The BIG questions when planning a vacation.

QuestionsTaking a vacation is a project that needs careful planning for anybody. It needs even more thought for our families.

Start with the BIG questions. Who ? When ? What ? Where ? And How ? For families traveling with autism, “how” is the toughest question but finding the best answers to the others may help with answer that one. In fact, the answer to one of these questions may have an impact on the other questions.


Who ?  It’s obvious, isn’t it ? It’s you and your child ! (Children, if you have more than one.) Hang on a moment though.  Many families travel together with members of their extended family. If you can bring your parents, your in-laws, your brother or sister (and their family), you do two things.  You create a family gathering. More importantly, you take part of your support network with you. If family aren’t available, how about traveling with friends and their families ?

Here’s where “who” can affect “how”. What if your in-laws want to go but live on the other side of the country ? It may make arrangements a little more complex. Still do it though. That support is invaluable.

When ? For most of us, the answer is during school breaks. Those times are usually a little more crowded and they are more expensive but so much of our support is tied around the school calendar that we don’t have a lot of choice. Of course, many parents need to take account of work schedules and, if you are a teacher, you’re doubly bound by the school calendar.

“What” can certainly impact “when”. You’re not going to find much by way of snowboarding in July ! And swimming at the Jersey Shore in January may not be so much fun. Can “who” affect “when” ? It sure can. If your brother-in-law is coming and he is employed as a Mall Santa, you won’t want to go between Thanksgiving and Christmas !

What ? This has a big impact on where. Let’s use our snowboarding example again. You’re not going to want to go to Florida. More seriously, this is a truly big question. What sort of activities do you want to form part of your vacation ? It always makes sense to think this way around rather than pick a destination and then try to figure out what to do when you get there.

It may pay to take a look back to our posting about recreation as therapy(see Archives). The point that we were making there is that it will help to “sample” as many recreational activities as you can. There will be activities that just don’t work for your child but there will be some that do. If you can find a new activity where your child enjoys both success and fun, you’ll have a great vacation. So try to strike a balance. Look for activities that they already enjoy and the chance to try something new.

Where ? Part of the answer will certainly come from “what”. Match desired activities to a destination that provides them. A smaller part of the answer may come from “when”. If, as many children on the spectrum do, your child doesn’t do well with crowds, you may want to look for destinations that are “off season” at the time you are traveling.  This is one of the reasons that we think highly of some of the ski resorts in summer. They’re out of season, they’re certainly not crowded but they do offer lots of different activities in order to get people there.

“Who” could just have an impact. For you and your child, you probably want non-stop flights and it would be nice if they were shorter flights rather than longer ones. But what about those in-laws across the country ? They won’t want to come if their only option is a triple connection that takes 24 hours ! You may just need to figure a “where” that works for all concerned.

How ? This is the big one and, sorry, we just don’t have the space to answer it here. The answers here are in many of our previous postings (Flying to See Janet, Which Flight ? Which Seat ?, Airport Practice Boarding Programs, just to name a few). They are all available to you in the Archives. There will be many more answers in future postings.  If you aren’t already subscribed for our updates, this would be a good time to do so. Just fill in the form on the right side-bar.


If you simply can’t wait for your ”how”, call us and ask us !

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