Autism and backpacking: how will I manage

As I said in my previous blog. Walking calms me down and helps me regulate my emotions. But that is not to say that there are no challenges about hiking and thru-hiking with autism. In this blog, I will go into a little more detail about how I hope to manage my thru-hike with the problems I face. I hope this will help give some tips to people out there with the same struggles.



Walking in a quiet forest, in peace with everything around you, your mind at ease. And then suddenly the sounds of cars, lights flashing by, surrounded by herds of people. Just the thought of it lets me shrink into a little ball of misery. Unfortunately (especially in Europe) nature is really shattered. And walking for days in a forest without coming across a city just isn’t possible. 

There are a few things I do to combat this. For one I always have my headphones on the outside of my pack. They are these big yellow work headphones with an autism sticker on them. You can also wear earbuds but I find that headphones give me a sense of safety that earbuds just can’t achieve. 

My sunglasses are also always accessible in my Bum Bag to combat the visual stimuli. I find them not only useful in cities but also when the sun is standing low and flashing through the trees.  

When I get overstimulated I need something to calm me down. Ofcourse I have my therapy dog Appie for this but something that extra that helps me out a lot are listening stories. In my daily life I always cary an MP3 with audiobooks on in for just in case. And of course I will bring my so trusted MP3 on the trail too. 

And last but not least for when I get overstimulated I always bring a comfort stuffed animal (and Appie my therapy dog). It can sound childish but for someone with autism, a comfort item can be very important. I decided to bring a monkey stuffed animal with me on the GR5. Because autism aside, weight is still a thing and this is one of my lighter stuffed animals. It hasn’t got a name yet so if you have suggestions comment them down below! 


autism essentials

autism essentials



Communication isn’t my strong suit and that is the case for a lot of people with autism. I struggle with selective mutism, which means that there are situations where I just can’t manage to talk. This is (a lot of the time) the case when I meet people I don’t know (which is very frustrating because I like meeting new people). 

When I’m unable to talk I’m learning to communicate by writing things down or using an app on my phone that reads my writings out loud. I’m still learning to use it and sometimes forget that it is an option. But I always have my support team at home for when I’m stuck. I can send them a text and call them so they can do the talking for me.

If something would happen to me I have my Garmin inreach mini. I can’t telephone with people but my parents are my emergency contact so I know that they will be called if I press the SOS and everything will be alright. 

And last but not least. I have my sunflower lanyard ready for when communication doesn’t work out. The sunflower lanyard stands for hidden disabilities. There is a card attached to it that explains I have autism and selective mutism. There is also an emergency number on it. Having this card gives me a peace of mind. 


sunflower lanyard




Transportation is hard for me. I can’t drive the car and taking public transport is hell. With all its people, noises, and uncertainties I try to avoid it. But I’m lucky enough to have an amazing support team. My father will bring me to the trailhead and pick me up at the end of the thru-hike. I also know that if I have problems on the way my parents will try everything to come and get me. 

There will be two points where I will need to take public transportation. On these parts, I count on my therapy dog, headphones, sunglasses and audio books to get me through. 

me surviving public transport

me trying to survive public transportation


Food is another problem… I can’t go into stores by myself without breaking down. But food is kind of essential while thru-hiking. Another problem is that I’m intolerant to milk and gluten. So even if I could go shopping there’s a lot I can’t eat. Or in other words, not a lot I can eat.

I will be working with resupply boxes that I can pick up on the way. They will be available in automates where I don’t have to talk to people. And again this is possible due to my amazing support system. My mom will send every box when it’s time. I will be working with resupplies every seven days to minimize the stress of it.


I hope this gives you some inspiration on how to manage backpacking with autism. As you can see there are a lot of tips and tricks. But I trust a lot on my support team at home. And I am very grateful to have them. I don’t think I could do it without them.

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Comments 4

  • Dee Nerem : Mar 18th

    Hi Lonit,
    You mentioned your food restrictions so I thought I would pass on information about Aaron at backcountry foodie. She is a thru hiker who is also a dietician, and she sends out resupplies to hikers, many who have restrictions like you. She also has information on how to resupply in places other than grocery stores. I look forward to following along with you on the trek. You got this. Dee

  • Jared : Mar 19th

    Wow, it takes a great deal of courage to do what you’re doing, and I’m glad you have such an amazing support team and a solid plan! It’s truly inspirational, and I wish you the very best on your journey! Safe travels and happy hiking! Oh, and for the monkey, can’t go wrong with Donkey Kong (DK for short)! ✌️

  • Elana : Mar 20th

    Wonderfully written post! I am excited to follow your journey.

  • alexis mcallister : Mar 20th

    LONIT. Thank you for opening up your world to us. As a mom of an autistic young teen that backpacks with me, you have given me insight on how to make the journey even more enjoyable!

    He loves having a camera and taking pictures of things on the trail that he wants to paint later on. I love the lanyard, getting one immediately with his permission of course.

    Enjoy your journey


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