Autism, travel, parenting and mental health

Managing Your Stress While Traveling

Managing Your Stress While Traveling

Traveling is one activity that can be stressful from start to finish. Have you ever gone on a trip, and after you got back home you felt like you needed a vacation from your vacation? Special needs parenting comes with its own set of stresses, and we try to keep ourselves calm but its rough sometimes. When autism parents travel with their kiddos, we have to not only manage our own stress levels, but also our kiddos’. Here are some things that have made it easier to manage my stress on the go. 

Don’t try to do everything

If this is your first time taking a vacation with your kiddos on the spectrum, take it slow. Overbooking can lead too little downtime, overstimulation and rushing. All of these can lead humans to meltdowns, autistic or not. Instead of trying to see the “most things.” Try to focus on how to get relaxation time, while still making it to your must see locations. 

Don’t micromanage 

I’m not saying to go schedule free for those who need structure. All I am saying, is go with the flow. If you don’t knock every activity off your schedule it’s ok, as long as your kiddos are managing. Sometimes there is need to schedule and make sure you get the most out of a vacation, but if it’s stressing you out and making you grumpy, it’s not worth it. 

This was an unplanned activity because we weren’t sure how everyone would do with face painting but they loved it!

Don’t expect perfection 

Of course we never expect our kiddos to be perfect, they are kids, I am talking about you. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. You will be tired, stressed, and possibly short and irritated. We always expect the most out of ourselves, but give yourself a break. Try to focus on having a fun time, not a perfect time.  

Don’t let strangers get to you

I’ve been there many times, my kid (or kids) are on the ground in a puddle of their own emotions, in full blown meltdown. While in the midst of trying to help my kiddos calm down, and controlling my own emotions, some a**hat makes a comment about my parenting skills. I am here to tell you to not give that person one ounce of attention. I know its damn-near-impossible, but it’s not your job to care about other people’s thoughts. You can only control your emotions and responses to stress, not other people’s. And really, it is not your job to spread autism awareness in that moment. It’s almost comical when people say things to people when children are melting down. Like we expect a person who has only been alive for less than 18 years to have complete control over their emotions. Seriously??? The adults with the comments about your kiddo’s meltdowns can’t control their emotions, or they wouldn’t have said anything. So don’t let their ignorance make you feel embarrassed or like you are failing. They clearly don’t have their sh*t together, so they shouldn’t be judging you anyway. 

Try to Relax

When I am planning and researching for new places, I always start out with our must see list, and build from that. I have learned over the years that a stressed out mom and dad can really put a damper on a vacation. So do yourself and your family a favor and slow down, take a breath. Stress is something that everyone deals with, and stress is part and parcel to being alive. You CAN ask for a break, you CAN ask to take time for yourself, and you CAN veto activities that are not conducive to your mental wellbeing.  


Have any other tips for managing stress on the go? Let me know in the comments!

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