Traveler Story: ‘My 5-Year-Old Autistic Son Has Been To 28 Countries And 6 Continents
Tiffany Brown was a traveler well before her son Caleb was born, and things haven’t slowed down. Now, she and her husband travel just as much with their autistic son. At only 5-years-old, Caleb has been to 30 states, 28 countries and 6 continents.
Her first adventure with Caleb came when he was only 3-months old. She wanted to take him to a beach, so she chose Puerto Rico— especially since there were no passport requirements for entry.
From there, she says she pretty much made it routine so that traveling would become second-nature for Caleb.
“When I was younger, my mother didn’t travel often with me,” Tiffany Brown shared with Travel Noire. “I really got into traveling in my 20s. When I had my son, I told myself I would definitely make sure I traveled with him.”
Caleb was diagnosed with a low-level autism in 2019, when he was just 3-years-old. He is verbal, but his mother says he has some speech delays. Either way, this doesn’t hold the Brown family back from seeing the world.
“Yes, I have an autistic son, and at times it can be difficult. But, I have learned that at the end of the day, kids will be kids, whether they’re autistic or not. My son may have meltdowns occasionally, but all children do. Also, there are children in every country in the world, so even if my son has a moment, people tend to understand. They may stop and stare, but it doesn’t bother or affect me.”
Although he may not remember every detail from every trip, Tiffany says that it’s all about creating lifelong memories with Caleb. She keeps memory books from their family adventures, that she hopes he will look back on one day, and say ‘I remember that.’
She has also noticed that as they travel more, and Caleb becomes older, his social skills are improving, and he’s becoming more confident and independent.
“When we travel, he’s able to interact with children from other places, and it is helping his social skills tremendously. Now that he is older, he is also becoming more vocal about the activities or things he wants to see on trips, so I make sure to plan things that are of interest to him, too.”
The key to successful trips for the family is preparation. As Tiffany shared, “I pack everything but the kitchen sink.”
Some key items that Tiffany packs when traveling alone with her son are: a collapsible wagon, small toys to keep Caleb occupied on the plane, but also don’t disturb other guests, his favorite snacks, extra sets of clothing in case of unexpected accidents, and a large roller book bag that can hold everything.
“My son is tall now, even at 5, so instead of a stroller I now have a wagon that I pack for each trip. It comes in handy, and I honestly can’t imagine traveling without it now. It’s a way for him to sit down in a controlled space, while still being on the go. He also has his own backpack that he brings, too.”
Tiffany hopes that by sharing her experience of traveling with her autistic son, it will inspire other parents— whether their children have autism or not— to get out and see the world with their kids.
“I want people to be able to say, ‘wow, if she can do it with a child with autism, I can surely travel with my child who doesn’t have autism.’”
Later this year, Tiffany will release a book that will serve as a resource for other parents wanting to travel more with their kids. She plans to share all of her tips and tricks that work when she’s away with Caleb.
You can follow more of the Brown family adventures or reach out for questions via their Instagram page: @aroundtheworldkid.