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How to Pack a Sensory-Friendly Travel Bag

Tips for packing a sensory friendly travel bag.

Learn to Think Sensory-Friendly

Sensory-seeking kids can be a challenge, there’s no question about it. In our 20 years of parenting, we’ve had more than a few wiggly-squiggly and (dare I say?) hyperactive kids. When Adalia was a sensory-seeking toddler, we had no idea what it meant or how to help. I’ll never forget the time in church, at not quite two years old, when she was hitting herself on the head with a hymn book as hard as she could…I am thankful that now that we are raising a few more sensory-seeking kids, we have more knowledge and resources. We feel so much more prepared for helping sensory-seeking kids.

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Tips for packing a sensory friendly travel bag.

Sensory-Friendly Bag for Our Van

After our weekend at Refresh last month, I came up with the idea of making a sensory-friendly bag to keep in our van. My kids with special needs have, well, special needs. And sometimes that means making accommodations in our home and family. This little travel bag is one way we are working to meet the sensory needs of all of our children.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

What’s In Our Sensory Bag

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Did you know blowing on pinwheels or bubbles is excellent for regulating breathing and for relaxation? 

Mini Pinwheels. I chose to put pinwheels in my bag because they don’t make a mess or noise. And in Apollo’s case, it helps him strengthen his lungs and practice for those tricky lung-function tests!

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Did you know evidence shows that chewing gum can relieve stress and anxiety in kids?  

Yes, it does and it can even improve scores in school! We do only sugar-free gum in our house. You will, of course, want to use discretion about whether or not gum is a good idea on a road trip for your particular children.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

The day Apollo wore this to school the first time, I emailed his teacher explaining what it was for. She had absolutely no problem with him wearing it and chewing on it, and it has saved his clothes!

If you aren’t brave enough to add gum, try a sensory necklace. A few months ago Apollo started chewing on his shirts and I wanted to nip that habit in the bud. Enoch was a shirt-chewer and ruined more clothes than I could keep track of. I bought one of these necklaces for Apollo and one for Mordecai. Apollo’s necklace looks like a LEGO brick and he loves chewing on it and Mordecai’s necklace looks like an animal claw and is cool enough to be worn to junior high.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

This Pull Stretch and Squeeze ball was my kids’ favorite. It looks like a ball, but is surprisingly stretchy and just feels so soft and squishy. Even I love holding this.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

This Spaghetti Ball is squishy and stretchy and soft and slithery all at the same time. When I bought this it had a strong chemical smell so I chose to place it outside for a few days. The smell has disappeared and this has become a favorite of the kids. It is soft and squishy and stretchy and most of all…quiet! It also happens to be my favorite toy out of the bag.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

This Isoflex Stress Ball is double lined with latex and filled with microbeads. It is durable and offers pleasant resistance for kids who seek deep pressure.

All of these items can fit in a small bag. We keep it in our van for long trips, short trips, and just plain difficult trips.

More Ideas for a Sensory-Friendly Bag

Weighted plush animal

Consider a weighted plush animal. It is a smaller alternative to a weighted blanket. They even have ones filled with lavender to promote relaxation.

Squigz

My son’s therapists have used these with him. They can be thrown, stuck to walls and windows, and be stuck together. These are perfect for travel and are in my Amazon cart just waiting for me to push the button.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones can be a real lifesaver for kids who are sensitive to noise. We are waiting on a pair on order for my son with autism.

Follow this link to check out my sensory-friendly list on Amazon.

Do you have any sensory-seeking kids? What are your favorite tips? Have any travel ideas?

13 Comments

  1. thissquirrelsnest

    I love the necklace idea. Kestrel has become “chewy” lately. I think either in connection to her brother who chews and bites his lovey for comfort or as a delayed oral development phase. She’s eating better. I too was a sleeve chewers and I love the idea of her having something special to chew.

    We are working on mindfulness and derp breathing meditation skills and I think the pinwheels would be a great tool to add to our “angry bag” of tricks.

    Jasper is very much a sensory seeker and loves to chew the velcro straps of shoes. So much so that he has begun chewing on shoes of people we don’t know! While their shoes are on their feet. Now that he has most of his teeth that seems to subside.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I hope some of these resources help. And as for Jasper chewing on shoes…ew! I’ve had kids do that too. Maybe he’d enjoy a teething necklace as well.

  2. Tarynkay

    Yes! My 4 year old is like this. He is always putting things in his mouth- buttons, coins, small toy, rocks… All chocking hazards all the time. I told him I would get him a teething ring if he wanted to chew on stuff so badly. And he said, yes, please, I really want one. But this is not something he can really take to school. Maybe I should give him gum? Is 4 too young for gum? Those necklaces seem like a great idea, though.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Some four year old can handle gum, some can’t. I would give the necklaces a try. They have a huge selection and they don’t look babyish. I would give the gum a try at home too.

  3. Katie

    I used to hand out pipe cleaners to kids who wiggled in my classroom. It was silent and could be reused or tossed if needed. Some kids just need to move and create!

  4. huppiemama

    I was a special education teacher for 10 years and worked with many children who had sensory processing disorder. This travel bag would’ve been great for them. Thanks for the suggestions! #client

  5. Maria from Collecting Moments

    I love these ideas. What interesting facts about each item. The fact that blowing bubbles and on pinwheels can stimulate great breathing and relaxation is fascinating! I’ll have to remember that for the summer with my daughter. Thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips with us on #shinebloghop. It’s such a pleasure to have you 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      You’re welcome! I can’t wait to take these on long drives. I think it will really help with boredom and fighting.

  6. Del

    My little brother, who is ADHD, had a habit of putting LEGO in his mouth and chewing it – we were so scared of him swallowing it as he was only 6 at the time, and the rest of us weren’t very happy about him ruining our LEGO either, so our mum bought him some chew bracelets and necklaces online and they worked fantastically.

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