Planning a Trip with an Autistic Child? Start Small
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
As a parent of an autistic child, I can tell you numerous scenarios where we have needed to start small. It’s been baby steps when it comes to new foods, new activities, and new places. So, why should it be any different when it comes to vacations? I understand that you want to get away from home. I also understand that you are afraid of how your autistic child will react to a new destination. This is why I always recommend starting small when it comes to planning a trip with your autistic child. I can help with this, as well as the next steps when it is time for a longer vacation, so contact me today.
Start Small While Planning a Trip with an Autistic Child
When it is time to plan your first trip with your autistic child, start small. Consider what hotels are located in the area you live in. There is usually one hotel that everyone says they would love to stay at if they didn’t live close by. If you do have one of those hotels, go online and book a one-night or two-night stay.
I recommend one or two nights because remember, you are keeping things small. You are simply giving your autistic child a taste of what it is like to stay away from home and sleep in a different bed. And this way, if it doesn’t go well, you can easily go home and try again another time. When the weekend of your “vacation” arrives, pack your suitcase like you would for any other trip. This is the time to determine what your autistic child will do for their time away from home. If your child watches a show at a certain time every day, make sure you have a tablet or laptop. And if your child needs a lovey, pack it.
Once you are packed and ready, make the drive to the hotel and check-in. When you get to your room, allow your child to take it all in. Depending on your autistic child, they may sit down to look around or they may walk around looking at every inch of the space.
Almost every hotel has a swimming pool. If the hotel you booked your weekend stay at does, go down and do a little swimming. This can be either before or after dinner. It is usually best to have dinner at the hotel, so you don’t need to introduce your child to yet another new space. But if your child has a favorite restaurant nearby, feel free to go there instead!
Bedtime might be a little different at the hotel because it is a new bed. This is where your child’s lovey and even their favorite show can be helpful. After a good night’s sleep, you and your child will be ready for breakfast. The breakfast areas in hotels can be loud and overwhelming. It is better to order room service and enjoy a quiet breakfast in your room.
Since you are on vacation, the daytime hours can be filled with almost anything. If you have a zoo nearby, you can go there for the day. Children’s museums, a local beach, or another attraction you have never been to are other options for your day of fun.
You can head back to the hotel in the afternoon, if you are spending a second night, for a nap. Or if your autistic child doesn’t want to nap, you can all go swimming once again. It is important to follow your child’s cues. Dinner can be at the hotel once again and don’t be afraid to order room service. After check-out in the morning, you can always head to a local park before going home. This will allow your child to get some extra energy out from the weekend before getting back into their normal routine.
The Results from Your Weekend Trip with Your Autistic Child
I recommend giving yourself a few days when you return home to reflect on what happened during your weekend trip with your autistic child. This will allow you to calmly consider why certain things went wrong if they did. Once you have thoughtfully gone over what went right and wrong on your “vacation”, consider what changes you would make for the future. Remember, this was a lesson that you needed, so you can eventually take longer trips with your child. You can use this information for all those amazing autism-friendly vacations you will be taking in the future!
Are you ready to start planning a quick trip with your autistic child? Or have you accomplished that and are ready for a longer trip? Click here to contact me today and see how I can make your travel plans come true!