5 ways to prepare for holidays

For H, holidays are some of the happiest times; beaches, swimming pools, family, ice creams and alike. They are also times, particularly in the build up of increased anxiety and decreased communication – for H, they are common ways in which his Autism is manifest. Here are 5 practical steps that we take before we go on holiday to help H and reduce his anxieties.

Preparing for holidays

  1. We make a ‘social story’ about our time away detailing as much as we know about each day. Then we read it lots before we go! The story includes details of where we will be, who will be there and significant activities. The story always concludes with coming home – for H it’s important to know there’s an end point. H loves holidays, but he loves his home more. This whole process has been made much easier recently as H now knows his days of the week – thanks Year 1! 
  2. We show H videos and photos of the places that we are going to. Most attractions have great multimedia websites now and YouTube makes finding videos so much easier. We always look up attractions to find out what to expect; will H have to wait or walk lots, can he take a carer with him for free, is there anything that’s going to make him nervous.
  3. We take some familiar things that matter to him. His soft toys, duvet and the visual timetable stuff so we can plan out each day. It makes for a fuller car, but a happier holiday! It’s all about comfort, reducing anxiety and making our holiday feel like ‘home away from home’.
  4. We do a holiday countdown, crossing off each sleep as a visual reminder of how long to go. We then do a countdown to coming home too. All of these visual type resources can be made really easily using Widget – it’s an web based, paid subscription, visual resource maker – we’ve found it’s been well worth the investment.
  5. We expect less sleep and more screen time in the run up to holiday – the first night is the worst, all the boys are wired with excitement! I used to get very nervous when H’s speech would regress in the build up and during holiday, but this was only temporary. We still have to be ready to answer the same questions about what’s going on many times each day.


I find having realistic expectations really helps you all feel more relaxed – don’t expect a perfect week, even any perfect days, but enjoy those precious ‘perfect moments’.

What about you? How do you survive the build up to holidays or significant changes to your routines?

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) from Pexels

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