Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Adaptive Vacationing

06/09/2015 | Published by: Barbara Knighton

Vacation.  Just the word instills excitement.  Many people go on at least one family vacation a year.  This annual trip can still continue to happen and be an enjoyable experience for all, but advanced planning is necessary. 

Aside from making a budget, one has to do some additional research.  It is difficult to find a location that has amenities for everyone.  Many resorts and family friendly attractions are accessible and very accommodating.  To make sure the one you’re considering meets your family’s needs, just give them a call. If you do not feel comfortable doing this legwork yourself, a travel agent who works with families of children with disabilities can be a big help.  Some resorts offer child care for children with a disability, as long as they do not have extreme behaviors.

Start by making small trips to familiar, close-by attractions to see how your child does.  Always allow additional time and be flexible.  Call and find out when the best times to visit are and what the typical weather is.  Many children have heat intolerance and are affected by storms and pressure changes.  Weather can make or break your vacation. 

If your family enjoys the outdoors, consider renting a cabin or RV or going camping.  Some options to consider may be lower cost vacations that allow you to remain in the same place and bring your own food.  Try to find hotels that offer free breakfast and have refrigerators in the room.  Some hotels offer refrigerators only upon request, so be sure to ask if you need one. 

If you have more than one child, allow the child without a disability to pick something that he or she wants to do so they feel included.  If you are worried about needing first responders, call the location you’re considering and ask to speak to the manager.  They may know the response time or be able to give you the number to the local fire department.  It is always better to be prepared. 

My son was too medically involved to travel the first five years of his life.  As he became more stable, we began to visit distant in-state relatives and eventually branched out to visit neighboring states.  Three years ago, we drove to Santa Barbara, California.  After this very long car ride, we discovered our son loves road trips.  So, we took him to see the Grand Canyon this year. 

He also loves hotel rooms.  It is his own form of a new experience.  He could stay at a local hotel and have a great time!  My son loves the outdoors and playing outside, but his heat intolerance and year round school schedule limits when we can go on vacation. 

Now that we know what he likes, we can plan trips focusing on his love of trains, road trips and the great outdoors.  Planning vacations has been a learning experience.  Everywhere we go, we learn a new trick that helps us plan our next vacation.  It is important to allow yourself and your family this downtime, even if it is only a “staycation.”  You can always be a tourist in your own hometown. 

For additional ideas, you might want try the Connecting with Other Parents or find events or programs for your child nearby by going to Find Services, Groups & Events on this website.

If planned well, vacationing with your child with a disability can be a memorable experience that every family member can enjoy.