10 Tips for Summer Trips
By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP
Traveling with children who have learning differences adds an element of unpredictability to the family vacation. If you bring everything that your child needs to feel comfortable, centered and engaged, you are likely to have a wonderful experience. If, however, you don’t plan for his specific needs and interests, you might end up regretting the day you booked two weeks on Fantasy Island. Here are some tips to ensure you make the most of your summer of fun.
- Do Your Homework
Before planning your vacation, find out how child-friendly your destination really is. Even places that have on-site facilities for kids may not have programs or caregivers appropriate for your child. Make sure that there are plenty of other things your child likes to do. If there’s swimming, for example, ask about times when children can swim, and make sure you have updated information about the types of pools accessible to them.
- Prepare Ahead
For young or novice travelers, take time to discuss your vacation plans so that she will not be fearful of the transition, travel arrangements, and site plans.
- Check the Forecast
Follow the weather for your destination several days in advance. If it looks as if weather may be a problem, search out alternate activities nearby. Doing that ahead of time avoids the last-minute scramble to find things to do when everyone is already restless and disappointed.
- Carry-On Changes
Take a change of clothes in a carry-on bag. As seasoned travelers know, it can be extremely uncomfortable to be caught with your pants down—down in Florida, that is, when you are flying to Toronto.
- Personalize Entertainment
Have each child choose which snacks, drinks, games, books, or DVDs will go into his personal carry-on. Start the process early.
- Take Emergency Supplies
A stain-remover stick and wipes are quick first treatments when kids spill and you’re miles away from a washing machine. Also, bring a supply of re-sealable plastic bags (all sizes). They’re great for everything from wet bathing suits to kid-sized portions of snacks.
- Keep Prescription Meds At Hand
Regardless of travel mode, make sure that prescription medications are with you at all times. That means if you’re flying, the meds go in the carry-on. Keep a current copy of each prescription in a separate place.
- Separate Over-the-Counter Meds
Over-the-counter medication should be kept separately from prescription medications. If you are traveling with children, make sure you know their sensitivities and proclivities and be prepared. Bring sunblock—roll on sticks are great for little faces and ears—and apply it liberally and often. Calamine lotion or other anti-itch aid is a must for those who attract bugs and mosquitoes.
- Board Early
If you’re flying with a child who has LD or ADHD and you want to pre-board, have a letter from your child’s physician to show the airline representative. The letter should say that the physician is treating John Jones for such and such and it is advantageous for John and his family to be seated as early as possible in the boarding process to alleviate anxiety.
- Bring Security
Make sure that every child with a learning difference has a small flashlight to use on your trip. If he’s in a room with other kids, it offers security, a way to get to the parents’ room without fear of darkness, the option to read later than others, and a general feeling of control over strange space.
If you take the time to think where and when your child might feel uncomfortable, you can tend to the discomfort before it happens. Bon Voyage!