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Travelling as an Autistic

To be clear I have undiagnosed ADHD and Autism, how do I know this? Well screening with multiple therapists and discussion with my gender psychologist (who has worked with Autistic and ADHD patients a lot). Why haven’t I got a formal diagnosis? It’s really fucking hard when you travel and move around a lot. In the last 4-5 years where I have actually suspected I had it alongside depression/anxiety and other shit going on it’s honestly been a fight to just start antidepressants. However, that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is to outline the shit that’s helped me with public transport; trains, buses, and planes. As I have used all of them in 2021 and early this year. I know how stressful it is to prepare for something that honestly you don’t know how to prepare for.


First is the kit you need, from snacks to sound cancelling headphones. Here is a list of what I usually bring with me:


Sound Cancelling

Headphones are a usual part of an autistic artillery against being overstimulated by sounds. Even for someone with other neurodivergence it helps just removing stimuli that could be distracting. This is something that is a must when travelling. I do recommend getting a set of headphones but also noise cancelling ear plugs. Now hear me out, headphones are great for watching your favourite shows or listening to music or just to block out some sound. However, they are really uncomfortable for me to sleep in, and I personally struggle to wear them over my beanies/hats. So I suggest getting some ear plugs to dull out sound when you are trying to sleep or do whatever and you don’t necessarily want to wear your headphones. My partner got me some nice ones for christmas which I am wearing now as I am typing this on the train. They don’t eliminate all noise but they dull it out enough that I can tune it out. Also it is making it easier to hear the announcement lady over all the other noise.



Activities/Entertainment

You will need something to do, otherwise your mind might get busy and thus overwhelm you. For me right now it is writing this blog. Although I do bring music, a book to read, my most recent comfort show, and well work with me. This is something I do just so I can focus my energy onto something that isn’t going to make my mind uncomfortable. I can choose to zone out or engage with what I choose. So I insist that you bring something that comforts you to play during your journey. My best friend usually brings her nintendo switch which she plays either animal crossing or any other game on. If you do bring an electronic device remember to pack chargers and if you have one a power bank. You don’t want your devices dying on you mid journey.


Comfort Whatever

Whatever your comfort item is, a stuffie, blanket, hoodie. Bring it. I always bring my toothless dragon with me everywhere. My best friend has the matching one (Luna) and honestly hugging it helps calm me down. Having it near me makes me feel more calm and collected. If I end up stressing out, I have something to help focus on and collect my thoughts. Also it helps me go to sleep when I am staying overnight somewhere new. Also don’t worry about what others think. It is to help you, not them or anyone else. You are more important than what anybody thinks of some comfort item you have. We are in a time where we are normalising what it is like to be neurodivergent (not just autism and ADHD aka DAVE) so having a comfort item is part of that. If anything, keep it in your bag if you think you need to hide it from other people. The plus to that is it makes it harder to lose in the long run.


Food/Snacks

Snacks are a must. Regardless of the length of your journey, having something to snack on that you like is important. If you are unsure you will eat it before you get home or arrive at your destination, make sure it's something that will last. For this I usually pack lollipops and a homemade trail mix (literally just my fav nuts and dried fruits together with chocolate). Sometimes I include fresh fruit but honestly it can get forgotten about and that is really not helpful to you in the future. You could pack a muesli/energy bar, trail mix (like me), crisp/chips/popcorn, fruit roll ups, and so on. For longer journeys it really depends. Still pack the snacks above but on some planes that have customs things like fresh food is not allowed or even opened food. So I recommend just packing what you know you will eat especially on plan journeys. Trains and buses are less of an issue.


The Emergency Kit

So this is the thing that you pack for when shit hits the fan. Cos it might. This includes your

  • bank card & cash,

  • phone numbers written down,

  • menstrual kit for those with a uterus,

  • painkillers and other basic meds,

  • face masks - covid is a bitch also ewww germs,

  • first aid kit - not the whole shebang but plasters and so on help,

  • spare headphones

  • your important papers - tickets, passport, vaccine card

  • your journey written down - especially travelling by train makes it easier to figure out where to go during changes

These honestly have all helped me when travelling. If you are going on a plane and worried about lost luggage, well one I recommend packing clothes in your carry on. It at least relieves some anxiety. Plus I would add your medication to this if you are on any of it. At least a week’s worth or more depending on how hard it is to get if your luggage ends up missing.



Overall I really do hope this helps. If I feel like I have missed anything I will be updating this. If you think I have missed something, comment on the insta post or on here!! Really travelling as a Neurodivergent person is hard but there are so many tools that can help you remove the stress of travelling. Honestly the more I have done it, the more comfortable I get with it. I learn what to expect and it becomes less scary. Once you know what to expect and how to make the journey easier, then you will hopefully be travelling a lot more and explore the world. Or you might just need the courage to catch the bus. To each their own journey, there is no rush to meet any random standard. Just do what you need.



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