Packing for travel with a special needs, disabled, or medically complex child can be a daunting task. Even when our kids are no longer infants, we find ourselves lugging around all those big bags and wheeled conveyances like the parents with babies do! Or perhaps you’re like our family, where all the equipment gets even bulkier and more numerous as our kids get older. How can all of this “stuff” be managed for travel?
Tackling a big job like this requires planning. And the easiest way to plan is by making lists. So let’s begin there!
There was a time when taking my son to his therapy appointments was very challenging for me. I was taking him to weekly speech & physical therapy by myself, so I often forgot to bring necessary items along during the morning rush of diapering, dressing, feeding, and loading him into the van. After months of struggling to “get it together” on therapy day, I finally made a checklist on my 2Do app to make sure that I didn’t forget anything. Since the list is on my smartphone, I always have it with me and it’s very easy to access and update. If I ever think, “I really need to remember to bring _____ along next time,” I can immediately add it to the list on my phone before I forget.
You can make a list for each activity separately (such as going to a restaurant or to the park), or create a “master list” of items that you need for any outing with your special kid(s).
Of course, overnight and longer trips require more extensive planning. For vacations, we have a 2-column Word document that we print out before packing. Then the items are crossed out as they are packed.
It’s a pretty long list, isn’t it? And I know that many disabled or medically complex kids require even more things than this! How do you start to put together a comprehensive list for all your child’s daily needs?
Grab a notepad and write down the things that you are using as you go through your day. You don’t have to do it all at once; it’s easier to break it down into activities, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, bedtime, etc.
Packing is much less stressful knowing that I can print up the list and get right to work. The other handy thing about keeping the list on your computer is that it is easy to make changes or additions. If I ever find myself wishing that we had brought an item along on vacation, I make a note to add it to the packing list. Now we have a comprehensive list that makes travel with our special kid so much easier!
Your lists could also be kept in a notebook if computer or smartphone access is not available.
For medically complex children, an additional planning list may be necessary for any preparations needed prior to packing for a trip. Ordering supplies, refilling prescriptions, and preparing meals are just some of the things that may be required prior to traveling.
Although I use the 2Do app for travel planning, it can also be accomplished with a paper list, a calendar, or a computer document. The most important thing is to keep a “master list” on hand so that you don’t have to start planning from scratch every time you travel. The 2Do app works well for me because I can change the priority of the item instead of checking it off, allowing me to keep everything on my list for future reference.
The easier it is to pack, the more likely you’ll be to enjoy travel opportunities with your family. I hope these tips help to get you started on your journey. Let’s get packing!