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What to pack for special needs travel?
Special needs travel can be challenging, but the right tools can go a long way to make it more manageable. And remember, the travel itself is just a short part of your vacation. If you can manage the plane, train or automobile part, your reward can be some peace of mind.
So, what to pack? For the actual travel, I recommend putting together a sensory survival kit that fits your loved one’s needs. There are two additional items that I often carry to hand out to those in neighboring seats.
For you, for your neighbors on the plane, for anyone who wants to try to take a nap with a loud kid in the house. I like the foam ones that are “heavy duty” but you can use whatever type you like.
An autism card is a small note that can say for you what you otherwise might need to repeat over and over again. It might say something like – “thank you for your patience, I live with autism.”
Unfortunately, the last person we had to hand one to was a flight attendant (who was clearly having a rough day herself). But we like having these on hand to help explain a situation faster than we may be able to speak.
Once you arrive, depending on where you are staying, you may want a few more items on hand. At the Piece of Mind Retreat, we will provide several of these items to make it that much easier to settle into your vacation.
At home, we use this style, which is screwed into the wall. You will also find them in our home-away-from-home at the Piece of Mind Retreat. On the go, if those are not available, we choose the flat, rigid plastic style which are more difficult to pry out of the wall for him (and for us!).
This small, but mighty device can be used to keep your loved one with special needs in – or out – of most rooms with typical doors. If you mount it high enough, it can provide a nearly-out-of-sight latch that props the door open a few inches. It does not close fully, allowing air and light to pass through, and to prevent fingers from being smashed. There will be several available at the Piece of Mind Retreat to use as you like.
Pack more of each medication than you think you’ll need, and be sure to put them all in your carry-on luggage. If your flight is delayed, but not cancelled, then it is unlikely you will have access to your checked luggage during the delay. If certain pills need to be split, then do that in advance, so as to avoid the need to pack a pill splitter with a sharp blade.
And if your vacation involves water -(and all good vacations should!) – then you will need to think about special needs swimwear.
After a lot of trial and error, we have had good luck with this swim diaper. The youth version is thoughtfully sized separately to account for the less-developed (or non-existent?) buttocks of many pre-adolescents. The fabric is soft on the inside, and durable on the outside. The Velcro is strong and adjustable. We do add a traditional pair of swim trunks over the SoSecure to add an extra layer of wiggle-proofness, and for a more age-appropriate appearance. Want to save 30% on your first pair? Click here and use the code sosecure30 at checkout.
I hope you have a better idea of what to pack to make your next special needs vacation more successful – maybe it will be to the Piece of Mind Retreat.
Want some tips to plan your next vacation – maybe even to the Piece of Mind Retreat? Click here to download our Ultimate Autism Vacation Planner.
5 Essential Tips for Airplane Travel
What to Put in Your Sensory Survival Kit