As kids, we used to spend the entirety of our summer holidays in Turkey. And seeing as this was the 80s, and virtually impossible to find ‘Western’ stuff such as suncream and paper nappies, we used to bring A LOT of stuff. Bags and bags and bags. And as kids get their own baggage allowance, mom would fill our bags with stuff too. I felt like a mule. (Not a drugs mule!! Just an animal forced to carry heavy loads). So, I determined, once I had control over my own packing, that forevermore I would travel LIGHT. And so, I developed an obsession for travelling with as little as possible. Turned it into an art-form.
Of course, now that I have kids, and disabilities, it adds a whole new layer of complexity, and an added challenge. And a lot of anxiety. And so, I have developed rituals and systems to counter the anxiety. So, I think I might go through my method in case it helps anyone else.
First of all, usually a few weeks in advance, I write a long and detailed list. I may write and re-write it several times. This year, however, I picked up this pre-made list at my local Tiger store:
Once I have my list, I start gathering all the items into a pile. I also make sure I have cases etc to pack everything in. Most of the stuff goes in my carry-on wheelie and red bag. Did I mention we only ever travel with carry on luggage? Not only saves money, but also we hate waiting at those conveyor belt thingies.
Now that the kids are older, they have their own wheelie bags and backpacks, though those are mostly filled with toys and snacks. I also bring a spare backpack as they are handy for drinks and snacks when sightseeing.
Next, what to actually pack? As I know it’s going to be hot where we’re going, it’s easier to travel light. I pack one pair of shorts each for the kids, plus four t-shirts each. I also pack a pretty dress for my daughter. Also swimsuits just in case we end up at the beach. We don’t do beach holidays as the kids prefer city breaks, but you never know! The swimsuits for me and the kids are always of the separate shorts and tops type, no bikinis for us! But also easier to get in and out of than one-piece styles. As we have rounded shoulders, we also need tops where the straps can’t fall off. I also bring prescription goggles as I can’t see a thing without them!
First, I only bring as much meds as I need, I take them out of their boxes and put together in a toiletry case. This works ok as I’ve no meds that might require ‘explanation’ ie opiates. It’s mostly paracetamol, antihistamines of various types, and the essential melatonin for the kids. Also I bring a box of Diotalyte in case we get dehydrated.
I bring mini bottles of insect spray, suncream, toothpaste, mouthwash, and China Balm (copy of Tiger Balm) from Tiger. I also bring Mi Wadi Mini to add to water as my kids and I hate plain water but need to stay hydrated. I also bring small bottles of Calpol. I pack these into clear travel pouches, one in my red bag, and one in each of the kids wheelie bags.
A bag of Wether’s toffees, and a bag of pretzel sticks. So, sweet and salty snacks!
I also got these lanyards to use in a Dublin airport. They are a discreet way of indicating you need extra help, and allow us to go in shorter queues. You need a letter from your GP stating autism diagnosis and they are very easy to apply for.
As for the kids bags, they pack soft toys, either Mario, Minecraft or Pokémon characters. They also pack the Switch and/or 3DS. And chargers. Also we pack socket adapters if going to Europe. Also I bring my iPad and iPhone.
I am also very careful about our Travel Outfits. I always wear baggy trousers with pockets and a long-sleeved top, plus light jacket. The kids wear similar. Because no matter how hot it is at our destination, it will always be raining when we arrive back in Dublin! And no good getting wet while trying to find the car. Plus we wear runners or shoes with special insoles. I don’t pack extra shoes as I’ve never found we needed them.
And so, I think that’s everything? Knowing me, I’ll remember a few other things last minute! My husband handles the passports, tickets, cash and travel insurance etc. And so, here’s everything for one disabled autistic adult and two disabled autistic children for seven days in France: