Traveling the world is the very definition of leaving your comfort zone. For families with special needs, it is imperative to structure a trip in a safe and secure way, taking measures to address the demands of autism, severe food allergies, cognitive impairments, limited mobility or any other circumstance. Ciao Bambino is founded on the belief that the benefits of family travel are worth the extra effort that many of our clients require when crafting their perfect trip. We want all families to be thrilled by experiencing something new and unfamiliar, which expands imaginations and opens minds, even in the youngest children. For those families who need to consider special needs, we are here to help make travel less intimidating and far more manageable.
Our planning process is designed to put parents at ease, including and perhaps especially families with special needs. Upfront communication is key; we speak with tour guides and activity providers in advance to discuss preferences, concerns and triggers so adjustments can be made accordingly. We use our personal contacts and strong relationships with onsite suppliers to arrange services like an orientation tour at the hotel, resort or cruise ship to make family members feel more comfortable with their new surroundings. Safety is always our top priority. Our local partners can arrange emergency medical care anywhere in the world for our clients should it be necessary.
Choosing a destination that works well for each individual family’s needs is our specialty. A few of our favorite locations for a kid-friendly vacation that accommodates those with special needs include:
Longtime favorite destination with kids, Florida works exceptionally well for families with special needs. Disney has a well-earned reputation for handling unique needs exceptionally well, so a day or two at one of their amusement parks can be fun for all. We can also suggest resorts that offer everything from dedicated staff for children with special needs at the kids’ clubs to wheelchair accessibility onto the beach. The short, direct flights to Florida are also a plus.
Hitting the slopes while also accounting for special needs, physical challenges in particular, might sound daunting. But many of our favorite ski resorts around North America are catering to special needs families in really important ways. Resorts like Vail, Colorado, offer adaptive ski lessons at a reduced rate, while Park City, Utah, is home to the National Ability Center and has dedicated staff training programs. Further east, Mont Tremblant, Quebec, and Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont, also offer adaptive skiing and winter sports activities for families. Best of all, these resorts work across seasons, as their summer programming is equally fun and flexible.
Families love the variety of experiences found in Southern California, like amusement parks, beaches and playgrounds. It just feels easy and relaxing here. San Diego works well as a home base for a family vacation, as the city offers beach-capable wheelchairs and free entry to its iconic zoo for those with special needs.
Not only are the logistics essentially hassle-free when cruising, but some lines have implemented high-quality programming and staff training for guests with special needs. This includes sensory-friendly playrooms, modified activities for children with autism and dedicated staff to assist those with hearing and visual impairments. Let us help arrange shore excursions that are manageable for your family. Our favorite pro tip is to book private tours with vetted guides who whisk families away from the crowds while in port.
When in doubt, a vacation to a tropical paradise is never a bad idea. Fortunately for families with special needs, many of the major resorts throughout the Caribbean offer staff trained to assist with a variety of requirements, adaptive camps and robust dining options that can accommodate specific dietary needs. Some properties even offer one-on-one nanny service as part of their package for families.
Because of the intimate nature of most dude ranches, it’s quite easy for these properties to make any adjustments needed for families. The highly trained staff pride themselves on the personal attention they give to their guests, both in advance of the stay and while on the ranch. Several of our favorite ranches offer wheelchair access in their accommodations; most can also assist with dietary requirements.
Feeling ready to hop the pond? We love Ireland for families with special needs. The wide-open spaces and fresh country air put even the most nervous travelers at ease, and cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway are far less crowded than many European capitals, yet still offer plenty of fun for families. Irish hospitality is legendary for a reason, and most needs can be met, especially at the larger hotels and resorts with a full range of services. Plus, there’s no language barrier, which means asking for assistance is less intimidating.
We stand ready to support our clients by addressing their special needs and greatest concerns when it comes to traveling with their children. Do you have a family member with noise sensitivities? We’ll book you in the quietest rooms at the hotels we suggest, and we know which properties are far from noisy streets, even in the liveliest cities. Need lodging with a kitchen to prepare special foods for your family? We can book vacation home rentals that offer local staff onsite to assist, much like a concierge would. Plus, they’re all vetted for quality and cleanliness, unlike many standalone home rental booking sites. Unsure what to pack? We’re well versed on which supplies you’re likely to find in your destination and what you’ll need to bring from home.
We always encourage our traveling families to discuss concerns with their medical provider before a trip. As an added layer of protection, we also encourage our clients to invest in travel insurance, and we can help you choose the policy that best meets your needs. Travel insurance protects you should you need to cancel for medical reasons, but it also covers any medical costs families may incur while traveling, as well as evacuation expenses.
Talk to us about your family’s special needs, and then let us get to work designing a trip that will allow everyone to enjoy new experiences and relaxing destinations to the fullest.
Our expert Family Travel Advisors are passionate about exploring the world with children — and empowering you to do the same. From handpicked accommodations to insider experiences, we can craft a custom vacation that’s uniquely suited to your family’s needs. Click to get started!Get Started
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.