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Special needs parenting: Oh the places you can go!

Francie Khalaf by Francie Khalaf Additional Needs

Francie Khalaf

Francie Khalaf

I am a wife and mother of two children with cerebral palsy. I believe in making lemonade out of lemons

Special needs parenting: Oh the places you can go!

Any parent that decides to take on the task of traveling knows how tough it is.

Kids have so much stuff!

Combine that with all the things they need for entertainment during the road trip or flight, throw in headache meds for you and headphones for all to help curb the “Are we there yet?” question every 5 minutes.


Now, imagine traveling halfway across the country with a special needs child and all their “things” for 3 full weeks.

It’s a monumental task in and of itself.

The planning ahead isn't for the faint of heart.

Many special needs parents just don’t do it.

It’s a huge undertaking and takes weeks of planning, not to mention the risk involved leaving all their regular doctors in case of an emergency.

We have found that we are happier when we get family vacations or we travel.

It’s very stressful leading up to it and we always have a contingency plan for emergencies but we come home feeling refreshed.

We have been to visit family in Oklahoma several times, travelled to Virginia Beach and most recently we travelled to Cleveland, Ohio for intensive therapy.

We knew this therapy could be life changing so we began planning 4 months before.

I am no expert but I do have some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

List, list, list!!!!!

Use lists to keep track of every possible item you may or may not bring.

Narrow things down as you pack but for peace of mind, write it down.

If you are driving:

Rent a roof rack if possible and if not, use vacuum bags to make clothing smaller.

Pretend you are an expert at Tetris and use every available inch.

If there is space, I find something to put in it.

Overpack entertainment for the car

Pack overnight bags if you are staying overnight so you don’t have to take everything in.

Pack extra supplies (diapers, chucks, wipes, clothes) in a small bag or in your overnight bag so it’s accessible.

Order your supplies about a week ahead of time and keep them in the box to load up.

I actually opened the box, took out the filler paper and found more space for other supplies in it.

If you are flying:

Travel on the plane with the least amount of baggage possible.

Trust me, having hands free is worth every penny of checking your bag.

Have a small bag of emergency supplies, all meds and entertainment.

Ship supplies to your destination if possible.

We have done both, we shipped supplies ahead of time and we had a suitcase dedicated to supplies.

It’s much easier going to and from the airport with less in your hands.

Lastly, don’t be afraid.

It may be daunting at first and there will be hiccups but just because your child has special needs, doesn’t mean you should skip those important family vacations.


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