost. If your child has a few favorite video games or DVD’s, bring those along and don’t forget to keep the electronic gadgets charged.
  • It’s good to be flexible and make alternative plans if Plan A doesn’t work.
    Old-fashioned car games like “I Spy” can be a useful distraction and you might want to bring a friend, babysitter or grandparent along to help keep your children entertained – space-allowing of course.
  • As a final tip, I will share with you what I call my “Road Warrior Kit” that has saved us many a time. It has a roll of toilet paper, WD40, Duct tape, Wet wipes, Lysol wipes and a flashlight. All of these multi-purpose items come in extremely handy and even necessary at various stops along the way. Your family’s health, safety, hygiene and comfort are so important.

I hope you have a wonderful road trip!
Enjoy making memories with your family.

 

 

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