Sometimes the smartest travel plan is to choose NOT to travel. In parenting, and particularly with autism parenting, you have to decide that a trip will be too hard to accomplish at this time. It’s not that you’re giving up on the idea, it’s just that right now, not everyone in your family can travel a great distance.
I know my son has the ability to manage a 5 hour flight, but at this time, a 10 hour flight, no. As you may recall, we’ve traveled to one of our favorite therapist’s weddings in Canada two summer ago, and just that distance within North America was a very big challenge for us. When a close friend decided to get married in Cornwall, England, I had mixed emotions about how to accomplish this outing with children in tow.
Originally, I had planned to take my entire family and then discovered that expense prohibited that choice. Then, I thought I would just take my son who loves British history and then the length of the trip to London and then to Cornwall just seemed a flight too far. And then I thought I would just take my daughter, who I can more easily travel with, and then I thought…I’m in a wedding…I need to focus on the wedding.
So, you can see a great deal of thought goes into the decision of “who can come on a big trip?” It’s not a clear decision when a family member has autism. There are many additional thoughts that have to be accounted for–can I get the food we need for the special diet? How much of the setting can I control? How exhausting will the actual travel be? As I had not taken this trip before, I didn’t feel that I could anticipate enough in advance to make this a smooth experience for my son or even my younger daughter. In the end, I went alone to my friend’s wedding and our kids went with my husband to visit his family.
And let me tell you, it is a strange experience to travel alone for the first time in 18 years. And yet, by taking this time to decompress in nature, at a friend’s joyful event, I have more internal space to approach a new school year, an important milestone birthday for my son and the recent passing of my mom with greater clarity and calm.
So while I am determined to get my son with autism to Cornwall (and the rest of my family!), I felt the first trip was a good scouting opportunity for me. I was able to see what parts are going to annoy him (the overnight flight may need to be broken up into two legs), the long train ride (again, may need side trips along the way) and the lack of gluten-free options in Cornwall, England. I’m sure the dining options are there amidst all the fish and chips and pub food, it’s just that I’ll need to do a better job finding them before my next trip across the pond.
If you have visited Cornwall and have suggestions for me and my son, feel free to leave us a comment. Brilliant!