The Great Sensory Escape | A Dream Sensory Friendly Vacation

We don’t take vacations. No, scratch that… we avoid vacations. The term “vacation” should instill release, comfort, hope and so many other feelings, however in our home it is quite the opposite which is probably why we haven’t taken a family vacation since we got married. However, when the idea of traveling in an RV was mentioned, all of our ears started to perk up. Family vacation might actually be possible. Family vacation might actually be a dream come true. Find out how you can help us take our dream vacation. 

camping

You see, in our family we are challenged with raising a son with extreme social anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder. A simple trip to the park or to the neighborhood library can turn into an epic meltdown or frustrating adventure. Outings leave us exhausted and drained. Even worse, I can’t help but wonder what sort of memories we are building for our children. When they look back on these years, I often wonder what they will remember.

These challenges have done something that I absolutely despise… they have turned us into naysayers. My husband and I have both found ourselves turning our nose up at the idea of family vacations. We laugh at the idea of families actually enjoying their time together. Even worse, we have become so jaded that we are robbing our children of experiences we always dreamed our life would be filled with. Before we got married, our adventures included trips to Costa Rica and camping in the open air.

It is my son’s dream to go to Legoland someday. It might be hard to believe, but he has been fixated on Lego since he was 2 years old. Some might call it an obsession. Every month, he sits at his calendar marking off days until his free Lego magazine comes in and every month we hear about how much he wants to go to Legoland. Every month we nod and say “Uh huh, we know, honey” but on the inside we both are screaming “NO WAY!”.

Up until now an adventure like this would be out of the question. The air travel alone could cause so much stress that we can’t even begin to imagine the busy park, the loud restaurants, the hustle and bustle is overwhelming. If our son covers his ears at the grocery store, what would he do at Legoland. If he can’t wait in lines without pushing and running into things at our parents’ house, what would he do with the long lines at Legoland? The sensory overload is enough to scare us away. We have become hostages to our fear.

So, what if all this could magically go away? What if we could have a “normal” vacation? One without stress and hassle, one without fear of meltdowns, one we enjoy and remember. What if a trip like that was possible? Maybe, it is! (And you can help make it happen)

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GoRVing has opened my eyes to the world of RV travel. They have a fabulous blog where you can read about a wide variety of adventures from retirees to roadschoolers. Suddenly, the world of travel doesn’t seem so scary any more. In fact, travel seems pretty exciting. There are such a wide variety of vehicles possible to use from a trailer to a large RV with all your family’s needs met in one. I used to think motorhome camping was just for people who didn’t like nature (remember, I used to camp in the open air with no tents). Instead, I am learning that RV vacations and lifestyles are for families wanting to connect with each other and Nature while taking some of the anxiety and stress out of leaving home.

RV Vacation

Our sponsors at GoRVing.com asked us to come up with our dream vacation and share it with you! In return, they are running a giveaway where you can enter to win $500! It’s a win-win situation.

You vote for our escape from Sensory Overload AND get a chance to win your own awesome prize! {voting begins May 1 and you can vote EVERY DAY!!}

VOTE

The Ultimate Sensory Friendly Vacation

Our Dream Escape from Sensory Overload

We had so much fun planning our Road Trip  using Road Trippers and GoRVing.com. Both sites made it easy to research and fun to plan our dream sensory friendly vacation. For the first time in years, we are excited about traveling with our family but we will need your help to make that possible (more on that later).

As I mentioned before a trip to Florida, Legoland, or a huge Amusement park has never been possible with any other travel arrangements. However, using an RV for our travel not only makes this vacation possible, it turns the focus to the journey, not the destination.

Road Trip with Sensory Needs in Mind

We have put just as much thought into getting to and from our base camp as we have our focal point (Florida). We have planned in sensory breaks and movement and exercise as well as calming, grounding breaks that will allow our family to stay rejuvenated instead of warn down by the vacation.

We have planned three legs of our journey, focusing on the most effective ways to avoid sensory overload by any of us. For each stop, you will see that I added in some of the sensory input we will focus on providing our family and some ideas for retreats to stay regulated so we can all enjoy ourselves.

Traveling in an RV will allow us to easily drive between locations and set up camp each night, while letting us travel with all of the comforts and regularities of home that our son so desperately needs. It will also allow us to bring along our favorite foods, our favorite bedtime stories and even our favorite family games. While these small details seem small, they are actually what make this journey possible.

Leg One: 5 Day Journey of without Sensory Overload

Starting Poing: Chicago, Illinois

Mammoth Cave National Park

Photo credit: Dave via Flicker

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Sensory Integration: Hiking, Cave Explorations, Climbing, Tactile Explorations, Auditory Explorations
Sensory Retreats: Camping and Solitude in Nature

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park & Rock City Gardens, Georgia

Sensory Integration: Hiking, Rock Climbing, Waterfalls, Heights, Calming Sounds of Water
Sensory Retreats: Camping, Wooded Areas, Botanical Gardens

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Florida

Sensory Integration: Rafting Swimming, Jumping, Climbing, Walking
Sensory Retreats: Calming water, Camping, Nature Sounds

campsites-at-fort-wilderness-resort-00-full

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabin, Florida {Base Camp}

Sensory Integration: Swimming, Nature Sounds, Hiking
Sensory Retreats: Home away from home, Calming place to retreat to after attractions, quiet dinners, moon lighting

Leg Two: 5 Day Balancing Act Between Nature and Bustling Attractions

I know what you are probably thinking… Amusement parks can’t possibly be “sensory friendly”, right? However, that is the point of this trip. The goal is to provide enough support and retreats that our family is able to enjoy the attraction like any other family, especially since this would literally be a dream come true for my son. I have researched quite a bit to find resources to make the trip more accessible and am pretty excited at the prospect of having the RV to retreat to at night or during the day if we are too over stimulated. I have listed a few of the places the children would like to explore while we are on our dream family vacation.

LLF_Park_Map_2014
Legoland® Florida
Sensory Integration: Tactile Explorations, Vestibular input on Rides, Water Park
Sensory Retreats: Playgrounds for breaks, Special Needs Pass, VIP 1 on 1 classes

Animal Kingdom

Other Day Trips from our Home Base: 
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The plan is to keep everything as low key as possible but also have some amusement parks in mind for our stay at the camp. Each of these locations are no more than an hour trip, making it a great way to spend just a few hours there and come back to nature to decompress.

Leg Two: 5 Day Decompressing and Balancing Journey Home in the RV

Have you ever gotten home from a vacation and said “Man, we need a vacation FROM our vacation”. Our hope is that with this last leg of the trip, that won’t be the case. We have built in a few campsites along the route home that would encourage grounding and revitalization.

BEach Trip

Photo Credit: Dani

Space Coast RV Resort, Florida
Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina

Both of these camp sites are off the beaten path and are known for being less crowded and among people’s favorite beach retreats. These will be a great way to reconnect with nature after the busy second leg of our trip.

Jones Gap Park

Jones Gap State Park, South Carolina

Want to know a small secret about this last stop on our trip? It is actually where we traveled on our one and only family vacation. When we got married, we went on a “family moon” where we camped for almost a week together as a family. It would be such a treat to stop here and revisit those memories as we add new ones from this journey.

Home to Chicago, Illinois

Every trip deserves a time for decompression and release. Traveling in the RV will allow us to take our time getting back to our home, while enjoying nature along the way. We have chosen quiet and secluded locations to stop at on the way home, so we can truly focus on being a family and ending the trip with positive memories.

Dream Vacation

 

ENTER TO WIN

Now for the fun part! You can send me and my family on our dream adventure! Just for voting EACH DAY you are also included in a drawing for $500. How fun would that be to use towards anything you want? So what do you say? Can you help me? Better yet, Why don’t you go with us! Well, virtually at least! I plan to blog about tips, strategies and adventures of traveling with a child with sensory needs. I hope to build a wonderful resource for all of us trying to figure this adventure out together! In the comments, tell me you favorite sensory friendly stop or tip along the route!

Vote for Our Adventures

May 1st – May 31st Go RVing will be hosting a contest on their Facebook Page featuring 20 influencers’ Dream RV Vacations. Voters (that’s YOU!) can vote 1 time a day for their favorite RV Vacation & the influencers with the most votes by May 31st will win their Dream RV trip this summer! Also, 2 voters will be selected to each win a $500 Amex Gift Card for their participation!




This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Go RVing via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

6 thoughts on “The Great Sensory Escape | A Dream Sensory Friendly Vacation”

  1. Colleen

    Dayna, Thank you so much for this blog. I have a 5 year old amazing little guy that has been diagnosed with a sensory process disorder. I to am a teacher and I am constantly trying to find ways to help him feel successful. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t me i want to feel successful at the end of the day? He is so happy all the time but it is because we tend to avoid so many things that will cause him discomfort and I know this is not how the real world will be for him. I have to find a balance and I struggle to do that. I am reading all of your posts to find your secrets and the tips you have. Thank you again!
    Colleen

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