Do you know what January 3oth is? It is probably the best holiday of the year quite truly, and for the most important reason! It is National Plan For Vacation Day! Did you know that vacationing is just as important as working? And that studies have proven that? According to the organization Project: Time Off, workers who use most or all of their vacation time are more focused and productive then workers who don’t.
Parents magazine says, “parents are better off spending their money on vacations than they are spending it on toys, which kids are often bored with a week or two later.” I completely agree with this being just a month past Christmas. My kids already can’t find anything to do. Yet they still love looking at the scrapbook photos of our Disney vacation from last September. It seems that they remember what most of us adults have forgotten. There is more to life than work!
So this year, use National Plan For Vacation day as a good excuse to plan some time off with your family!
Why does it matter?
Families that vacation together, stay together. But don’t take my word for it. Fox News Family reports that “the whole family tends to be more excited, silly and affectionate while on vacation.” These are things that a lot of special needs kids miss out on because of trying behaviors and truly exhausted parents. Many times special needs kids are left out of the necessary respite time that other family members routinely get. As a special needs mom myself, I completely understand a family’s need for a break from the daily frustrations that special needs can bring. But, we need to remember the child with special needs too! They need that respite from the everyday just as much as the rest of us.
This is where the family respite vacation comes in to play. Yes, they do exist. I know, because I take them with my family on a very routine basis. Wheelchairs, special diets, sensory needs, and behavioral issues do not stop us from keeping our family connected through vacations. In fact our family has two modes, planning for vacation mode and vacation mode. The planning part is just as important as the vacation itself. It teaches dreaming and goal setting, and it shows kids that we find spending time with them important. Important enough to put that time on our calendars.
Where would we go?
There are so many vacation companies that understand special needs. In fact, there are a handful that have actually completed coursework in providing travel experiences for those with special needs. I don’t know about you, but that is music to my ears. Royal Caribbean has created Autism on the Seas cruises, Beaches has created Autism friendly Kids Camps at some of their resorts, and of course Mickey is the master of bringing magic to everyone.
These destinations truly understand how important vacations that include everyone are to the well-being of families. Most of these vacation options include times of respite for mom and dad too. Through kid centered activities or in room nanny service, parents can relax knowing their children are well taken care of and having fun. Then the whole family can come back together for some adventure or relaxation time.
How would we get started?
It can be a daunting task looking at all the options and all the websites and all the reviews that seem to clutter the internet these days. So where does a person begin, and where do you go for the answers? The best answer is to start small. If your family hasn’t been on a vacation for as long as you can remember, then maybe try an extended weekend and work from there.
If you truly want to take your family on that dream vacation, there is another option that has escaped this modern app loving world – travel planners. I can remember when my grandparents were jetting off to Europe or Hawaii. They would never have thought to plan those trips on their own. But along came the internet, and people began planning their own vacations with the click of a button.
Fast forward to 2018, and now there is so many options and too much information. Trip planning has become vastly overwhelming, especially for families with special needs. One website says this destination is awesome, and then two others claim that destination to be a huge disaster. So which one is right?
Since many of us have long forgotten about the days of travel planners, this isn’t an option that readily comes to mind. But it should, because most travel planners work for free. Well free to you anyways. They are paid by the travel companies themselves. I will let you in on a little secret that the travel industry doesn’t want you to know. The travel agent fees are already included in the cost of your vacation even if you choose to plan the trip on your own. That’s right! If you don’t use a travel planner, they pocket the extra money and you miss out on valuable time and knowledge. So if planning a vacation for your family seems like an insurmountable task, try a travel planner.
What if I can’t afford it?
This is where the planning part comes in. There are many creative ways to save money. Fox News Family already came up with one. Give the gift of vacation. My guess is your child cannot remember what they got for Christmas two years ago. I know mine had a pretty difficult time remembering anything they received two years ago. On the contrary, they remembered almost everything about the Universal Orlando Resort vacation we took that same year. I find that to be incredibly interesting. The family experiences we have seem to last much longer than the objects we think are important in the moment.
What if I can’t get the time off?
Again, this is where the planning comes in. It’s not by accident that Plan For Vacation Day arrives in January each year. This is the month we tend to look ahead at the year and make plans for the future. This also happens to be tax time, which helps with the “what if I can’t afford it” question. While it does not have to happen on January 30th, it really should happen. Take some time to sit down with your family and brainstorm some ideas on how and when your family can build some lasting memories. Maybe even rent Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s “The Long Haul” movie to get into the spirit of family vacationing. Remember, it doesn’t have to be difficult or break the bank to have fun time off with your family.
So how will you spend National Plan For Vacation Day this year? Hopefully you will spend it planning some fun time off with your family! Remember, families that vacation together, stay together.