Family Travel A to Z: Zero Excuses!
I’ve just spent 25 posts discussing different aspects of family travel. We’ve tackled big and small issues, looked at broad and specific challenges and have covered pretty much the whole spectrum when it comes to family travel. I hope you now realise family travel is possible, even if you are an autism family, like us.
It can be daunting to put so much on the line to go travelling. It can seem like a risk that’s too much to take, particularly when there’s no guarantee of success. However, if you really want to travel, there is always a way around most obstacles. Which means, there are zero excuses for not giving family travel a go!
Follow these steps to ensure you have the best chance of success when you embark on your family travel adventure. There are zero excuses – it’s time for action. You can do this!
ZERO EXCUSES – HOW TO MAKE FAMILY TRAVEL A REALITY
Step 1: Plan
This has been a constant theme in this series. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Travelling as a family, let alone travelling as an autism family, isn’t meant to be a flying by the seat of your pants adventure in hope and prayer. Take the time to plan. Ensure you plan a holiday that takes into account the needs of your kids. You need to know what you are going to do so you can prepare your kids and ease them into the adventure. Put time and effort into planning your family holiday and it will pay off – trust me!
Step 2: Prepare
Use your plan and prepare the whole family for travel. Put together visual itineraries and social stories to prepare your kids for what’s to come. Seek specialist help and advice for specific goals, such as learning to wait in line and tolerating different foods. Anticipate potential issues and have a plan to deal with them. Talk to your kids, share books and videos and get ready, together, for the adventure of a lifetime!
Step 3: Pack
Pay attention to packing. Get started early so you can get your kids used to new clothes, shoes and luggage. Practise carrying backpacks and pulling suitcases. Learn how to pack properly so you can get the most out of weight limits. Investigate technology options for entertainment, tracking and safety while out and about. Encourage your kids to help pack their belongings so they know nothing has been left behind. Put together a list and check it many, many times – you don’t want to be that parent who forgets the ipad or charger!
Step 4: Persevere
Work on your own mental strength and resilience in the lead up to the trip. Practice flexible thinking, rational thought processes, positivity and perseverance. Believe in your ability to guide your family while being strong enough to deal with unexpected events and setbacks, as they occur. Develop contingency plans and be prepared for anything. Perseverance is not an easy skill to develop but it is the most important skill when it comes to taking the leap and travelling as an autism family.
Step 5: Systemise
The 4Ps (plan, prepare, pack, persevere) form the basis for our travel plans and ensure we have the best possible chance of a fun and enjoyable family holiday. We also use another system, the 3Ss, to complement our planning and focus our efforts on the strategies that will best support our kids when we travel. We’ve found concentrating on Social Stories, Sensory Needs and Special Interests, best help our kids engage with our holiday plans. This system manages anxiety, sensory threats and gives our kids a reason to look forward to the holiday. The 4Ps and the 3Ss are systems that really do work, when it comes to preparing an autism family for holidays.
Step 6: Believe
You’ve planned, prepared, packed, persevered and have solid systems in place for your holiday. You’ve done all you can to make the trip a success. Believe in your ability to do this. Believe in your kids – they will surprise you. Believe in your dream of travel. There is no point living in fear or putting off things that seem too hard. Take the leap and know you will be okay. The holiday may not be a complete success – holidays rarely are. But you will learn from each experience and soon enough, the idea of travel will be less daunting and much for exciting (for all of you!) You just have to believe it’s possible and take that leap of faith.
Step 7: Invest
Investing in your holiday will yield rewards for you in the long run. Sometimes, it can be hard to justify investing in a holiday that may not work out, let alone investing in extra items on top of that. It’s worthwhile investing in technology to make things easier for your and your kids on the trip – noise cancelling headphones, tablets/smart phones, tracking technology, etc. It’s wise to invest in travel insurance, in case things do go wrong and you need extra help to cover expenses. It’s recommended to invest in quality luggage that will last and protect your belongings. Good investments yield good results – don’t be afraid to invest in products and services to make your holiday better for everyone.
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Have I convinced you to give family travel a go? Remember, there are zero excuses. Get out there and explore!