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3 Tips for Travel as an Autistic Adult

As you gain more independence following high school, you may be interested in expanding your horizons a bit and traveling without your parents, either alone or with friends or siblings. Traveling can be an exciting or enriching experience for young adults, offering plenty of opportunities for personal growth and exploration.

For those individuals on the autism spectrum, you may also encounter unique challenges. Sensory overload, unfamiliar environments, and disrupted routines have the potential to make travel stressful and overwhelming. 

However, with careful planning and preparation, autistic adults can embark on memorable journeys with greater comfort and confidence.

  1. Plan and Prepare for Your Trip

Before your trip, thorough planning and preparation are key to reducing anxiety and ensuring a smooth travel experience. Consider the following steps:

  • Research your destination: Familiarize yourself with your destination’s customs and cultural practices. Find out if there are places to visit that align with your interests. Look at maps and lists of “Things To Do”. Find virtual tours online. Put all the information you find in one .
  • Create a visual schedule: Create a visual itinerary or schedule to help establish a sense of structure and predictability during your trip. Include travel times, activities, and rest breaks. As you plan, be sure to space out activities, giving yourself ample time to take breaks and rest.
  • Contact the airline and hotel: Reach out to the airline ahead of time to inform them of any special accommodations you may need, such as early boarding. Before staying at a hotel, you can request a room in a more quiet area, or select a room with a kitchenette so you can do some of your own cooking. 
  1. Pack Strategically

Packing the right items can significantly ease your anxiety while traveling. Think about items that will make you comfortable and feel secure in a new environment.

  • Sensory comfort items: Pack items that can help you stay calm, such as noise-canceling headphones for the airplane or crowded areas, a weighted blanket as sleeping in a new bed is difficult for anyone, or some fidget or stim toys. These can help reduce sensory overload and give you a sense of relief.
  • Snacks: Pack your favorite snacks to make sure you have access to familiar and suitable food selections, especially if you are traveling to a place with unfamiliar food options.
  • Comfortable clothes: Remember to select clothes you feel like yourself in. Even if you are tempted to buy some new outfits for the trip, your go-to clothes will bring you some familiarity and minimize discomfort while you are away. 
  1. Practice Self-Care

Traveling can be an overwhelming experience at times, so it is crucial to take care of your own well-being, even while traveling with others. 

  • Allow for downtime: Plan regular breaks and downtime to rest and recharge. These times are particularly important . Find quiet spaces or dedicate time to activities that help you relax.
  • Eat and drink regularly: Dehydration and irregular eating patterns can exacerbate anxiety and fatigue. Be sure to drink plenty of water and try your best to eat regular meals.
  • Use calming strategies: If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to try deep breathing or using one of your sensory objects to help yourself become calm again.

Traveling can be incredibly rewarding with the right planning and preparation. Remember, every autistic individual is unique, so adapt these suggestions to meet your own needs, and embrace your journey.

The ýapp offers young adults on the autism spectrum the one-of-a-kind opportunity to transition from high school to adulthood in a group setting. Those who attend the residential or day program hone social skills and study skills, while also developing crucial life skills, from doing laundry to taking public transportation. It is our mission to help young autistic adults explore the world and accomplish their dreams. If this sounds like a program you can see yourself in, reach out here.



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