When you, the caregiver, have to pack up and travel by car for a long journey with your loved one who has special needs, we understand that visiting a new city can be a stressful endeavor.
Packing everything you need–while trying to keep everyone content–is a full-time job. That doesn’t mean you have to dread traveling! Whether you’re driving hours away for a doctor’s appointment or making time for that all-too-rare family vacation, consider these 5 tips to help you make your trip more manageable:
1. Map it Out
This may be a no-brainer, but being prepared goes a long way. Learn your route before beginning your trip. Note rest stops along the way so there isn’t a long stretch on the road with no pit-stops available. Check out the surrounding area of your route for any national forests or mountainous areas where cell phone service may be in and out. Being prepared for the journey will leave you at ease, along with all of your passengers.
We all know that things will not go as planned, no matter how well we prepared. That said, if you are prepared, those last minute “emergencies” don’t have to turn into a fire drill. When we think through, even for a moment, what might happen, and what is most important, we can better prepare for what will happen… and it will. Avoid the situation when you need to quickly grab something, like medication or an extra change of clothes, and you realize it’s at the bottom of the suitcase, under everything you just packed? Organize while you pack based on your needs. Make sure what you need the most is easiest to reach in case there’s an emergency. To avoid as many hiccups along the way, consider packing an “in the car bag” with all of your essentials, like paper towels, wipes, and maybe even some candy for bribery.
3. Pack a Cooler
Road trips are an adventure, and you don’t always know what’s ahead. A flat tire, a wrong turn, or even a bathroom break can throw the whole plan off course. Be prepared with a cooler of snacks. Things like string cheese, juice boxes, yogurt, and fruit can help fuel your family without making a big mess in the car. If your route has scenic views and you have some time to spare, consider taking a break with a family picnic. This will save you money and give everyone a nice break from being the car.
4. Keep Calm And Happy
No pressure here, right? Just make sure everyone in your car is content for the ENTIRE road trip. No, it’s not easy. While this may seem impossible, do what you can to help keep your loved ones occupied.
- Many children can find loads of entertainment from a tablet that has games or shows. With comfortable headphones, this is always a great option for long car rides. Make sure everything is charged and ready to use.
- If you are traveling with a child who has sensory issues, do you have peaceful, soothing music that calms everyone down at the ready?
- Always consider bringing their favorite toy from home. Maybe it’s a stuffed animal, maybe it’s five unsharpened pencils. Familiarity is comforting in an ever-changing setting and be a calming influence.
5. Remember, It’s a Round Trip
You’ve read all the tips, you’ve packed the car, you’ve reached your destination. Don’t forget that you will eventually have to drive back. You will most likely run into similar issues on your route back home. Make sure you pack your cooler, charge your devices, and refresh your memory on your route.
You WILL encounter many bumps along the road, some roads have more bumps than others, but don’t let that discourage you. With some good planning, your trips will become more manageable, if not a little bit easier!
When you have to travel with a loved one with special needs, what are some of your most useful tips? Share them with us we want to learn from you.
NOTE: This feature cites information made from Friendship Circle.