Special needs is a growing problem when traveling. Having a family member with special needs can be incredibly difficult. Not only can your daily routine be affected, but it can also affect relationships, education, employment, and life skills. Many times, the caregiver or family member, can feel overwhelmed. I have spoken to many family members who feel like they can’t take a vacation with their entire family. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible!
Traveling with a family member who has special needs will require a different planning process than the typical family. Will the family member be able to handle an airplane, train, or boat ride? How long of an airplane ride will they be comfortable with? Where is the destination? Is it inside domestic or international and will a passport be required? If a family member with special needs requires additional attention or considerations, will I be able to have a break? How can I prepare my family member for this trip?
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has been trained for special needs through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), meaning they are certified as being autism-friendly. Their kid’s program staff has been trained in autism-awareness, they have additional features for these family’s that include priority boarding and disembarkation, special movie screenings that are sensory-friendly, a toy exchange program, and an accommodating staff onboard. They have cruises that leave from Galveston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, and many other locations.
Beaches Resorts is one of my favorite destinations for families with special needs. They are the set of family friendly resort related to the Sandals Resorts that are adult-only. They have also been certified through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), but their entire staff of the facility has gone through this training. They are an all-inclusive resort, so the room, food, tips, entertainment, kid’s program, and airport transportation are all included in the cost. Their resorts are located in Jamaica – in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. What I like the best about the Beaches Resorts is the fact that they also offer one-to-one buddy services. It’s not only for children, but it’s also for adults! All of these “buddies” have been trained in working with people who have special needs. So, if your family member who has special needs is an adult, you have the chance for respite and time to yourself during this vacation as well. The cost starts at $7 an hour and it’s offered 24 hours a day. If you have more than one family member with special needs or want to travel in a group, they have plenty of buddies available. They are also wheelchair accessible, including the beach.
If you have a family member with limited mobility, there are companies that offer equipment rental. This can range from wheelchair or scooter rentals, to a hospital bed or lift system, to oxygen equipment and dialysis equipment. These rentals are available on almost any cruise, many domestic destinations, and some international destinations. You don’t have to let a limitation stop you from traveling!
For more information about accessible travel or traveling with special needs, contact:
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