Even if you’ve found tools and strategies that help your child with self-regulation, sensory overload can be harder to manage when you’re on the go. This is when a sensory travel kit can help.
A sensory travel kit is packed with tools that calm a child who is overwhelmed. Here are three different types of travel kits you can make. Depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, you may want to make more than one of these kits.
Quick Trip Sensory Travel Kit
When you go to the mall or to a school event, you’ll only be gone for a short time. You can also leave if you need to. In this case, it may make more sense to have a small sensory regulation kit in your purse, bag or coat pocket—rather than lug a big bag of sensory tools.
A roll-up makeup bag can serve this purpose easily. It has sections, so you can keep the sensory tools apart from each other. It’s also compact enough to tuck away.
Consider adding some of the following items:
Earbuds, folding headphones or earplugs to help make noise less overwhelming
Sticky notes to put over sensors for automatic flushing toilets and hand dryers
A small bottle of hand lotion to soothe your child’s need for touch
“Smellies” (e.g., scented lip balm)
A small fidget or stress ball
Oral sensory tools like gum, Chewelry or chewy and crunchy snacks
Keep-in-the-Car Sensory Box
If you’re like many parents, you spend a lot of time driving kids to and from places. So you may want to keep a larger and better-stocked sensory kit in the car.
A tackle box or craft box with sections and a handle is sturdy enough to handle bumps on the road. It’s also easy for you and your child to sort through. The tackle box can include the same items you’d put in the quick-trip travel kit, along with bigger items that wouldn’t fit in a makeup bag. These items might be:
Noise-reducing headphones to reduce traffic noise
Sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and/or car window shades to reduce light
A timer to help with transitions
A small weighted lap pad, stuffed animal or sensory pillow to provide calming pressure
Proprioceptive tools like playdough or clay
A jump rope (to use at rest stops or at your destination)
A harmonica, kazoo or other small instruments
Sensory Backpack for Vacations
Traveling to new locations or visiting family can be exciting. It can also be stressful for kids who seek or avoid sensory stimulation. It can help to keep a sensory backpack within reach in the car or on the plane. This way your child will have sensory tools handy while you’re driving or otherwise occupied.
You can also pack things in the backpack that will be useful while you’re away. These might be items your child uses as part of a daily sensory diet. You could also pack:
Familiar toiletries, like shampoo, soap and toothpaste (so your child can have the usual smells and tastes)
A washcloth and towel with a texture you know your child will tolerate
A change of clothes
Fine motor and visual-motor based activities, like coloring books with scented markers, a travel-size Etch A Sketch, or a squishy or textured handheld ball
Your child’s favorite music on a mobile device
Gummy or crunchy snacks (like fruit snacks or pretzels)
Straws or a water bottle with a straw/spout
A sensory travel kit is just one way to help your child handle sensory overload. There are plenty of other strategies you can try. Learn ways to manage meltdowns and tame tantrums. You may also want to read about a mother’s own sensory meltdown, and how it helped her understand what her children experience.