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Bring Your Routine Along on Vacation

Pack a little predictability for a safer sojourn

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Part of the fun of travel is experiencing new things, taking the old boring routine and throwing it out the window, right? For a child with special needs, that's not the fun of travel -- that's the horror of it. When routine is your touchstone, your way of making it safely through the world, having it removed can be less exciting than terrifying.

There's a degree to which routine disruption can't be helped when you're on the road. But to the degree that it can be, do so. Keep things as predictable as possible for your child, and allow for the disruptions you have imposed when you pass judgment on behavior.

A few things to try to make a hotel a little more like home:

  • As much as luggage will allow, bring familiar bedroom items like stuffed animal, favorite blanket, pillow, and beloved toys.
  • Keep bedtimes and wake-up times as close to normal as possible, allowing for time changes.
  • Consider staying in a room with small kitchen so your child doesn't have to deal with restaurants first thing in the morning, and you can have an occasional at-home dinner, too.
  • Try to bring some entertainment item your child enjoys -- videos, video games, computer -- for some decompression time.
  • Keep a consistent schedule from day to day if you can -- a trip routine -- even if the specific activities change.
  • Talk to your child each morning about what you'll be doing, and each night about what you've done.

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