School-break vacations often challenge families that have different aged kids with different interests. It can be even trickier when you have a child on the autism spectrum, particularly when you’re dealing with varying travel restrictions related to COVID-19. However, a bit of pre-planning and creativity can help you design a family vacation that meets everyone’s needs while making treasured memories. PGK Clubhouse can provide resources, tips, and practical advice to help.
What To Do
Ideally, it’s best to make family vacation plans that include outings and activities that everyone enjoys. For example, if everyone has fun in the great outdoors, a camping, hiking, or RV trip might be a good bet; if you all have fun seeing new sites, a tour of museums or state parks could fit the bill. While cost and time availability have to be factored in, even a short trip can be just right for family bonding. If you aren’t sure what to do, pick a destination you’ve always wanted to explore and research local tourist hot spots for ideas. If air travel or hotel accommodations are part of the plan, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for COVID travel guidelines in the area you’re visiting.
Consider A Staycation
Staycations involve planning fun activities you can do at home, or in your own city or state. This reduces the need for travel and overnight accommodations, which can be helpful when dealing with mask mandates and any special needs of your children. Staycations can be especially fun if you create themes, like a backyard scavenger hunt or an outdoor movie night.
If your family regularly enjoys outside activities, consider installing a safety fence around your property. Before you meet with contractors, research Angi fencing, browse the ratings and reviews, and ask for estimates in writing. On average it costs about $4,500 for fence installation, but that can vary with size and materials. Always make sure contractors are licensed, insured, and know-how to check underground utility lines.
Anticipate Special Needs Accommodations
When you start thinking about family activities, keep the needs of your autistic child in mind. According to the National Autism Association, this is especially important if they have sensory issues, thrive on a strict schedule, or are prone to wandering. You might want to plan short excursions and scope out times and places for a quiet respite in case activities become overwhelming. Make sure your child has comfort items with them, and steer away from busy times when you’ll be fighting crowds and traffic. Many places now have special rooms in places like aquariums, zoos, and arts centers designated as calm and quiet spaces. Inquire about different autism-friendly amenities in advance of travel so you can plan appropriately. Also, consider bringing along sound-canceling headphones if your child is particularly sensitive to noise.
Make It About Family Bonding
As most families know, sometimes even the best plans can go awry. Changes in the weather, a sick or tired child, a temper tantrum, or a traffic jam can all shut down plans during a vacation. Go into your trip with reasonable expectations and keep the focus on spending time together as a family. Put contingency plans in place if possible, always have extra snacks, games or videos, and changes of clothes on hand, and be committed to go with the flow regardless of how each day unfolds. Consider assigning each family member a vacation job, whether that’s being the family photographer, passing out snacks, picking a new restaurant each day, or even leading car sing-alongs. This will create buy-in from everyone and create memories that are sure to last.
Whether you stay at home, close to home, or travel across the state or country, make the focus of your school breaks relaxing and sharing time with your kids. Tell stories about your own childhood trips, ask open-ended questions that will get your kids talking, and try to step back and truly cherish your time. Kids grow quickly, and being fully present in the moment is the best gift you can give one another.