I absolutely love holidays! I love the whole experience. But being autistic it can be extremely overwhelming. From the airport to the changes in routine, it can all get a bit much.
In 2014 I spent two weeks in New York, a place filled with beauty. It was a rocky start, but as the first week progressed I’d settled into my surroundings, and I’d had some sort of routine. Things were going great, until my husband ended up in hospital. I was alone in a foreign place, my guide and support lying in a hospital bed. I had to find my way to my hotel alone, trying to navigate the subway systems and failing, crying on the phone to my family back home. Let’s be honest though, this was unpredicted and worst case scenario, and I was able to calmly navigate my way back for some much needed sleep. I had several meltdowns during this holiday, but I was able to prepare and plan rationally. This holiday wasn’t all bad, I did get to go on a helicopter ride on Christmas Day, something I’d never thought I’d ever experience!
Fast forward a few months. In the summer of 2015 I visited Japan. Now this was an experience of a lifetime.
However, much like New York it was a new place, a densely populated unknown place. It was new food and a new language, which left me feeling lost. It was waves of unfamiliar faces staring as I sat on the metro. Everyone was so polite, apart from the weird glances on the odd occasion, I was a foreigner to the locals.
Food was another major issue for me, but luckily I was able to adjust slightly, I was able to find a McDonalds and a pizza restaurant near by. It’s always good to be prepared and know what is available before a trip. Planning always helps!
In 2017, I received my official autism diagnosis, making travelling much easier. I find airports extremely stressful; and I usually meltdown at security. However, because of my diagnosis I was able to obtain a ‘green sunflower lanyard‘ to show I was disabled – this saved my life. This lanyard got me through security quicker and in a much quieter environment, an environment where people knew I would need help. It also prepared me, and prepared staff.
2018, and yet another holiday, one I was able to prepare for, and even though I was prepared this one was tough. I attended a video games convention in Germany, and although I knew I would be surrounded by a million people, when I was part of that crowd it was incredibly overwhelming.
Coming home from this trip was a nightmare. Initial flights were delayed, meaning we might have missed our connecting flights – luckily we didn’t. But this was a huge stressor and sent me into a panic. I was hysterical, I was screaming, panting, crying and a blubbering mess. I didn’t, I couldn’t be stranded over night in Germany, this wasn’t possible, it wasn’t even an option in my mind. Everyone stared as I had a meltdown, I felt everyone’s eyes on my back, disapproving as though I was a naughty child. Airport staff looking at me empathetically yet not helping, just standing there watching. The one thing that got me through this was my husband, and my stim toy. I had my chewigem necklace and my tangle teaser, in my hands, fidgeting to calm myself down – a must have when travelling!!
One thing that makes every trip bearable is my husband, he plans everything down to the tiniest detail. Full itinerary for every day, spreadsheets with budgets and daily spending, the lot. Without him I’d crumble. He is my rock and my stability, and on holiday he is my life saver.
Even though holidays can be stressful, they can also be fun and enjoyable. It’s all about being prepared in advance. So that means having a detailed list of items in your suitcase just incase something goes missing, having a budget and daily spending allowance to keep track of money and ensure you don’t over spend, keeping all documents in one safe place such as plane tickets and hotel information. Little things that can make a big difference to a trip!
Oh and happy travelling! 🌏✈️🗺🗽🏖