The holidays are the busiest travel time of the year. While many people look to fly to cut down on time, most are forced to get behind the wheel for some time to spend time with friends and family. Having a child with special needs can make some families feel extra concerned about their holiday travels but significant planning can help in this process. We hope to make it less hard on yourself and your child with these six tips for car rides over the holidays.
Plan Your Stops
Make a timetable of when and where you will stop along the way. Map out gas stations, restaurants and bathroom breaks ahead of time. The last thing you need when traveling during the stressful holiday season is thinking there is going to be a gas station ahead when you are running on empty and then it turns out there isn’t one.
Stopping every hour or so to just get some fresh air will take out the tension of being stuck in a car for a long period of time. It will also help break up the trip for your child so it is more enjoyable.
When planning, determine
Are the stops accommodating to your child’s needs?
Do the restaurants satisfy your child’s dietary needs?
Is one stop slightly off the beaten path able to handle multiple requirements?
Is there enough time (or not enough time) between stops?
Have you considered novelties or unique destinations that can make the trip more engaging?
Mapping every stop out will not only reduce the stress but will help you stick to a schedule so you arrive to your destination on time.
Grab Bag for Medication
When everything is all piled up in the car it can become hard to access what you need, when you need it. Put medication in a separate bag next to you or placed in the glovebox so you can get to it quickly and easily. Make sure you have a couple extra days’ worth of medication. You never know when something comes up and you have to stay away from home for a few extra days.
Ship Your Clothes
If your family is planning on staying with family or friends for longer than a couple days you might want to ship some of your stuff. Shipping clothes to your destination will allow for more room in the car. This will also make sure you are packed way ahead of time instead of rushing and worrying you forgot to bring something at the last minute.
Make Sure There Is Entertainment
Nobody likes a boring car ride. Let your child pick out two toys out ahead of time that they want to bring with them. This eliminates clutter and lessens the chances of them losing something they love along the way.
Create an activity binder for your child. This binder can include a map of the drive, so no more “Are we there yet,” cries from the backseat. They can see exactly where you are at on the map and how much longer it is going to take to arrive.
Here are some printable games that your child can play
Audible is a great source of entertainment. Audible is a digital resource for audiobooks, they also have audio recordings of television shows. . Just search through their wide selection and download it to your phone, tablet or computer. It is free for the first 30 days and they have over 180,000 titles to choose from. The company offers a wide variety of stories for children from fairytales to holiday theme. They also have best sellers ranging from Harry Potter to Dr. Seuss.
If this is your child’s first long trip it might be overwhelming for them. Instead of the children sitting alone in the back, sit with them. By staggering your seating arrangement, this will help in not having to try to reach them in the front seat and instead be able to help them and entertain them better. This will also allow the driver to be more focused on the road, the less distracted driving the better.
Reward For Good Behavior
Make an agreement with your child that good behavior offers a reward. This will not only help ensure that they are on their best behavior but also creates fewer arguments and less meltdowns.
If you’re going on a long road trip tell them for each stop they will be rewarded for being good. This could be a reward of a treat like healthy fruit snacks or one of the activity sheets. You could also guarantee them if they behave on the whole ride they can pick out one present at your destination or get to unwrap a gift you already purchased for this occasion. This will give them something to look forward to.
With all of the stress surrounding the holidays, we hope these ideas have at least been a thought starter on decreasing the planning process. When it comes to helping your family, nobody knows better than you on tips to move on but we like to speak up and help! Speaking of help: if you’re looking to better understand Cerebral Palsy or are looking for particular resources to help a child with special needs, contact us today!