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.Ā  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!

16 Comments on Tips on travelling with highly anxious children

  1. Fran Back With A Bump
    November 25, 2019 at 9:52 am (4 months ago)

    Travelling with kids always requires lots of organisation, so I can imagine with autistic children it requires even more juggling. Activities and snacks are an absolute must for us!

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:34 pm (4 months ago)

      It’s the juggling, planning and thinking ahead but yes activities and snacks are a definite must!

      Reply
  2. Sabina Green
    November 25, 2019 at 10:09 am (4 months ago)

    It can be very tricky to travel with anxious children. These are really great tips that you have shared, we haven’t been on a long trip with ours for a while but I will remember this.

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:32 pm (4 months ago)

      Yes it can be. Thank you, it’s just a useful way of keeping them occupied on other things rather than the travelling.

      Reply
  3. Talya Stone
    November 25, 2019 at 2:21 pm (4 months ago)

    Gosh that must be challenging – I can see how research, preparation, planning and communication would be so vital to travelling with anxious children. I guess the more they know the more in control and the less anxious they feel?

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:29 pm (4 months ago)

      Yes it can be very challenging. That’s exactly it, the more control and information they have the less anxious they feel.

      Reply
  4. Lyndsey OHalloran
    November 26, 2019 at 10:38 am (4 months ago)

    The bags are such a good idea. We do something similar for Erin but just so she has activities to do mostly more than anything else.

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm (4 months ago)

      Yes bags are great to keep our kiddies occupied while travelling. It saves lots of unnecessary stress.

      Reply
  5. Pati Robins
    November 26, 2019 at 11:18 am (4 months ago)

    oh wow these are absolutely spot on and fantastic tips , we always pack loads of snacks and books plus a ipad for travel games

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:23 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you šŸ™‚ snacks and anything that can occupy our kiddies are a must!

      Reply
  6. Rosie Preston-Cook
    November 26, 2019 at 5:01 pm (4 months ago)

    It can be a very anxious time travelling, especially with crowds of other people. These bags are a great idea and I’m sure they will help other people reading this.

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 26, 2019 at 7:22 pm (4 months ago)

      It can be a very anxious time. I hope I can help others who also have anxious children.

      Reply
  7. Rebecca
    November 27, 2019 at 6:01 am (4 months ago)

    You’re a great mum for still taking them out and about in the world, traveling to see wonderful sights. I can’t imagine it’s an easy ride for you. Some really great advice for others who might have highly anxious children.

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 28, 2019 at 8:29 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment šŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Beth
    November 27, 2019 at 6:35 am (4 months ago)

    This is great… I hadn’t thought of doing this for my 5 year old. He has communication difficulties and, often, this gets the better of him in some situations. Thanks for the tip. šŸ™‚

    Reply
    • WhatRachelWrites
      November 28, 2019 at 8:28 pm (4 months ago)

      Oh bless him! glad I could help šŸ™‚

      Reply

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