Planning Stress-Free Road Trips with Children with Special Needs
Everyone loves vacations and going to new places, but the journey to get there can be a hard and long one. This idea is especially true when traveling with a special needs child. Here are some helpful hints to make your family’s next road trip a little smoother.
Renting the Right Car
If you decide to rent a car for your journey, make sure to call ahead if you need special car. Many rental companies have wheel chair accessible rentals, but they need to be arranged 48 hours in advance. These cars are usually available at no extra cost and can include hand controls, transfer boards, and swivel seats to make the trip easier.
Packing Things To Do
No matter how long the car trip is, be sure to pack many things to appeal to and entertain your child with special needs. You should pack several books, easy car or travel games, and electronic devices, such as portable DVD players, iPads, MP3 players, and a laptop. Do not forget to bring several DVDs or CDs, as well as earphones and charging cables suitable for the car and your hotel room. While it may seem like you have to bring your whole play room to keep your child with special needs happy and occupied, this option is better than having several melt downs when you are many miles away from home.
Packing Enough Snacks and Water
A hungry or dehydrated child is definitely not a happy one. Keep a variety of healthy snacks and chilled water on hand to combat hunger, boredom, and meltdowns. Avoid sugary treats that will only cause more behavioral issues.
Planning for Breaks
Map out enough stops for bathroom breaks and play time breaks. Many rest stops have a nice grassy area to play in, so bring a ball or a jump rope to get your child moving and burning pint up energy. Plan for each stop to be 20-30 minutes, depending on the time of day. Letting your child be active during these breaks will also help them stay calm in the car and perhaps even take a nap or two.
Other Helpful Hints
Bring comfort items for your child to help combat fussiness and irritability. If you are traveling in warmer weather, bring a cooler of ice water and soft ice packs. The soft ice packs can be wrapped in a towel and draped over your child’s neck to keep them cool if they are getting too warm. Also, it may be a good idea to pack several changes of clothes. Change your child’s clothes at rest stops to help him or her feel refreshed and comfortable.
Traveling with special needs children can be difficult, especially if the trip is long. Always be prepared and triple check your packing list. Find ways to keep your child happy during the whole trip, and you and the rest of the family will have a more enjoyable drive.
Photo by journeyguy