Planning a Vacation with Children that have Disabilities
Destination: Cancun and the Riviera Maya
How busy will it be? Is it kid friendly? The size or room and how many beds are available. Do they have porta cribs? Can my son use his walker at this location. How hard will it be for him to use it at this location? If he couldn’t I might not be able to stay here because of the rocks. How different is the weather at location Vs. my home. Would it be safe or logical to take my child with Asthma and allergies here?
How Far from this Location is a hospital. Would I be able to stay at the hospital with my child if anything happened. Some hospitals your not allowed to stay in room with your children. It is a MUST that I be able to. Will the hospital take my insurance? If so, how much would my CO payment be if something happened?
Will their be a lot of drinking at this location? If so some may not notice your child is disable and *run* over them.
Would we be able to take our own taxi or do we have to share. With disable children it is very important they feel safe in their own space. Sharing a cab may cause problems and could cause the child to be scared and uneasy the rest of the trip. If we had to take a bus could my son have his walker on board? Are there handicap seats available. If so how many?
Hotel & Arrangements:
Would we be able to stay on the first floor? I would first call the hotel and explain to them my children’s special needs. If they do not give me a direct answer on if they could house us I would not book there. If they acted rude, uncaring or like this may be an issue I would move on. How far would the hotel be from the hospital? I would need to be close to a hospital at all times.
Is there phones in the room? If not, I would not stay there. A hotel room can often help children unwind after a long day.
Is their anything my children would be able to do at this location? Are their games for children? If so, I would speak to the person holding these games. Explain my children’s special needs. If they act as if my children being disable would cause any kind of problem I would not go to this location.
Would it be a problem my son using his walker? If so, I would pass right away. I would also check and make sure it is not so cluttered so he wouldn’t run in to everything. If they are not able to tell me right away my son could use the items he needs I would pass. Whenever possible, obtain Priority Seating for meals and consider asking for a table near an exit or window.
It is very important to make sure no matter where you go they are equipped for disabled people, this means the flight there, the cabs, hotel/motel and restaurants you will be eating all. The ALL have to be equipped for the disable.
Plan in advance and understand the cancellation policy of the airline and hotel (if your child becomes sick you may be out of a lot of money). Check with medical supply companies at your destination to see if you can rent rather than take your own equipment.
If your child uses a wheelchair and you will be vacationing at a beach, be aware that the sand and saltwater can cause the metal parts of the chair to corrode. Most major beaches offer the use of an all terrain wheelchair, such as the Landeez, at no charge. These chairs are made of PVC piping and have buoyant wheels, so they glide easily over the sand and will float in the water. Check with the beach patrol for availability.
Get a list of doctors and hospitals in the area where you will be going from your child’s doctor. If traveling a long ways by car, get hospital names and phone numbers for the major cities along the way. Contact the city’s chamber of commerce, the hotel, and/or the entertainment park that you will be visiting for accessibility information. Make sure to take a list of all medication the child is on. Also have the doctors names, address and number wrote down on more then one paper. Carry this with you at ALL times. On same paper have emergency contact information. Have child’s name, illness and age on this as well. Make sure to take lots of snacks and drinks with you. Your child’s favorites, this can help a lot!
If you are driving, take a bag full of toys, books, coloring pages and a Walkman. Give the child a new toy or book each hour. This will keep the child busy for a while and they will not get as bored. If the child is unable to “play” with toys or read bring CD’s and change them every 30 minutes. Sing the songs with the child. This will keep their mind off the long trip (this can be used for flying as well). Most of all remember children, disabled or not, do not do well on long trips. If driving stop every 2 hours and allow the child to run and play. If they cannot run and play take them outside and sit for 15 or 20 minutes. This will take longer to get to your location but will keep the child happy.
If you can take a VCR or a DVD Player *portable with built in TV*. They can watch their favorite shows or listen to them. This will keep them busy for a while. Remember, children WILL need a break. If flying, take a Walkman with tapes or CD’s, this will keep the child’s mind off of being in the air. Take treats depending on how long you will be in the air depends on how many. Take a lot of different kind and let the child chose what they want. You can also ask you Dr. to give you something to relax your child on the trip. If you decide to do this get a written letter from the Dr. to have with you at all times. Be realistic when planning a trip with a disable child or any child for that matter. Things will come up and plans will change. Try to have at least 2-3 activities you would be able to do if one falls threw. Do not get upset. This will cause the child to get upset. Just go on and go to the next activity.
Remember you can always play games until the next activity is available. Do not let it ruin your trip if you have to just change plans. Most important, ask your children what they would want to do while at this trip. Do not assume they would like to go swimming or they would like to go to the Zoo. Ask them after all this is a vacation.
Important things to remember:
Child’s Birth Certificate, Shot Records a note from Dr. explaining your child’s heath *incase the child has to be taken to the hospital. The doctors there will not be aware of your child’s issues so this is important. It can save your child’s life. Yes, you can explain to the Dr. your child’s health issues but in a panic you may leave something out.
Take with you your child’s favorite toy, blanket and clothing. This will comfort them If they have a favorite cup or sippy cup be sure to bring that as well, you can order drinks at the restaurant and have it put in their cup!
If your child is Autistic or has sensory issues be sure to have your Dr. write a letter on Letter head explaining your child cannot wait in long lines due to this. This will help if you are doing anything that would require waiting in line( riding rides and such.) If your child is Autistic or has sensory issues it is likely they will love the sandy beach so be sure to plan plenty of times during the day for that!