My grandfather used to say that travel was a “damned expensive way to be inconvenienced…” No truer words were ever spoken, but travel can be enjoyable. The list below is a reference for myself – and if it helps some of you… then great!
1. ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS – If you think you’re going to go, go, go…. stop, stop, stop and think!!! The extra stimuli, strange surroundings, new people are all overwhelming and hard for an autistic person to deal with on a daily basis, but especially in a new and strange place. On our trip, I scheduled one event per day – if we managed more than that, BONUS!!
2. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B – I can’t state this enough! It’s part of that Adaptible & Flexible thing – and that’s YOU being flexible – not expecting your child to be! In a perfect world, it would be great to just go to an event without an “event” – but not always possible – so have a backup plan…
3. FIND ‘HENRY-FRIENDLY’ RESTAURANTS – This is a double-edged sword however. Make sure you like the restaurant as well – because you will likely be eating there multiple times! One night when Henry suggested McDonald’s, I asked him if we could “try” the Italian restaurant a block down. When making my reservation, I warned them that only plain spaghetti would do – and hopefully, that wouldn’t offend the delicate sensibilities of the genius at work in the kitchen…. We ate there 3 times – fortunately, it was excellent….
4. MAINTAIN YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR – I CAN’T STATE THIS ENOUGH (HENCE THE CAPITALS!)
5. HAVE AN ITINERARY – Two reasons; 1. It calmed Henry to know what we were doing from day to day; and 2. If I had missed anything, he could offer suggestions. I also scheduled one free day in case we wanted to do something again. But just a tip on San Francisco – I had loosely thought that we would ride the cable cars on Saturday…. bad idea…. the lineup for the cable car was over an hour long – should have done this during the week….
6. BE EARLY FOR EVERYTHING!!! – Now I don’t know if this is a particular autistic thing, or an OCD thing of Henry’s, but he’s NEVER late!!! I’d rather be early and waiting around, rather than cutting it close, and both of us whirling into an anxious spin!!!
7. PACK SNACKS – Because of Henry’s particular food issues, it would have been helpful to have some crackers and bananas in the backpack, just in case. This would have circumvented some seriously “hangry” moments.
8. BOOK A HOTEL WITH A POOL – This is a great thing when you have those ‘dead’ times – it also completely tires out your kid… So, Henry toddles off to the pool one late afternoon, while I proceed to the outdoor courtyard with a book and a cheeky glass of Pinot. He’s having a grand old time until another guest has the audacity (!!!) to also come in to use the pool! Since the other guests were not deterred by “The Old Stinkeye” treatment, he came back to our room…. Still, mission accomplished!
9. KITCHENETTE – Or better yet, a condo. When the kids were younger, a condo was non-negotiable. Relying on restaurants for all meals is a drag – and let’s face it – we’re not talking gourmet tastes here… Being able to make plain pasta, have some staples and stuff for sandwiches for me for our outings would have been extremely helpful!
10. BRING PROPHYLACTICS – Bahahahahaha!!! (See Adaptible & Flexible??? Part 3….) Perhaps not – certainly this is in my future before he departs for college. More of a life lesson, n’est pa??
In the end, the only important thing, is that we both have fabulous memories from this trip, and seeing a huge grin on his face was worth any amount of inconvenience….