When I was a boy, the last day of school was by far the best day of the year. Teachers couldn’t give you any more homework for three months! And you didn't have to hand anything in that was past due. It was too late. Your fate was set, whether good or bad.
But the best thing about the last day of school was knowing that when you woke up the next morning, it would be summer vacation! I would always try to sleep until noon every day that first week of summer, but it usually didn't happen because my dad would have projects lined up for us to work on. Still, my friends and I would ride our mini-bikes all over the neighborhood. When we were younger it was our bikes, and when we were even smaller, Big Wheels (does anybody remember those?) We got soaked running and playing in the sprinklers and of course freaked out when we heard the ice cream man. We'd run into the house to beg money from Mom. We crammed so much activity into each day that the three months of summertime seemed to last forever – or at least like a whole year went by before school started again.
At some point during summer, we'd go on The Trip. You know what I'm talking about. Dad would take a week off from work so the whole family could go camping or visit relatives. If we went camping, we had a list of all the necessary supplies and checked them off one by one. Can opener, check! Coffee, matches, band-aids; check, check, check! All the essential items were packed into our homemade recreational vehicle, which was an old potato chip delivery truck my dad transformed into an RV. We called it the "Big-O" because it was orange. And then off we'd go on an adventure!
I look back at those summers as some of the best times of my young life. The vacations were a blast, and I still vividly remember many of the things we did on those family trips. Now when our family goes on vacation, I'm the parent. And on several of our summer trips, my wife has commented, “The children are going to remember this for the rest of their lives." Of course, I hope they do.
But nowadays it seems harder and harder to pick something to do for vacation, especially when you add in wheelchairs, special diets, or any other extra considerations. In fact, it can be downright frustrating trying to find a vacation spot when so many of them are not accommodating to people with special needs.
So this month I thought it would be fun – and helpful – for all of us to share our best vacation spots with each other. The destinations you not only thought were fun, but the ones that were a great place to take family members with special needs. Then we'll list them on our site for everyone to see.
I'll start by mentioning an obvious one: Disneyland. We have a wheelchair, and Disneyland was wonderful for our family. The parking lots are even wheelchair-friendly.
Here's another tip: if you like RV camping, consider getting a toy hauler trailer, like the ones made to tow ATVs and other motorized toys. These little trailers work really well for hauling wheelchairs; they have a ramp that leads right into the back, making it easy to get a wheelchair into the trailer.
So send us any tips you'd like to share, as well as vacation destinations that were a big hit with your family. Who knows? One of the ideas you see on the list might turn out to be a vacation your kids will remember for the rest of their lives!