So for spring break this year my husband and I took our special needs kids to Peru. Yes you read that right. We took a 13 year old with ADHD and Anxiety problems and a 7 year old with FASD to a third world country for 10 days. Are we crazy? (Um we’re parents – isn't that kind of a given?) Actually we put a lot of time, planning, and preparation into making this trip as special needs friendly a trip as we could.
We chose Peru because we happen to have friends that live there. And they own a hotel. My kids both know these people and are comfortable with them. They know my kids and their quirks. So although they will be dealing with a lot of unfamiliar things - they will have some familiar too. Our friends sent us photos of the hotel and our room in advance for us to use to prepare both kids.
Also we brought along plenty of back up. Nana, two of their Aunts and an Uncle traveled with us and their other Nana, another Uncle and a family friend met us there. (No we didn't pay for all of this – we are crazy not rich!! It was along the lines of a family vacation with everyone who could make it.) So we had lots of extra eyes, arms, and legs on hand. I mean the adults outnumbered the kids 9 to 2 so I figured if you throw in our friends in Peru as well we should at least be able keep up with them.
Was it a very ambitious undertaking? Sure, but like I've said before we want our kids to live full lives. They are smart, interesting and active kids. So, we went. And with all the prep work and built in accommodations what could go wrong?
Here’s a little overview of just the highlights. (of the trip - not just what could go wrong. Although of course a few things had to right?)
3/22/14 D (for departure day) minus 6. I begin packing. Really doesn’t everyone start packing almost a week before they depart and keep a spreadsheet of items to pack and which goes in which bag and in what order? Seriously, the key to surviving travel with my kids is having the right clothes, meds, comfort items, snacks and distractions on hand and easily accessible when needed.
3/27/14 D Minus 1 - If it’s not packed it’s not going.
I’m in Little Man’s room checking over his carry on one last time when it occurs to me I have not seen the hamster stir in the cage in , hmm, how long HAS it been? Oh crap, dead hamster! Um, honey can you call your dad and ask him to come over after we leave and get rid of the dead hamster? And maybe pick up a new one that looks kinda like this one please? What?!? No I’m not telling the kids. Do you really want to spend the next 18 hours traveling with the kids obsessing over the dead hamster? Husband makes the call.
We tell the kids the Hamster is just asleep.
3/28/14 D Day – we get everything loaded and on our way with no mishap – it’s an omen!
8 AM in the car on the way to the airport I realize sitting next to my children when they are over excited is like being in a cage with two Rhesus monkeys on crack.
10:00 AM Arrival at airport and check in. Flight delayed. Feeling confident we can deal with this.
12:00 Flight still delayed. Kids actually holding up well. Initial over excitement past – cranky not here yet. We can cope. Time to break into packed distractors.
2:42 PM Rebooking new flights since original cancelled. Kids are getting crabby. Distractors not so distracting any more. Taking lots of walks around the terminal.
6:53 PM Finally boarding a plane. Why did we think this was a good idea again?
10:49 PM The airline personnel at JFK thought they were not going to issue us tickets for the connecting flight. Ha – aimed the over tired children at them and we sailed through to the gate tickets in hand.
3/29/14 12:01 AM Flight delayed again. Children rioting through empty airport doing drugged rhesus monkey impersonation again.
2:00 AM Its time to board. Of course it is, because this happened like 2 seconds ago!
Image is a photo of my kids sleeping on the airport floor.
6:32 PM – We are here. The rest of the travel was a blur – I can’t remember any of it. No really. The brain protects itself from traumatic events like that. The hotel is lovely. The weather is wonderful. The kids are sleeping. My enthusiasm for this vacation is returning. The PISCO may be somewhat responsible for that..
image is the lovely courtyard garden at Casa de Avila