What Rachel Writes

Tips on travelling with highly anxious children

Both of my girls have high anxiety due to their autism. Travelling is not easy. The unknown, the what if’s, the noise, smells. The no guarantees about anything can get too much.

Both of my girls have a travel bag each. It contains personal items that help keep them calm as much as possible. These bags go everywhere with them. Trains especially cause a heightened sense of anxiety.

The first thing we do is sit down together and plan the route there and back if it is a day trip. We try to give more than one plan, just in case plan A goes wrong for example, delays, cancellations or if we miss the train or bus.

If it’s a holiday then we sit and plan as much as we can together.

A big must is that they both bring a bag each.

Miss M is 9, she has a unicorn bag.  She chooses what she brings, it’s always the same so she leaves it all in there.

  • Notepad and pen to draw in.
  • A fidget cube.
  • Squishy.
  • Ipod and headphones so she can listen to music and drown out the noise.
  • Ear defenders, a must if she doesn’t want music or when we are walking.
  • Chewy necklace. She doesn’t wear it, she has it in a sandwich bag so it stays clean and will hold it to chew it.
  • A snack. I don’t want a hangry child!

My teen Miss C has a mini rucksack. Again she chooses what to bring, it’s the same every time.

  • A notepad and pen to doodle in.
  • A fidget cube.
  • Phone and headphones to again to block out the outside world. She will not look around her, she looks at her feet.
  • String, to also fiddle with or she will wear a hoodie or jacket with a cord that she can fiddle or chew.
  • A snack. She gets hangry too!

The only difficultly is when they are on a busy bus or train where they can not sit down. They cling onto me as there safety zone. Both will look down and I can feel their anxieties. If we can find a corner to stand in then that’s where we will stand.

We always try and opt for less busier times when we can, we will always look for an easier way to travel but sometimes we have to travel during busier times. I think it is something my girls need to experience even though they don’t like it. Throughout their lives they are going to have to travel and do things out of their comfort zone, life isn’t always easy.

I give them at least a weeks notice, more if I can, so they have time to process what is going to happen and ask as many questions as they want which I will answer if I can.

The majority of the time all goes well, sometimes there are a few hiccups along the way but that’s life!

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