Okay, so gone are the days of basking in the sun poolside without a care in the world because now you have kids. And with today’s travel challenges, much less negotiating on-the-go with children who have special needs, you might think your toes will never touch the sand again. Not so ombre!
As the special needs community becomes more present, many organizations are stepping up ways to capture our business. We have searched the net turning up stones and reading the fine print to bring you five top resources that will make your travel the best it can be. Listen, getting some rest on vacation is not only possible, but downright affordable. Now that’s what we’re talking about!!
Besides a free Autism Adventure Guide, https://autismtravel.com/autismadventureguide-signup-2021, this website has two killer search engines.
1 Find Certified Autism Travel Agents
Having a professional that knows our world is priceless. With AutismTravel.com, it couldn't be easier!
2 Locate Autism-friendly Places
Through IBCCES certification across four areas of excellence, you can search for options that have facilities and personnel who are trained in-depth on special needs clientele. Since IBCCES certifications are ever evolving, check back periodically to see what is new. And if a property you seek doesn’t show up in the results, shoot them a message to raise awareness.
TWO: TSA Cares and Wings
Consider this your fast pass through airport security! I call TSA Cares every time we are traveling. All you need to do is call 72 hours in advance and when you arrive a the security checkpoint, tell the person your there for TSA Cares support. They will move you through the process as quickly as possible, even if there are long lines. I am local to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and we have always had a good experience. TSA Cares is in all US airports and it is staple to helping out families with special needs considerations. Add TSA Cares to your contacts, 855-787-2227 and TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov, and you’ll be ahead of the game. You can get more information about them through their website here.
The Arc's Wings for Autism
Keep an eye out for The Arc’s Wings for Autism program. Wings gives families and airport personnel “rehearsal” experience for special needs travel. The events familiarize our families with the security process, aircraft boarding (um, the plane doesn’t take off dang it!), and in-flight safety. Right now, the program is on good ole Covid-hold, but do sign up on the Arc’s email list to get future notifications. Events are independent by Arc chapter. Find out more about the program here.
Three: Free Cruise Anyone?
Autism of the Seas provides support through vacation financial assistance or grants to
make a cruise a possibility for those in need of a some sunshine and peace. As a family, we have been fortunate to travel by sea and I’ll never forget the pure relief of dropping the kids off with the ship’s supervised care knowing they were competent to take care of my child with special needs. Cruise lines, especially Royal Caribbean, have embraced Autism, employing specialists and teams trained in the nuances of our special world, so we can get a break. Love it!! Link is above.
Four: Calling All Moms, Dads, & Military… Get Your Free Respite Here!
This non-profit is committed to the proactive health care of special needs parents and caregivers through frequent and affordable respite retreats. Find out how A Mother's Rest is redefining respite for parents, caregivers, and military personnel here.
Five: Last And Definately Not Least… Enjoy Our USA!
Click this link... America the Beautiful - National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass | USGS Store
and for only $10.00 you can get an access pass to all national parks in the US of A! That is 423 national parks across 84 million acres… crazy right? So, pack up the car for a bit of R&R and head out on adventure. Not only will you gain entry into America’s most majestic lands, you’ll also gain peace of mind just by getting outdoors. Check out these favorite destinations just 1 to 2.5 hours from Baltimore.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Great Falls National Park
Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park
Bonus: Travel Without Leaving Home!
Below are some great top picks of live webcams and virtual tours to keep your family creatively entertained.
Beaches in the U.S.: Watch live footage of the beaches and boardwalks of America!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Check out this magical dolphin habitat!
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: Explore this national park created by the US's most active volcano!
Explore.org: Calling all animal lovers!
Metropolitan Museum of Art: View the Met's unique exhibits virtually!
Philadelphia Zoo penguin exhibit: Everybody loves penguins! Sit back and enjoy the fun of Penguin Point!
San Diego Zoo: Watch 12+ animals of the San Diego Zoo (Polar Bears included)!
Yellowstone National Park: Get scenic park views through nine live webcams.
Click here to see a full list!
Well, we hope you liked these resources. We sure had fund finding them for you. If you're a parent or caregiver with a child with special needs, feel free to click the below link to get support for simple home practices to #makeautismeasier. And as always, feel free to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram.
StepUp2Start helps #makeautismeasier. Visit our website and check out our services to learn how!