New settings, new people, new food, new activities. If you or someone in your family has autism, the thought of this can be daunting. Vacations take a lot of thinking and planning for individuals with autism, so hopefully the reminders below can help you choose which details to focus on to make your vacation as smooth and enjoyable as it can possibly be when these circumstances exist.
Choosing the right location:
There are so many choices of places to spend your summer vacation, and narrowing down the possibilities can be difficult at times. Location is a huge factor when it comes to vacationing with an autistic individual, so choosing where to go before the trip even starts is critical.
Don’t go too far
If you choose somewhere relatively close to home, the travel process will be much more manageable, and less daunting. If you need or desire to go somewhere far from home for any particular reason, try taking a practice trip somewhere close by before. Practice packing up, preparing for the drive, thinking about the trip and other relevant components to your trip. That way, you’ll be taking baby-steps towards acclimating your family for the big vacation.
Take advantage of the great outdoors
For individuals with autism, hotels and resorts full of strangers can provoke extra challenges. If you have your choice of any location, try taking a camping trip or something similar with a calm atmosphere. Camping can be good for engaging with family and friends on a deep level without the stressors of being surrounded by large crowds and noises.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect location for your trip, take a look at these reminders to help you best prepare for what is to come.
Create an itinerary and discuss it in advance
While you can’t plan for everything, and of course, vacations are often full of surprises, it is important to plan as much as you can for whatever may come your way. Create a visual calendar that outlines how long the trip will last and the main events and activities that you will be participating in. This planning will keep the tough surprises to the minimum.
Comfort comes first
Whether it is purchasing comfortable clothing, familiar snacks or favorite movies for travel entertainment, make sure to ease the anxiety of traveling to new places by keeping things comfortable whenever possible. This is doable by making a list in advance of the essentials needed to achieve the highest levels of comfort.
During the trip:
Forget what people think
The bad news is that things might not always go as planned and tantrums or struggles might arise. The good news is that on vacation you are surrounded by people you will probably never see again. You should never be worrying what people think of you or your autistic family member, but on vacation it should be even easier not to worry. If a tantrum arises, focus on problem solving and managing rather than on what the strangers around you are looking at. Remember that everyone has bad days and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
There is so much summer fun up ahead, and your vacation is sure to be full of unforgettable adventures. You deserve to explore and relax just like anyone else, so make sure to keep these tips in mind and make happy memories with the people you care about most this summer.