• Judy Miller, GEM Travel

Family Vacations - Traveling with an Autistic Child


SPONSORED BY: GEM TRAVEL CONSULTANTS

Every family desires and needs a vacation, but sometimes the logistics out way the energy needed to plan it. Vacations are to relax, re-energize and prepare to return to daily life. With some advance planning and the guidance of an Autism Certified Travel Agent, it is possible to have the perfect family vacation.

If your plans include air travel consider the length of the flight, the seating arrangement (eg. Near the rear of the plane or the extra-space seats) and look for direct flights whenever possible. If direct lights is not possible, look for shortest airport times between connections. Always prepare an in-flight bag with your child’s favorite toys, headphones for distraction and to noise-cancel the surroundings and gum to promote swallowing and equalizing the air pressure. Plan a “dry run” with the “TSA Cares” and “Wings for Autism”. Both groups allow for a pre-trip to the airport to let your child become comfortable with the security process so when the travel date arrives there is some familiarity.

Cruising is also a great option for a family vacation. It is probably a good idea to start with a shorter cruise for the first time, but as the child becomes familiar with the ship experience, longer cruises can be done. Pick your cruise line carefully and use one that has specialized childcare staff that is familiar with your child’s needs. Carnival and Disney are good choices with many different divisions of age groups.

The all-inclusive vacations give the family the flexibility for all members to be able to relax. Beaches All-Inclusive family resorts have gone the extra mile with their Sesame Street characters. This year they have added Julia!

Julia is a red-headed sweet, curious, shy autistic 4 year old. She has a little stuffed rabbit named “Fluffster” that is always with her for comfort. Her best friend is 3 year old Abby Cadabby, a fairy God-mother in training, who understands her special needs. Julia can relate to all children with autism because she understands them and has many of the same mannerism that they have. She also shows other children that she can play and be friends. She teaches children that she may take longer to make friends, but she knows how to do many things. It helps other children to be comfortable with children that are different than they are.

The travel industry is very aware of the needs of today’s families. No matter what makes your family unique, you can travel and know that it can be the relaxing time you desire for all. Talk to your travel professional who is well versed in all aspects of family travel with multiple resources.

Happy Traveling!

Gail & Judy Miller have been helping families travel for over 30 years! If you want more information on family cruises or Sandals Beach Resorts, visit their website www.GEMTravel.com or give them a call 941.951.0046 (don't forget to mention Family Living Magazine!)

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