Travelling with your kids can be an adventure (and sometimes stressful!).
For families who have kids with special needs, travelling often comes with an additional set of challenges. Here are some tips to keep the kids entertained, having fun and ready to make some new memories together!
Top 10 Travel Tips for Kids:
1. Create your own busy bag to help kids stay busy in the car or on the plane. Fill it with small trinkets, stickers, crayons, fidget toys, craft supplies, new and novel toys, books, Play-Doh, dollar-store finds, etc. We have some great sensory ideas on our Pinterest boards.
2. If appropriate for your child, use an iPad for some quiet entertainment on a long road trip or plane ride. Speak to your child’s providers to see if there are any apps they can recommend.
3. Let’s the kids be the DJs! Create a vacation playlist for the family with song suggestions from the kids.
4. Prepare your kids for the trip! Social stories (here is one example for a plane ride) and giving kids a heads-up about transitions and processes can make your journey much smoother. There are several books that help your child learn more about what to expect. We like this book about "My First Plane Ride".
5. Switch up seating arrangements partway through a long trip if you can. This can help reduce boredom and give everyone a new point of view.
6. Scavenger hunts or “I Spy” can be fun for the whole family! Make travel-themed scavenger hunt lists for kids to check off while driving or waiting for the airplane. Include things like yellow luggage, an escalator, a pilot, someone wearing shorts, a travel pillow, etc. You can have your kids help you prepare the list before your trip — it will stimulate their imagination and help motivate them to find the items. Check out these ideas for car games.
7. Make sure to pack some comfort items, whether it’s a favourite stuffed friend, blanket or pillow. Soothing or favourite sensory toys will go a long way in unfamiliar spots.
8. If you’re heading on a plane, don’t stress! Read these important airport tips for kids, including those with special needs from Today’s Parent’s Special Needs Parenting Blog.
9. Pack a portable DVD player with all your favourite movies. Consider buying a new special movie as a new surprise just for the trip!
10. Don’t forget the snacks! Nothing keeps kids entertained like some fish-shaped crackers, cheese, cut-up fruit or carrot sticks.
Wherever you’re heading, we wish you and your family a happy and safe trip!
“We prepare our daughter as much as possible for what to expect when travelling. We read her a social story about airports and what to expect, we bring her comfort objects (her bear and blanket are in her backpack) and we pack colouring books, pencils and plain paper. We also bring her Nintendo and one of the brushes she uses for Willbarger brushing protocol. Gum too, of course.”
Paula, mom and member of our Facebook community.