Welcome to IEP live with Courtney and Markeisha. Today's topic we're going to be talking travel, when you have kids, multiple kids, and especially if your child has a disability. Hey, Courtney, Hey, how are you? I'm on location. Actually, I'm actually traveling.
I know it fits so perfect. You're traveling, we're talking about traveling, it will be fresh in your mind all the tips very
fresh in my mind. We are here in in generation's Riviera Maya. So yes, the tips are, are fresh in my mind. So we wanted to first acknowledge that travel is not it's not what I want to say, there's lots of misconceptions out there. When you have a child that has a disability. It might have been everyone's norm, or or followers norms out there families, excuse me, guys, I'm so sorry, not followers, families norms out there. And then maybe when they got the diagnosis, they're like, there's no way that we are going to be able to travel like we used to.
Right? There's an overwhelming, yeah, sounds overwhelming. And a lot of times, quite honestly, this is what it was like for me and a lot of other families that I help is it's very overwhelming that diagnosis and trying to I call it finding your your feeding and not feeding, but finding being grounded and feeling like you're in a new normal, because what life was like and what you were doing, it might be so different that it takes you a little bit to find your your footing, that was what I was going for earlier. And so that's normal, that's really normal. And what I want, what I want to encourage our families to do is to is that something that's part of your family culture, and that's like something that you really enjoy, and it brings you happiness, then we want to find a way we want to encourage you to find a way back to experiencing some of those things that you experienced before that brought you and your partner so much joy. And so we want to acknowledge that it's hard sometimes, and we're going to give you some tips that really helped us as moms going from being a married couple and then having a child with a disability, and how did we get back to traveling. And so that's what we're going to talk about today.
Right? And it was, for us, for me for our family, there was we were a family of five for those. And then we became a family of six. And we did have to jump right into it because we adopted Josiah. And when we did not know that he was autistic. And so we went on our family break, or normal family vacation. He was only in our home maybe three months. And we went, we went on vacation. And we found out real fast. And he eloped, and he had meltdowns, and we didn't have anything in place. So I understand a lot of parents that could be out there like what if he? What if all the what if he's happened on that vacation, and I can tell you that my kids were younger at that time, we call them od three. And they were like, This is the worst vacation. Ever. Because you know, there was a lot we didn't know. And so we didn't prepare the way that we do now. And then of course, just sighs a little bit older now. And we know we know how to prepare. But that does happen. And like you said, I like the word that you use. It's our family culture. And it's something that we decided that we're going to continue to do. And so we've made different types of accommodations. Now raise,
right to make it I had a plan. So sometimes you get thrown into it or sometimes like you've been going along and this has been working and your child loves being in the car and then one day you're there, your child does not love being in car. Sometimes we get surprised with our our children's changes in needs or what they liked, and now they don't like so that's normal too. And so that's just parenthood and so jumping into it and for our family. Our daughter has a physical disability medical situations. And so thinking about traveling with her the type of accommodations and we were worried a lot about her medical stuff for a long time too. And so we were gonna go over the tips we do and how we do it. Now my family we do road trips, we do epic road trips, we do some flying and for our daughter that looks different because of her physical needs and being needs to be PAMP changed and having still wearing a diaper. And so there's different struggles that we have because of that and so we're going to kind of share both sides of that you know air travel and you know road trips and high net Do it. Right. So our first tip was to start local and start small, something that you can leave if you need to leave, you know, with a sample, if you will, of what you're going to go. And if it's not working out, you can, you can leave. And so that's important too, you don't want to take your first road trip or your thing and invest a lot of money, and then you have to leave. So it's really important,
you don't have a way out. And you know, it doesn't even have to be I was just, I was just thinking about this, it could be to a friend's house, and you can set up there could be to the backyard and a tent. Well, I'm in California. So we have nice weather. So maybe I'm just speaking to the California knee, but I'm thinking of tents, or maybe a living room or someone else's home or something like that. And just try it overnight, somewhere else local hotel can write out too,
just because all of that process the kids love and when you're doing, you know, sleeping out on the trampoline, the kids love that, you know, depending on and so any of those are creating that experience. And so what a lot of our kids struggle with is unfamiliar, you know, environments, noises, sounds, and not knowing what to expect. And so that kind of can throw them throw them off. And so recreating that is really important. And you can do that. And your kids will remember it. That's the cool part is sometimes we we still take the epic trips, because we want them and they're fun. But don't underestimate just making a backyard camping experience. And test driving it and putting up the tent all that your kids will remember that one time we live in Arizona, so it's super hot here, we've got a portable pool in the back of my husband's truck. And we went to the driving, and the kids got to swim and watch a movie, they still talk about us like five years ago. And so they just love it. So those types of things your kids will remember
right and thinking outside the box. Yep. Just the process of packing something up and doing something different. And working out the kinks locally, can help you see Oh, okay. Well, that could be that could be a little issue there that we can work out before we try something. Make writing bigger.
Yeah. So think about what your child needs? What are some of the things that you know, I come triggers are things that give them a lot of anxiety? Or could cause a meltdown? Or that? And so think about that for your child? And then what would they need? And that's what you're gonna kind of include, in your experience is a little sample of the unfamiliar that might throw them off.
Right? Right. And another thing is, the the beauty of YouTube is that you can find so many places, everything pretty much on YouTube, to give you a sample of what places look like to familiar, Famille your eyes can't talk, familiarize yourself on what different places look like, kind of like, like you're there. To take some of that anxiety away about where we're going, what's it gonna look like, when we get there. And that has helped, that has helped a lot. Being able to visualize what this new place and what this new experience is going to be where we're going. That's, that's been helpful for us and many families that I work with also.
Right, so just taking that, like, if you're going to go to a theme park and looking at some of the rides, talking about the rides, what ride do you think you would like? Do you want to get wet? Do you want to stay dry? Do you want to go upside down. And so YouTube is awesome for that, because you can give them that sneak peek through video where they're actually seeing it and kind of experiencing it. And then another tip that we use for my daughter is creating visuals. And we're actually going to make one for you guys where you can download some visuals. So what I'm going to put on there is some for traveling different types of travel, camping theme parks, a little sample of what I would think most families go on for a trip, they're going to be on there. And even if you don't end up using the visuals that we provided, you can kind of get a sense of you can go to Google and download an image and take that real picture of that and maybe some stops between here and grandma's house and where are you going to stop and kind of create that time because that's one thing kids a lot of kids struggle with is like well, how much time are we going to be in a car how long till we get They're, and so creating those, we're gonna eat here, and then we're gonna stop here. And then we'll be to grandma's house. And so that's really helped my son and daughter is giving some visual supports, and it comes back to creating that plan. So you're going to start local and small, then you're going to come up with your plan. And so that's kind of the supports that worked really well for both of our families is that YouTube or visual support to come up with the plan, and then you're gonna go to execution, and you're gonna give it a try and be okay, if it doesn't go great. There's some times that we think it's going to be great and awesome day. And then, you know, my daughter's name is Hannah, and she doesn't sleep. And she just decided she's not going to sleep, and she's gonna get up at two in the morning. And so kind of that execution, and still the plan is planning for and being okay with it not being perfect. And sometimes we have to split up. So sometimes my husband will take two of the kids, and they'll go do something, and I'll stay back with our daughter, because she just needs a break and to be you know, just that hotel or whatever kind of relaxing, and be that's normal, every family that I know that has a child with a disability, sometimes you have to split up for lots of different reasons. Accessibility, they're tired, you just know, they're already had kind of a morning and you're like, if we push them, we're just gonna ruin the whole day by trying to get them to go to the theme park this morning, you know, or go for the morning hike or whatever. They're not going to do it.
Right. Right. It is okay. And I think just talking about I know, I've talked to a lot of parents, and I'm sure you've seen in a lot of groups, too, that parents feel bad because or guilty because they're splitting up and I don't get to, you know, they're not getting to experience what other kids are getting to experience. But for example, today, I was sharing with Courtney that Josiah stayed inside all day today. He didn't swim. She didn't go to lunch. Don't worry, guys. He didn't eat. He did go to lunch with us. But he didn't swim. He didn't do the cooking activity and play basketball. He did nothing. He said it was the best day ever. He was totally fine. Like sometimes we are like, Oh, no, they're, they're gonna miss out. And they're not getting you to do what their siblings doing. And they're like, Fine,
did I didn't want to do what they were doing.
And I was fine. He was like, I'm good. I'm just here by myself with my dad. And that's what he needed for, you know, for the day. So
yeah, that's good. And for us, it's accessibility a lot of times too. So sometimes our other kids want to do something that's just not wheelchair accessible or friendly. And we try as much as possible. Always, our goal is to do things as a family. But sometimes, like we were in Rocky Point, Mexico, and the kids wanted to go horseback riding. That's just not something our daughter can do. So Craig went and did something Hannah likes eating, they went to a special like, they went to a restaurant and got AIDS, right. And we went and went horseback riding, and we have fun, and she had fun. And the kids got to make memories. And I think so sometimes we have to find that balance between what do some of our other children need? And then what does our child that make me a sensory break deed? And both their needs are important. And like you said, sometimes it's our vision of what we thought the trip would look like when they were perfectly content to just have a down day where he was just hanging out on his iPad and regrouping you know, and just kind of letting his sensory system calm down a little bit and not have that expectation. And so I did want to acknowledge one thing, too, is our daughter has some complex medical needs. And so when we first started out with some road trips, we were really nervous because we're like, we'd never left the state. And what if something happened? So what my husband did was he found a route, and he found a route that had children's hospitals along the way. So he was kind of he was catering to me because I was the most nervous about it. And so he said, You know what, we're going to never be more than x amount of minutes from a hospital. And so we started out with that and that made me realize that you know, she was safe we we got going with it. And I realized the likelihood that it could happen anywhere at home. Any place we go, something could happen and so we got going with that we still look at where facilities are for her so we're aware of it. We have to pack her Be very careful with how much thicken up, we're bringing her special thing we put into her drinks, because that's not sold, like anywhere. And then her size of, of diapers. And that's something that we have to plan for, because you can't just go to the local store and pick up adult size of that. So there's some planning there, but it's do it, you can do it. And a lot of the airports are coming along with doing universal changing tables. So you can look at what airports have those if your child has that need. And then getting creative with where we kind of change her on the road trips can get can get interesting, but it's like, it's interesting when we go to the park, too. Because there's a lot of, you know, bathroom facilities aren't designed for for her yet. We're working on it, but I
will say we're gonna be we're gonna be getting some of you guys in on those universal changing, you're gonna have a cause we're gonna have a, we're gonna have a mission we're gonna have
Yeah, well, we'll do a podcast about that because California and Arizona are two states that have laws in place to be putting in universal changing tables, more accessibly in the community. And so a lot of parents are like speaking out about it now and really saying, Hey, this is needed. And really helping state and federal laws say you need to catch up, this is like there is a need. So you know, we can put that in the show notes, too, we have a website that has a pin on where all the universal tables are that we found. And so we keep track of it. And people can send us an email and say, Hey, I found the universal changing table here. And then we add it to the map, so that families can kind of plan out and know where there's where there's one and Iowa just passed a law to put them in all of the rest areas. So it is common changes are common. And it is possible for that. So that I just wanted to point that out. Because I think a lot of times there are real things, these are real roadblocks that other families don't have to deal with. And, and we do but showing that it's possible and kind of giving a hint of how we do it and how we make it work. And we we bring a little you know, those little tents you set up on the beach for when the kids are little and they need to take like a little nap and you just pop them up like super quick. That's what we bring on our road trips for Hannah. And then we would lay her down in there. So it's clean, and we have like a little yoga mat. And then we zip it so she has privacy. And then we quick ticket down. Tips. Yeah, I love
that tip. Because I've never had to use that tip. But there's a family out there. That's like, Haha, yeah.
And so it's doable, and you can get creative and we have a lot of fun. And so we'll have to you have a chance
to write Yeah, yeah, fun therapy travel. But it's those in March. And we both travel, our families those travel, but we travel. We we've had. I can't talk today. That's because I'm on location. That's right, travel differently. So we would have travel tips. Why it's so cool. That we are sharing,
we're doing the all inclusive, right? I am writing it's all inclusive vacation route. And I actually traveled with markeesha last April and I never, I never knew about the all inclusive life. I didn't even know how to handle that. Like what do you mean? I was I was blown away because we do a lot of road trips. And we've done that. People say oh, you love to drive. I'm like, I don't know, if I love to drive I've learned to love to drive because flying in a lot of ways is harder with Hannah's wheelchair and and now that some of the airports are putting in the universal changing tables. That's changing the conversation because now I have a place to change her at the airport. But we started traveling out of the fact that we could control our environment. And so we could control the stops in if she was loud or she was having a bad day. We were only asked in the car not on an airplane. And so we've worked up to the airplane. So now we're back to she can go on the airplane, but we had to kind of take a break from the airplanes because she was not doing well on the airplane. But we're planning to go to Costa Rica. So she's going on a plane and she's gonna she's gonna have fun and so we worked up to that. And so I think that kind of brings us full circle of lightness. You know We started small we then we worked up to these pretty epic road trips. And she's gotten used to sleeping in different environments and dealing with some different things. And she's learned to adapt and enjoy it. So now we're like, Okay, now we can try the plane, because now she can sit up a little bit better, she had a hard time sitting up, there's this accessibility of the changing tables in the airports, which is helping us be able to do that. And so yeah, I just had that thought I was like, why did we start with road trips, and then I remembered, because we had a plane ride where Hannah almost almost brought down that, you know, we just she was just melting down, she was having such a hard time. And luckily, the people around us were really understanding, but she just had a full meltdown on the plane because her ears, it couldn't pop. And she's not speaking. So she couldn't really express that to us. And so that that ended up being a really hard plan, right. And the point is to not give up, if it's something that you want, and you feel like your child would enjoy and like your family wants to do it. The thing is, don't give up. Because just because it didn't work one time doesn't mean it's never going to work on a plane, no. And so working up and helping them have those coping skills and the knowing what to expect and knowing what a plane feels like then the next time that plane ride is going to be better and trip will be even.
Even if it is a plane, then even a smaller trip on the plane. So maybe to Cancun, right? Something that's a smaller, a smaller area to get a smaller flight, come right to Arizona, right?
That's like, like 20 minutes. You spend more time getting through security, right? That's a really good point. Start with that short plane ride so they can get the takeoff, the landing, the IRS talk about it. And then if you did a longer flight, then you would know what things they liked on the flight when things didn't work for them in their little to go bag. So yeah, well, thanks for joining on on your vacation and giving us some valuable tips for families on travel and how you make it work.
Yes, we want you guys to know that we are in this with you. We are Mama's in this with you too. And we're not saying to, you know, go out there, we've experienced all the things between the both of us, I'm 99%, that we've experienced a lot of things between the both of us, we just want you to be in partnership with the guys too. And yeah, help you along the way.
And we're both active on Instagram, and they can leave us a DM about a question or topic because we really want to make this podcast informative, helpful, and relatable have, we are really in the trenches doing it. And we've had those hard times where people are staring at us, they're not understanding what's happening, and you feel alone. And what we wanted in this is to include every parent and to have every parent know that there's hope that things are possible and have tips and strategies to make it easier because it can be very lonely. And there's a there's a lot of years where it was very lonely for me and my family because we just didn't reach out or the social media wasn't like it is and podcasts and things like that weren't quite what they are now, and Hannah was little. And so knowing how it can be I really want to help families know that they can get back to some of the things they enjoyed. They might look a little different, but they can still be fun, and how to make it happen. So we're this will be not the last podcast about traveling. Just the first one and so you can download those visuals, send us your questions, and we can pop back on and give you even more details. Like if you want to me like I want all the details on this then let us know and we'll do a
road trip or or we're very good. We're getting back to you. And we want it we want this to podcast to be about you. So let us know what you are looking for. And we were not too proud to say we don't know everything. We know a lot of things but not everything. But we are good about finding out the info. Right. Very good. We were very good at researching. So yeah, we're researchers for sure. All right, well see you. Later. I'm back. On the beach, right? Find the kids. Okay, Talk to you later bye bye