active family travel,  family,  parenting,  Travel

I Vote For Special Needs Travel #travel

Disclosure Vote for Travel

One of the things I love most about travel is that travel is different things to different people and it is what you need it to be. It is slow, or fast, or multigenerational or empty nest, or foodie, or adventure. It can also be special needs travel. There are as many ways to travel as there are travellers. This month I am joining 30 other travel bloggers to celebrate all kinds of travel. It’s my second year doing this travel blogger series. You can read each of the amazing posts about travel on wordtraveling.com.



Special Needs Travel

My daughter, 4, boomerangs up and down the stairs to a waterslide meant for children much older. She has charmed a lifeguard in Jamaica into believing she can handle this and she does, repeatedly, beaming each time. By end of day they have nicknamed her Baby Girl and Fish.


In Cancun on the beach my beautiful brown-eyed girl, now 5, drives a baseball down the beach sending players scrambling. I am seated near enough to hear the little boys holler: “Man, that little girl can hit!” My heart swells.


In Punta Cana, I film my kids as they float above the beach dangling over the water, parasailing for the first time. “Is that a child up there?” I overhear this and smile. In a resort in Mexico my daughter teaches all the other children at kid’s club French. Later that day in the pool she makes friends with kids from all over the world.


There are an infinite number of reasons to vote for travel. But these are mine. I vote for special needs travel because I have a family and because my kids have unique needs.


Let me explain.


My children have so many strengths, and a few challenges too. They are my most rewarding experience and also my hardest one. When we first received our youngest daughter’s diagnosis our world got very small. Ainsley couldn’t tolerate noise, or change, or bright lights. She was forever screaming and having meltdowns. We changed her environment to help her cope. Our environment changed too, of course. We made schedules. We took her to all of the therapy appointments, and doctor’s appointments, specialists and assessments and even specialized dentistry. We spent countless hours advocating for support at school. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it failed. We tried harder. We tried differently. We missed other people’s parties, family functions, showers, and funerals. We were isolated and exhausted, physically, financially and emotionally drained. We were frazzled.


When we reached a plateau where we thought we might be gaining some ground, my other daughter went through a similar process. Summer assessments and weekly therapy were the norm. Missed work, missed school and many phone calls home in the middle of the day. We were drained, collapsing into bed every night. We set one foot in front of the other each day. One day at a time. But the problem with one day at a time is that you can never get ahead and you can never plan ahead. It’s a hard way to be in the world.


For years we didn’t dare to dream of traveling. It was out of reach – it seemed impossible. Both of our daughters’ needs were significant. And yet very slowly we got better at figuring them both out. We evolved into more creative people with an entirely different skill set.

I had loved traveling before we adopted our girls. I dreamed of bringing them with us and seeing different places, and cultures together. Somewhere in the midst of their diagnoses I wondered could we make it work again? My husband doubted we could. Travel with special needs on deck is dicey sometimes. But I kept wondering if not now then when? Managing special needs and parenting with special needs was just another part of our life. The diagnoses wouldn’t go away and my kids deserved to see the world as much as any other child without complex needs. In fact, I feel the case can be made that families with special needs NEED travel even more sometimes. It is essential to our wellbeing. Last year I wrote about how special needs travel is our respite. So we mapped out a way to build our kid’s tolerance for the changes that travel involves.

Read the rest of this post on Word Traveling today – http://wordtraveling.com/vote-special-needs-family-travel/

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a vacation to Fort Myers and Sanibel over on Word Traveling.com.

Make sure you click over to Wordtraveling.com and Cast your “Vote for Travel’ by entering the awesome $1500 vacation giveaway to the incredible Beaches of Ft. Myers/ Sanibel and to read more posts from other bloggers and family travel experts in our third annual series!

No purchase or real voting necessary!

Win a Fort Myers and Sanibel Getaway

Win a Getaway to Sanibel

*Terms and prize details can be found at WordTraveling

Click the image below to read the rest of my post and ENTER TO WIN:



Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Amanda

    I am so incredibly glad that resorts and other vacation destinations are getting on board with what other businesses are doing–accommodating families of all needs. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to not only travel but to live day to day before accommodations were put into place so that everyone can enjoy their experience. Thanks for putting this on my radar.

    • paula schuck

      Thanks for the comment Amanda. I agree. It should be standard really but it is wonderful to know that many resorts are doing so much better at making everyone welcome.

  • Gwendolyn Mulholland

    I totally agree with you that Special Needs Families need to travel and relax also. It is great that more and more people are becoming aware to these situations and working to accommodate. Kudos to you for doing what is best for not only you and your husband but your girls also.

  • Felicita Moncada

    Definitely agree! I think sometimes kids need to explore the world. Let them be free to take in all the sights. We decided to take our kids on as many roadtrip, cruises, airplane rides as possible. All kids need to travel and see the world.

  • roch

    When we were younger, our parents also did not expose us to traveling mostly because we don’t have budget. To expose us to learning different things apart from those in the classroom, we used to watch documentaries and travel shows instead. It’s a blessing for kids to have the opportunity to travel and explore.

  • Kristy @ Mommy Hates Cooking

    I fully agree with you! I think that special needs families could benefit greatly from the experiences of travel. I can only imagine how tough it may be, facing unknown situations at times, but the experience alone would be worth it in the end. We love traveling together as a family, so many memories are created!

  • Jaclyn Anne

    This was a beautiful post, and a pleasure to read! I loved reading about how your family benefits from travel and I couldn’t agree more that traveling together a as family – with or without special needs – is a great way to learn, grow, and create memories as a family!

  • Inspiring Kitchen

    It’s good to know there are many resorts now that are accommodating families with special needs. I’m sure this news will make a lot of people happy. Special Needs Families also need to travel and relax.

  • Bailey Dexter

    Everybody’s needs are changing now a days and it’s so nice to see that special needs are being accommodated more and more these days! Makes for great family vacations, ones that years ago were just impossible to take!

  • Suzanne G

    This was a great post and I seriously had not gave much thought to how it would be to travel with special needs children. It is great that more people and places are becoming aware how everyone should be included in being able to travel.

  • Diana Corlett

    Wonderful that the world is becoming more family and special needs friendly! This sounds like an amazing trip!

  • Catherine R.

    That’s so amazing that you have found a way to travel with your family. I think travel is a great way to introduce our children to the way others live and expand their world.

  • Judy Cowan

    Fully agree and I am glad to see that more resorts/holiday destinations are getting on board with making sure that all needs are met.

  • kristen visser

    wow I totally feel you!!! My oldest is 3.5. she was diagnosed with autism in September. Because of it I have held back on doing certain things as a family, taking her to certain places…in my heart I want to I just don’t know how she will react or if it’s worth the money to do certain things because what if she doesn’t like it. One day I would love to travel with both my girls. my family didn’t do it much when I was a kid. I don’t want to do that to them. It’s nice to know there a certain resorts out there that understand

  • Lynda Cook

    This was such a great read, so happy you have decided to take them and travel, sounds like they are loving it!!

  • Brandy

    My eldest son is on the spectrum and we are always struggling to find trips that will accomodate our entire family. It’s great to know that there are places that I can take my entire family and not have to worry about my eldest.

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen

    A great post and I’m happy to learn that resorts/hotels are now doing a lot more for special needs children. Certainly we didn’t travel as a family abroad when we were kids, there wasn’t the money to do that in those days. My children have travelled all over the world with us and loved it. I’m sure that it’s good for all children to see how life is in places and to have some fun. It certainly sounds like yours soak it up. 🙂

  • Heidi C.

    One of my little guys has Asperger’s as well as severe peanut and hazelnut allergies. I can definitely identify with you as I also have to do special needs traveling. It’s not easy.

  • Tasha

    Amazing to see resorts and vacation destinations accommodating families with special needs. What an awesome experience for your children! 🙂

  • Gord

    I believe the world is changing and if you want people to visit you must accommodate differing needs people have.

  • Debbie White Beattie

    It wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t even have wheelchair accessible hotels and rooms . Now it’s mandatory around the world that any new resorts or hotels being built must have wheelchair accessibility throughout. Changes are always happening !

  • Melanie borhi

    great blog i agree travel destinations/ resorts should pay attention more to accomodating those who require more assistance .

  • Victoria Ess

    Wow that’s amazing that travel businesses are starting to make it more possible and easier to think about travel for those who need additional assistance.

  • heather w

    I have 4 children and one of them also has a special set of challenges.. Traveling with him is difficult as well, thank you for this article

  • SarahJ

    As a teacher working towards my Special Education certification I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Places are becoming more and more accommodating to Special Needs. Every child has strengths and abilities and it is wonderful to see you go on a family vacation.

    • Paula

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Wayne! Everyone has abilities. Everyone deserves to be supported and feel that they are worthwhile and useful as well. Places like Smugglers’ Notch left me feeling supposed as a family.

  • MaryAnne LaRocque-Ouamar

    One man in Saskatchewan owns an outfitting company. He got hurt and is now crowdfunding to make his resort accessible.

  • Rebby

    I love the fact that hotels and resorts are catering to special needs of all kinds these days! Times are changing! It’s fantastic!

  • Sandy Couzens

    It’s Wonderful to see companies adjusting to accommodate families with their special needs. Everyone should feel they can go on a vacation and have fun and relax without enduring extra costs or challenges.

  • AD

    I can appreciate how different travel destinations, resorts and companies are adjusting and accommodating travel for all types of family; it’s wonderful. I have a niece with autism and I know just how difficult it is for her parents traveling with her, mostly dealing with the lack of understanding from other families.

  • Victoria Ess

    I had no idea about the extent of potential difficulties people could experience travelling without the appropriate accommodations.

  • AD

    Travel is a great way to expand the mind and especially give special needs kids those extra experiences to stimulate their hearts and souls.

  • Victoria Ess

    It’s great to hear how companies are becoming more willing to accommodate different needs.

  • Judy Thuy Duong

    Agreed, I really love to see how there are more destinations who supports travels for special needs kids. Kids really need to travel to see different parts of the world, they could definitely learn from it.

  • Donnas

    I know that both my daughter and myself need a break (we do the Caribbean each spring along with my sister and her daughter) and none of the children are special needs. I can understand how a parent of a child with special needs would definitely need that getaway. And kudos to the vacation spots for accommodating you and your children.

  • Cheryl

    So great that more and more we are seeing places making it easier for those with special needs!!

  • Sandy Couzens

    I agree also. It is wonderful that families are able to enjoy “complete” holidays together without limitations. It’s important for children and people to feel included and able to participate. Thank you for this great article 🙂

  • Alea Eliott

    Reading this made my heart so happy. I wholeheartedly agree family vacation hot spots need special needs friendly accessibility and fun.

  • AD

    It’s about time that resorts and vacation destinations started to accommodate all kinds of families; appreciate the inclusiveness because everyone deserves to enjoy themselves and have a vacation in a safe, healthy and happy space.

  • Laura B.

    I think that this is a great post. Companies should reflect what their clients actually need.

  • Victoria Ess

    It’s nice to see that times are changing and many companies are making efforts to accommodate different needs.

  • Sandy Couzens

    Everyone should be able to participate in a family holiday 🙂 I am so happy that more companies are seeing this need and doing what it takes to make their facilities more accessible.

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen

    It’s so good that now more and more places are making themselves more available to special needs families. 🙂 That’s progress for sure. 🙂

  • krista m

    I have a special needs child as well & haven’t done much travelling with him. But I love seeing how the world is changing & becoming more understanding to make trips more possible & positive for families! Even a lot of airlines are making autism-friendly zones in their airports etc!

  • Laura B.

    I think that being inclusive is the most important thing a company can do. Everyone should be able to travel!

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen

    I well remember the days when we travelled with our 7 children, not many hotels were pleased to see us. I am so glad that the world is evolving to include various things for people with special needs, whether it’s a wheelchair ramp, special diets or something else it opens up the world for those in need of respite.

  • Laura B.

    This is such an important post for anyone who has or knows a special needs child. Thank you for sharing

  • Victoria Ess

    I am so glad that resorts are making changes to their policies on accommodating people with different needs!

  • Sandy Couzens

    It’s Wonderful to see companies adjusting to accommodate families and their different needs. All children should be able to explore equally 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen

    I’m not at all sure whether we have to comment on this every day or whether we can choose a new post to comment on. It does seem pretty pointless to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

  • Victoria Ess

    You’re definitely right that everyone deserves to be able to travel and see the world.

  • AD

    I love that the travel industry is finally catching up and being inclusive and accommodating for families of all kinds and needs!

  • Sandy Couzens

    I have a lot of respect for companies that take into consideration people with special needs. All children should have the right to participate in all the activities they can. Thank you for this Beautiful Post 🙂