Spring Break Tips: Traveling with Sensory Needs

The holidays are just barely over, but Spring Break is already coming up fast! Whether you’re planning on relaxing at home or flying off to Disney World, accounting for your child’s sensory sensitivities can feel overwhelming–but, with a little extra thought and careful planning, it can be done!

See below for a few of our favorite tips on tackling spring break and traveling with sensory needs.

Tips for Traveling with Sensory Needs

  • Don’t stop at online research. Call up the resort, park, or club and talk about your child’s specific needs and available accommodations. (Disney, for example, has a wide variety of services for patrons with disabilities.)
  • Keep your routine as intact as possible. If you can, rent a house or Airbnb instead of getting a hotel room. This will give you more control over meal prep, baths, and sleeping arrangements.
  • Practice good transitions. Take the few minutes between activities to make sure your child has a bathroom break, a snack, or even just a few deep breaths.
  • Pack for your child’s sensory triggers. Helpful items might include noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, smelling jars, or a picky eater’s favorite snack.
  • Plan your stops. If you’re driving, pack a cooler and eat at rest areas or parks instead of restaurants. Build in time to let your child run around and burn off excess energy.
  • Keep your own expectations in check. Leave plans open-ended whenever possible. Rather than trying to stick to a rigid schedule, try to do just one or two things each day.
  • Make sure your child knows what to expect. Print out maps, brochures, and photos from Google or Yelp and go over them together. Practice waiting in line and develop strategies for dealing with overwhelming situations.
  • Build in downtime. Each member of the family should have time to go for a walk, read a book, or do whatever calms and centers them. Remember, taking time for yourself will allow you to be more present and able to fully enjoy your time together.

Some Tips for Staying Home

  • Keep your routine as intact as possible. If you do need to change up your family’s schedule, talk to your child about how this week will be different than usual.
  • Take day trips. Shorter, focused outings are generally cheaper and allow you to maintain more control over meals, timing, etc.
  • Look for less trafficked alternatives to popular destinations. Check out smaller train or art museums, or go see your local minor league team instead of the Cubs.
  • Know when other schools are on break. Keep in mind that play places and other popular destinations will be much, much busier than usual.