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Sensory-Friendly Travel Tips: Making Adventures Accessible for All

Updated:

3/22/2023

Making Adventures Available to Everyone: Sensory-Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling can be an exciting and enriching experience, but for individuals with autism and their families, it can also pose unique challenges. The unfamiliar environments, sensory stimuli, and disruptions to routine can sometimes be overwhelming. However, with careful planning and a few sensory-friendly travel tips, individuals with autism can enjoy the wonders of travel while feeling comfortable and supported.

At Rise Up for Autism, we are dedicated to helping families thrive, which includes making adventures accessible for all. In this article, we’ll explore some valuable strategies and tips to ensure a sensory-friendly travel experience for individuals with autism.

1. Plan Ahead

The key to successful, sensory-friendly travel is thorough planning. Start by researching your destination to identify sensory-friendly accommodations and activities. Many hotels and attractions now offer sensory-friendly options, such as quiet rooms or special accommodations for sensory needs. Additionally, consider reaching out to the venues you plan to visit in advance to inquire about their accessibility options.

2. Create a Visual Schedule

Visual schedules can be invaluable for individuals with autism. Before your trip, create a visual itinerary that outlines each day’s activities and transitions. Use pictures, symbols, or words to help your loved one understand what to expect. Having a clear schedule can reduce anxiety and provide a sense of structure during travel.

3. Pack Sensory Comfort Items

Bringing familiar sensory comfort items home can provide a sense of security and reduce anxiety. Consider packing noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets, fidget toys, or any other sensory tools your loved one finds calming. These items can be especially helpful during long flights or car rides.

4. Dress Comfortably

Choose clothing that is comfortable and sensory-friendly. Opt for soft, breathable fabrics and avoid clothing with scratchy tags or seams. Dressing in layers allows for adjustments based on temperature, which can be unpredictable during travel.

5. Practice Sensory-Friendly Eating

Traveling often involves dining in unfamiliar places. To ensure a sensory-friendly dining experience, research restaurants in advance to find ones that offer sensory-friendly menus or accommodations. If your loved one has dietary restrictions or sensory sensitivities, consider bringing familiar snacks or meal options.

6. Prepare for Security Checks

Airports and security checkpoints can be stressful for anyone, but they can be particularly overwhelming for individuals with autism. Prepare your loved one by explaining the process in advance using social stories or visual support. Consider requesting assistance from airport staff, such as a disability support specialist, to make the process smoother.

7. Be Mindful of Sensory Overload

During your travels, be attentive to sensory overload triggers. Pay attention to signs of stress or discomfort in your loved one, and take breaks in quiet, less crowded spaces when needed. Noise-cancelling headphones and sunglasses can be helpful in crowded and noisy environments.

8. Embrace Sensory-Friendly Destinations

Consider visiting destinations that are known for their sensory-friendly attractions. Many museums, parks, and zoos now offer sensory-friendly programs and accommodations, making it easier for individuals with autism to enjoy the experience.

Child drinking water in aeroplane | Sensory-Friendly Travel Tips
Sensory-Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling with a loved one with autism may require extra planning and consideration, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. By implementing these sensory-friendly travel tips, you can ensure that adventures are accessible to all. At Rise Up for Autism, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to explore the world and create cherished memories. With thoughtful preparation and a commitment to inclusion, you can make travel a positive and enriching experience for individuals with autism and their families. Happy travels!

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