Dec 09, 2011 1 Share

He Who Loves to Travel

Car on a winding road through moutains.

I’ve had several people ask me in the past how Cody handled traveling, particularly on long trips. I’m here to tell you I don’t think I know anyone who enjoys traveling more than my son.

We have taken several long road trips as a family. Northern Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are two of our favorite destinations; both are roughly 18 to 20 hours from our home.

One of the things that we have always done is to make sure that Cody knows about the trip well in advance. We spend a lot of time in the prior months and weeks, talking about what we’re going to do and where we’re going to stay. We discuss the smallest details like when we need to start packing, if we will have an overnight somewhere in between, and what kind of snacks we need to take to have along the way. If it is a fishing trip and we will be staying in a cabin and cooking many of our own meals, then we discuss with Cody what he would like to eat while we are there. This includes all three meals and snacks in between. We talk about what kind of weather is going on in the area we will be traveling to and what kind of clothing we will need to take and any shopping we need to do. Cody is involved in that too.

Providing Cody with details and making him involved in planning serves two purposes:

  1. It prepares him well ahead of time for what will be taking place.
  2. Since it is all discussed in an upbeat, positive manner, and he has physically taken part in the preparation for the trip, it gives him a sense of pride, something to look forward to and to be excited about.

Everyone takes their showers the night before so we can leave very early in the morning, usually around 3:00 a.m. When we go to wake Cody, we usually find him already wide awake and ready to jump out of bed at our request. He wastes no time getting his teeth brushed and getting himself dressed. And before we know it he is planted in his usual place in the back seat of the car and waiting for us to join him.

At this hour, many kids and adults who are back seat passengers would opt for passing the time by catching a snooze. We have always taken our own pillows along and told Cody that if he wanted to go back to sleep he was free to do so. Not even as a child has he ever taken that opportunity. He is much too interested in taking in and processing everything he sees along the way, from the very beginning to the very end, no matter how long the drive.

Cody is excited by the smallest of things such as stopping at McDonald’s in another town. He is well versed in our routine for stopping at a gas station to refuel. He knows that he and Bill fill the car while I go in to use the restroom and when I come back out, they are done fueling the car and then they go to the men’s room while I stay with the car.

Stopping at a hotel for an overnight stay along the way represents a milestone that has been reached. Cody knows that the following day we will arrive at our destination. He is not only compliant about taking his shower and sleeping in a bed that is not his own, but he does it with enthusiasm. Because we always get a double room, he feels safe in the new surroundings because our bed is right next to his. We always make sure he is involved in locking the doors at night before we go to sleep. We take along something that is from his room at home, such as Oscar, his favorite stuffed fish, as a measure to make him feel extra secure. Without fail, Cody always sleeps very soundly that night. And in the morning he is up and ready to go without hesitation.

Another few hours of travel time and we will be at our vacation spot and begin enjoying everything Cody has been looking forward to for so long!

By the end of our stay, we are all ready to head for home. At this point, Cody is now eager to sleep in his own bed, but still feels a sense of accomplishment, because of all the plans we made as a family, and his part in making them become a very happy reality.

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Autism and travel can be a great combo!

My ASD kids love to travel too! I'm a travel agent, and every time I get a new shipment of brochures my 6-year-old immediately opens the box and pours over them. I've noticed that when we're on vacation, things that would normally upset him are easier for him to overlook or get past.