There is something about traveling that takes it all out of you. The destination is the prize, but the journey there can be anything but relaxing. My first vacation this year was a lovely solo trip to the Caribbean this Spring. This time, I decided to treat my kids to the same vacation. When I decided to not visit the UK this Spring and switched my trip to closer to home, the airfare credit was so generous that I was able to create two vacations out of it.
Traveling with two children on the autism spectrum can be challenging, even if they are older. A lot of people associate difficulty while traveling with children only to small babes in arms and cranky toddlers who aren’t used to it all. While you may not notice it, there is a bit of stress going on with some of the families around you (Autism or not!) and that’s exactly what happened to me.
This picture is what one thinks it’s like traveling with children (and where are these people that they walk up the stairs outside the plane?) I don’t know about you, but a hat that big is going to poke someone’s eye out walking down the aisle to be honest.
This photo is a much better representation of what my two children were like a good bit of the time. A parent only has so many things up their sleeve to use during travel. You can’t say, “If you two don’t knock it off, I’m going to tell the pilot to turn this plane around right now!” (not to mention that if you tried to tell him that, you would wind up duct-taped to a seat with an air marshal giving you the evil eye and you would get dragged off, United style upon landing). So, you have to do things like trying to separate them, threatening them with the usual lines, “we’re just going to stay at the hotel and not get on that ship!” and other lies and falsehoods lol.
After getting over the realization that there was NO wine package waiting for me on board, we finally arrived at our destination after driving, staying at a hotel, flying to Florida from Maryland, staying overnight there and getting a shuttle to the ship. By the time you get to your room, you are ready for a four hour nap. I tried to calculate the cost of the nap based on the price of the cruise, but my phone battery was almost dead, plus I knew there was ice cream close by, so I just forgot about it.
The next morning, we woke up in Nassau, in the Bahamas. Wow, so pretty. The kids were pretty good once they realized that they were in such a beautiful place and we spent two days on two different islands enjoying the amazingly clear water and free beaches that stretched for miles. They still acted like siblings from time to time, but I figured out that threatening them with singing or dancing of any kind was the key to getting my teenage daughter to stop and that in turn allowed my son to quiet down. Embarrassment for the win!
After another two days stopping at beautiful and amazing ports all over the Caribbean, it was time to head home. My son is not the most social of young adults, so he decided to sleep in the cabin rather than head to the pool. I think part of the time he contemplated if he acquired Zika while in the Caribbean as well. My daughter and I had a grand old time that afternoon, sliding down a huge water slide and engaging in a long game of volleyball with random people in the main pool. Impromptu fun is the best! Lots of laughs and a lot of salt water in the nose was had that day.
My kids aren’t night owls and I knew the next morning we would be back in Florida and facing a LONG day of travel. We had to get off the ship, take a taxi to the airport, take flight number one to Atlanta, layover for two hours, we wound up facing a delay due to bad storms, then flying to Dulles, taking countless trains to get back to our baggage, get a shuttle back to the first hotel and driving an hour and a half to get home. Whew! Thankfully, one of them fell asleep, which helped a lot.
Vacations are wonderful. I feel very grateful for the opportunity to go on two cruises this year. The next day I think I slept until almost 10:30 AM! (more gratitude right there!)
I am also eternally grateful for the fact that I work from home and that, as a writer, I can turn my job on and off for a week while I travel or take care of family obligations. I know that not everyone can do this and I’m appreciative of that. In the end, it was quite an adventure and a lot of connections, but we had a great time. Despite a bit of bickering and sibling rivalry, we had a lot of laughs and made a lot of memories.
To be honest, I’d do it all again this week if I could.