“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love traveling and I have been very fortunate to come from a family that also loves to travel. My dad would plan trips and find places to go since we were young children. He taught me the love of maps, roads and knowing where you are. My husband loves that I am so good with maps (especially the years before GPS) and was able to help us navigate when we would move from one location to another without missing a beat.
My mom is the one who got me into learning the history of the places, why and how they came about, their importance in commerce and history. She is an economist so her view is always that places are always important because they provide something that was not there before.
For me aside from enjoying the trip and the history of the places I have been to, I love documenting I’ve been there, eating the local flare, going to the places the locals go for shopping and entertainment. I love taking pictures although I am not a very good photographer, I like documenting my journey through life.
Moving for vacation is different from moving permanently to a new residence, however, when we are moving with a child with a disability, be it for a vacation or a new place we want to make sure that their routines, health and comfort is taken care of.
Most professionals recommend that children with special needs have some sort of routine to assist the child to feel secure and safe as well as provide an environment where the child can develop new skills. Most of us have routines for when things happen at home. Most of us have a set wake up and sleep time, time for meals, play, bath, medicine, etc. When on the road, try to adhere to these routines as much as possible. Some professionals also encourage parents to prepare the child with special needs with a new routine that will only happen during the trip. One of my friends said that she and her husband would choose to put their children to sleep in easy to travel clothes so they could just put the children in their car seats early in the morning. They would stop for breakfast after they had been on the road for a while and make sure they stopped around 3 in the afternoon to allow the kids to run in a park or at the hotel pool to make sure their trip provided the children the feeling of a vacation before they arrived to their new place.
This is something that can be done before and during the trip. Before one of our moves my girls wanted to make sure they would be able to do their Girl Scouting activities as well as continue dancing. Prior to our move, I made those calls and was able to reassure our girls that we had found a studio and a troop for them to be part of. The feeling of continuity was something I had not thought of before. It is hard enough being the “new kid” at school. I also know of a family that found out where the ice skating rinks were in route to their new home and they made sure their kids had a good time by stopping by and skating while on the road. It all depends on what you and your family wants to do.
My biggest concern when we move or go on vacation is having enough medication to last until we get to our new place. Insulin is not something I can pick up over-the-counter, so making sure I have enough is pretty important. The other reason is because it might be a while before you find the doctor who will be able to see your child and continue the protocols, medications or treatments they have been receiving before you moved. I would also recommend you talk to your child’s doctors and specialists before moving to see how they can assist you during the move and while you find new doctors for your child.
If your child is like mine, they have their favorite toys. Before our moves we have secured a PO Box at our new location so we can start forwarding our bills, letters, etc. The other thing we did was pack a box of our girl’s favorite toys. I made a big production of it by telling the girls that they toys were going on a “reconnaissance mission” to make sure everything was perfect for when we got there. I took advantage of them liking the Toy Story movie to help me with this task. Of course I picked up some green Army men and sent them along in the box.
Our country is beautiful, but if you live in the South and are moving up north, well, you might be in for some different weather, likewise if you are moving from the north to the south. I had never lived in an area that had clear seasons until I moved to New York State. I had to learn to drive in the snow, shovel the white stuff and learn to dress in layers. Moving to where we live now has been wonderful not having to work with snow, but we sure do need to wear sunscreen and drink water no matter what time of the year it is.
This may not seem like a big deal but if you have a child that has a compromised immune system, breathing problems, asthma, or any other condition that are aggravated by weather, their triggers may become more frequent or different from before. Also, if you are traveling with medication that is sensitive to temperature, you will have to take precautions so the medication does not lose their effectiveness.
Flying, driving, both
The mode of transportation you chose to travel will be a challenge depending on the condition or disability of your child. Check with your doctor and see what would work best for them or recommend. A letter from your doctor may also help you get supports when trying to find the best accommodations on planes and hotels. If you are flying, check with the airlines and find out what accommodations they can offer you and your family. Likewise when driving, ask your doctor what a good routine looks like, is there a time limit for your child to be in the car seat, what you need to plan for should you have an emergency, what to keep in with you to ensure that you can manage unforeseen emergencies.
In addition to the ideas we shared above, I have a small list of things my daughter never travels without. They have become our comfort creatures. I’m pretty sure all parents have something like this for themselves and your children. We start with our favorite pillow, her blanket. In addition her favorite backpack (Insert teen idol of the week) filled with her electronics (mp3 player, headphones, tablet and chargers, ) movies, glucose meter, glucose tablets, snacks, water bottle, wallet, female hygiene products, wet wipes. Lip balms, shades, hair brush, hair clips. You know your child best, so you will know what things will make their life easier and fun while they are away from home.
Traveling is an adventure, and like any adventure it should be a time of fun, discovery and growth. Happy trails.
Special Needs Travel mom blog – http://www.specialneedstravelmom.com/