Traveling can be more exciting when we travel with our family. Visiting new places, discovering new things together, experiencing adventures, and trying new cuisines are just some of the things we look forward to when we travel.
But traveling with the whole family is not that easy, especially when having a child with ADHD on board. “The trips that people have told me about that are hardest for kids are when there is a lot of unpredictability,” says psychologist Timothy Verduin, PhD. It is indeed a bit of a problem, but don’t allow these little snags spoil what could be your family’s trip of a lifetime.
Below are some tips on how to travel stress-free according to an online counseling site.
- According to MICHELE NOVOTNI, PH.D., “Plan your whole trip with one call to your travel agent. They’re great for folks with ADHD because they offer some structure, some downtime, and lots of flexibility.” Weeks before your travel, talk to your kid about the trip and explain why you have to go. Be sure to take into account describing the place you are going to, and if possible show him pictures. Tell him exciting things about the place and the potential activities he will enjoy while there.
Ask him his ideas about the trip to make him feel excited about it, too. Let him be a part of the plan by asking him if there are things that he wants to do in particular or places he would want to visit.
- Flights and long rides can be distressing and uncomfortable for kids, especially kids with ADHD. Anticipate the things that may cause him to have tantrums. Weeks before your trip, you can teach him techniques on how to stay calm in frustrating situations or when he gets bored, like deep breathing and use of verbal cues.
- If your child is on medications, be sure to pack his medicines and have them in your carry-on bag. It will make it easier for you to grab the medicines anytime you need them. Also, ask your doctor to write you a prescription, so you have it on hand while traveling.
- For you to be able to prepare all the things you will need and have enough time to check everything without distraction, you can arrange a playdate with grandparents or have him go to the park with friends. It can also allow your kid to use his energy hours before the trip, and he will end up sleeping a few hours in the car or on the plane.
- Always pack a piece or two of your kid’s favorite interactive toys to keep him occupied inside the car or plane. You can also bring coloring books, art crafts, and puzzles so he will not feel bored. There are also some apps for children with ADHD which you can let him play to keep him focused.
- If there are opportunities for your kid to do some physical activities, allow him to enjoy and use up some of his energy. Like if you happen to see a playground, you can take a stop and let him play for a while. Some airlines have flight crews trained to assist parents and help look after their kids for a while. You can also check the airline if they have kid-friendly amenities. You can inform them about your kid’s particular needs. You don’t have to be embarrassed to ask for help. Some airlines have policies about giving kids such as your child little assignments on the plane to keep them occupied during the flight.
- Always praise your child and, if possible, reward him for his excellent behavior. It will help reinforce positive behavior in your child and will make him behave well. According to Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., “Your best assets for helping your child meet the challenges of ADHD are your positive attitude and common sense. When you are calm and focused, you are more likely to be able to connect with your child, helping him or her to be calm and focused as well.”
Sometimes, the lessons traveling teaches us is far more significant than the adventures and experiences, knowing your child more and making you closer. ADHD should not stop you and your child from enjoying traveling together. Follow the tips given above and let traveling be fun and stress-free for the whole family.