Spring Break Vacation Planning Tips for Families with a Blind or Visually Impaired Child

If I could write a letter to the 2017-2018 school year, I’d probably begin with the profound words of Full House’s Uncle Jesse—HAVE MERCY! School assignments are intensifying, classroom germs are relentless, and we’re all dog-tired. Yet, erupting from this dry ground is the most splendid and beautiful sight—spring break! My hope is you are able to take the fast-approaching week off of work and enjoy every last second of respite with your child(ren). If you’re feeling up for an adventure, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation!

Here you’ll find heaps of vacation planning tips for families who have a child with a visual impairment.

As suggested in "Free Time Activities for Children Who Are Blind and Have Additional Disabilities:"

  • Create a choice board and allow your child to choose a few preferred activities on the trip.
  • Be prepared with a selection of activities your child can participate in by himself—think about a digital reader, stickers, play-doh, braille cards, puzzle toys, a slate and stylus, etc. Transition time will go more smoothly.
  • Consider enjoying new experiences on your trip—think about roller skating, horseback riding, bowling, fishing, rock climbing, hiking, or attending a concert or musical.

As suggested in "Tips for Travel with a Visually Impaired Child:"

  • Include your child in the planning.
  • Make a tactile map of the destination.
  • Explore replicas of any historic destinations (Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, statue, etc.) usually found in a nearby gift shop.

As suggested in "Traveling with a Child Who Is Visually Impaired:"

  • You can obtain a "National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Pass" for free. Ask when you go through the gate of any federal recreation entrance.
  • Don’t forget medications.
  • Know your entire family’s needs, wants, and limits.
  • If you have a handicap parking placard, by all means, bring it.
  • Consider a road trip—read the aforementioned blog post to learn tips specific to road tripping with a child who is blind or visually impaired.
  • Plan, plan, plan!

As suggested in "How to Manage the Airport More Effectively:"

  • Help your teen become acquainted with the airport layout in advance.
  • Consider an audible luggage locator to help your child easily retrieve his/her baggage from the carousel.
  • Teach your older child/teen to handle flight delays (see article for details).

As suggested in "Holiday Travel Ideas and Tips:"

  • Ask for specific accessibility accommodations, such as verbal descriptions of sights on tours or the opportunity to touch landmarks or artifacts usually off limits. Consider asking for the accommodations in advance, such as at the time of booking.
  • Your teen can utilize an app with an accessible GPS to familiarize himself with the new environment and maybe even lead the family to a restaurant within walking distance.
  • If your child or teen doesn’t regularly use a cane for mobility, encourage her to bring it for identification purposes, which can be helpful in unfamiliar, crowded spaces.

Most importantly, enjoy the break from the hustle and bustle of school days. You’ve earned it!