Are you traveling with a sensory seeker this summer? Today we will talk about how to travel with a seeker to make sure you make the most out of your time away from home. We will give seeker strategies for travel time, stays, and activities out and about.
First, let’s talk about how to get to that vacation with your seeker.
As I am sure you noticed, seekers tend to do better with movement! So sitting crammed together in a car or airplane can be a huge challenge for seekers and sometimes those around them too. Taking your seeker on a trip really relies on good preparation. Boost your success with a few tools, activities, and planned stops.
For our family, in the car and on the plane, we rely on a couple small fidget toys and the headphones for audiobooks or a movie. We all play the alphabet or numbers game (first to locate all the letters or numbers in order wins). Twenty questions is another favorite for us too.
Keep in mind that providing a variety of input can be really helpful. Have some handy tactile toys like silly putty or pipe cleaners for some open ended play. Hard candy and gum can provide great oral input and have the double win for keeping ears open on flights and over high mountain passes.
Some simple physical games work well like thumb wars, cat’s cradle and hand clapping games. Another great, do-anywhere activity is to teach your kids sign language! Just learning the letters of the alphabet can provide great proprioceptive input.
Of course these kinds of activities don’t replace the value of large, muscle moving activities. Make a point to stop along your way at a park, view point, or even a gas station. Even if you are limited on safe space at stops, try leading out your family in some helicopter spins, jumping jacks and squats. Using these big muscle groups will really help settle the body of a busy seeker to help them get back on the road. If you are on a plane, get up for a bathroom trip. Even a quick stand up break and scenery change can help a lot.
Hopefully these travel tips help your seeker stay regulated while traveling!
When you arrive, the next common hurdle for seekers is getting the input they need in an unfamiliar place. Whether you are staying with family or friends or at a hotel, new places can create challenges.
If you are staying with friends and family, don’t be afraid to say “we’ve been in the car so much, we really need a moving break. Is there a park nearby that my kiddo can enjoy while we catch up?” Even if they are unfamiliar with traveling with a sensory seeker, they will understand the need for some moving after sitting still.
Staying at a hotel? Do an “exploration”! It is another one of my favorite moves. I grab the kiddo and, being sure to take the stairs, head down, check out the lobby, eyeball the pool, breakfast zone and get familiar. Take the other set of stairs back up and voila! Your seeker got a vestibular, visual-spatial and proprioceptive sensory diet in a 5-10 minute tour. Win!
Next, hit the pool! Swimming or playing in the water is a great sensory activity for seekers! Splashing, the feel of the water and the energy expended is a traveler’s best friend. When we travel, we do our best to hit the pool before bed. It wears our kiddo out for sleep. We also try to go again in the morning. This takes some of the “energy edge” off before we have other, often more sedate plans for the day.
No matter if you are in a hotel or a friend’s house, be sure to have an arsenal of do-anywhere sensory activities. If you need help with this, check out the Sensory Sid Activity Cards. You can quickly have your kid sneak in some fun activities even in as small of a space as a hotel room.
Activities out and about
When you are out and about, be sure to be on the look out for some moving activities for your seeker. For us, we often have some business to attend to on trips. Maybe you have a lot of quiet time visiting people you haven’t seen for awhile. Spacing that out and timing what happens before and after helps us the most. If you know that you will have to have your seeker sit still for awhile, try to hit a park or the pool first. After you finish the still portion, make time to schedule something like a hike, beach play or a trip to the zoo.
Don’t be afraid to invite whomever you are visiting out with you! Everyone can benefit from these activities, seeker or not.
With a little planning and preparation, traveling with a sensory seeker can be a joy. Take a few little sensory toys with you. Make extra stops. Move a little more. You may even find yourself healthier because of it!