Active and Inclusive Family Vacations
|Associate Director, Amy Rauworth|
Choosing your destination and itinerary.
When choosing the location of your vacation, it is important to consider the interests of all family members. If possible, allow each family member a day to decide what activity the family will participate in, while keeping in mind the abilities of all individuals. Prior to this discussion, parents or lead family members should consider budget restraints and a timeline for the vacation. Many times, if a little research is done prior to the vacation and members are encouraged to be creative, the activities the family can consider are low-cost .
When developing the itinerary, ask general accessibility questions regarding accessible parking, access routes, and what amenities are inclusive for individuals with mobility, sensory, or visual impairments. Ask to speak with an inclusion specialist regarding all accessible features. Request that all discussed accessible features be sent to you in writing and take this document with you on your travels. Also, discuss any specific concerns or areas of interest that you or the person with the disability may have, as each visit should be individualized to meet the needs of all family members. For more information on specific questions that should be asked, view the NCHPAD factsheet on 'What to Know Before You Go: The Big Questions to Ask Before Arriving at Your Accessible Recreation Destination' at: http://www.ncpad.org/277/1750/What~to~Know~Before~You~Go~~The~Big~Questions~to~Ask
~Before~Arriving~at~Your~~Accessible~~Recreation~Destination. If your itinerary includes a visit to the zoo, view our facthseet on 'Zoo Trips' (http://www.ncpad.org/44/329/Zoo~Trips), and for families who wish to go on a camping vacation, see NCPAD’s resource on accessible parks at http://www.ncpad.org/directories/18/Parks.
Travel to your destination.
Depending on the mode of transportation that you will use, there are ways to incorporate activity into travel time.
If you will be traveling by car, make a few stops that allow for movement. If you must stop for gas or a restroom break, allow for 10 to 15 minutes of activity. This could include a family walk/roll around the rest stop, or a team scavenger hunt for local leaves and plants. For safety reasons, it is always important to include an adult member on each team and to leave no child unsupervised. Another option if you are traveling long distances by car is to map out points of interest on your travel route. This will allow the family to take well-deserved breaks - and you might even discover something really great along the way!
If you are traveling by airplane, consider the down time that the family may encounter while waiting to board the airplane, or in the event that your plane should be delayed. One option is to have the entire family wear pedometers. Have each family member set a goal of number of steps to reach while at the airport and determine who is the closest to the number of steps chosen when you are boarding the plane. To view a factsheet on how to use a pedometer, go to: http://www.ncpad.org/368/2062/What~is~a~Pedometer~and~How~Can~I~Benefit~from~Using
~One~. During your flight, try to incorporate deep breathing exercises that can relax tense muscles and make your flight much more enjoyable. To perform a deep breathing exercise, begin by making sure you are seated with the best possible posture. Then begin diaphragmatic breathing, which simply means to breathe through your belly and not your chest. Your umbilicus (belly button) should begin to expand as air enters, which then expands your chest and thoracic area. Breathe in as deeply as you can through your nose and exhale through your mouth longer than you inhale, expelling every last bit of air out of your lungs. If you have a laptop, you may want to bring along your favorite exercise video and perform the stretching exercises as space allows. For those of you who enjoy yoga, for a $5 fee, you can download in-flight yoga classes at www.yogi2go.com that can be performed during flight.
Arriving at your destination.
Upon arrival at your destination, be sure to take some time to rest. Consider any time changes that may have occurred and allow for an adjustment period. Check the local weather and plan your activities accordingly. Remember to eat a healthy diet. Unhealthy fast-food choices will not be the best fuel for your body and will make your active adventures more difficult. Hydration is another key component to achieving active goals: drink purified water rather than caffeinated beverages and juices whenever possible. If you should experience any difficulties with the accessibility features, speak to management and, if possible, the inclusion specialist on site. Refer to previous written agreements that you had obtained regarding accessibility. If you report the issues that you experience, this will allow the facility to improve its services. Future guests who require similar accommodations will be grateful that you did!
Please send your comments and feedback to Amy Rauworth at email@example.com.