How Autism Impacts On Holidays

Image shows a woman dressed in hot weather clothing with her thumbs up. Alongside the image is a title that reads Autism how autism impacts on holidays

Holidays- whether they be long, lazy days relaxing in the sun or exhilarating explorations of foreign lands, they are sure to be enjoyed- aren't they?

A holiday for some is a welcome break from normality and routine. For me a break from routine is akin to torture. I cannot fully explain to those who don't adhere to routine as strictly as I do how much it pains me to stray from my everyday habits. I need my daily rituals to survive and a holiday is just one long stream of exhaustion. Spontaneity is my arch nemesis and that makes holidaying, especially with other people, extremely difficult.

Image of a young couple wearing warm winter clothing holding hot drinks on a boat in front of the statue of liberty in New YorkI desperately want to enjoy an alfresco cocktail that isn't meticulously planned in advance and yes that spontaneous boat trip does sound adorable but I'm afraid I just cannot do it. There are times when I hate how I have to approach a holiday and the post holiday blues for me are a mixture of guilt at stopping others having fun, exhaustion from pushing myself too far and sadness that I am the way I am but I still keep going away. Why? because I want to see the world. I want to step outside my comfort zone and I want to embrace the opportunities I get given even if they do feel like they are slowly killing me. So how do I approach a holiday? 

I take my routines with me.

Whilst it isn't always possible to take my exact routine with me I can usually take some resemblance of it, whether that is meal times, specific outfits, methods of doing things etc. Over the years I have developed my own routines for specific types of holiday. Beach holidays involve set meal times, set times for sunbathing and reading and then going to the room for a siesta before dinner, which in my case is a break from being social and a chance to recoup before I have to go out again. All inclusive package holidays work really well for me as they tend to be predictable regardless of where you go, though now I've been diagnosed as Coeliac, that may make this type of holiday more difficult. 

City breaks usually involve a snacky breakfast in the hotel room whilst I get ready for the day in the same way I do at home then it's sight seeing (pre-planned!) and a meal out (that I've researched in advance) and then back to the hotel with some snacks whilst relaxing in the hotel room. I find that I need to sleep a lot more on city breaks as visiting tourist attractions takes a lot social energy and as it's nearly always a case of visiting somewhere you've never been before I am always operating on peak anxiety. 

Image of a young couple standing high up in the notre dame cathedral paris france
I plan events in advance and allocate time slots.

I love to research activities, sights to see and day trips to take when going away somewhere. Even if the activity can't be booked in advance and scheduled, I can mentally book it in my head and get myself mentally prepared for it.

I eat at my usual times, in restaurants that I've read about and I order from menus I've already seen online. I do everything I can to minimise my anxiety so that I stand a better chance of actually enjoying what I'm doing. It is frustrating having to be so controlled all the time though.

 I only travel with 'safe' people.

There are two types of people in my world. Safe people not only know I have autism but they also respect that I have autism. I've holidayed with people who know I have autism but have never bothered to understand how it effects me. Those holidays were full of tears and isolation. I don't do that anymore. I go away with people who respect my wishes. I'm not saying I need to be the centre of their holiday. Simply allowing me to go home whilst they continue to party is enough. 

Whilst it may not sound like the ideal holiday,  these methods have helped me to add some structure and predictability to an uncertain aspect of life and I am very grateful as it means I've been able to see the world. I've enjoyed girls holidays in Ibiza and I've stood in Central Park as a new year dawned. I'm lucky to have such amazing experiences and I'm lucky that I have the opportunity to travel with people who love and understand me and don't mind their holidays being meticulously planned.

How do you approach your holidays?

 Thanks For Reading 

Katrina Fox UK based parenting blogger. Writing about Coeliac / celiac disease, Aspergers Syndrome and Autism, Pregnancy, Parenting and both Childrens and Adults Books

Please see my sidebar for details of where this post maybe linked.


  1. I will bear this in mind as we prep for our holiday with our little girl that is thought to be autistic. I am going to think about what I can keep the same for her to make her feel safer #MischiefAndMemories

  2. Ahhh it's always best to go away with people who understand. I'm a planner and also feel much better when things are planned out. Especially holidays. It can be loosely planned, but I feel all antsy if it's not. I'm known for always having 'a list' to hand at home haha! Thank you for joining us for #mischiefandmemories xx

  3. Great to have your personal insights. I like to have everything planned in meticulous detail with back up plans included so that I feel comfortable and confident to face the day. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories


Thank you for supporting me on my journey to raise awareness about mothers on the autistic spectrum. We do exist, we just need people to know we do!

Popular Posts