When traveling with a child (or adult) with special needs, there are a “few” extra things to pack and consider. We just arrived home from a long driving trip. We traveled over 3,000 miles by car. And we had our little Tubie along. We slept in three different locations, which is always a bit more difficult than getting to one place and staying there.
A key component of traveling well is to have containers that keep various supplies organized. I always have one tote bag with a zipper for medical supplies – sized according to our need. That is a bag I hope to NOT use but is there to avoid emergency rooms.
Then I have a few other containers – those bottles you use for taking smallish amounts of shampoo with you are great for the olive oil needed to lubricate the syringe plungers in bolus feeding. I keep that bottle as well as paper towels, clean tubes and syringes in an open plastic container that fits behind one of the car’s front seats. Then I keep a zip-type plastic bag in there for the used syringes and tubes, along with another small container of dishwashing liquid.
Another thing I take along is a small container of liquid bleach. I like to clean the hotel sink where I’ll be washing tubes and syringes. I also pour a bit into the washing water when the tube and syringe have been sitting around dirty for a while, growing bacteria.
In the trunk of the car, I keep a plastic bag that I can tie shut, for storing the clean (but now empty) food containers after I wash them at the hotel. I always run them through the dishwasher again when I get home because I feel better that way, but I like to be able to put them all in one place and keep them together in the car. Organization helps me!!
In that container behind the seat I also keep medicines I might need in transit – Dramamine and Tylenol – as well as a bottle of water (for flushing the tube and/or dissolving medicine) and a small cup to help in the process. We avoided motion sickness this trip, thanks to Dramamine. Otherwise we can count on Natalie upchucking at least once during a trip. Not fun.
I froze enough containers of food to last the duration of the trip (8 days) and packed them in two coolers – one was cooled with freezer packs and ice. The other had some ice and was intended to keep thawed food cold between feedings. The second cooler worked well.
The problem with coolers is that they cannot possibly keep food at zero degrees, which is the maximum desired temperature for keeping food frozen. No matter how much ice is in there, the food will begin to thaw. Although our cooler works very well for days at a time keeping things chilled, we needed more than that to keep Natalie’s food from beginning to spoil. Fortunately, our first destination was my in-law’s home 3 hours from our final destination. We put a few days of food in their freezer and picked it up on the way home. It was still all thawed by the time we got home!
I am going to experiment with dry ice and let you know how that goes. It is a tiny bit scary because it does displace oxygen and should be used in open space, which isn’t really what I am looking for. Additionally, since dry ice (actually frozen carbon dioxide) is at least 69 degrees BELOW zero, might it freeze the food SO hard that I have trouble thawing it? I will let you know the results of my experiment.
Of course, I also pack lots of paper, pens, markers, books, sunglasses, etc to keep my girlie-girl busy on the trip. Then I hand her a trash bag to pick up all her used paper so she helps clean up after we stop.
We had a great trip. Here’s a pic or two :