Guest Blog: Autism Travel with Ange
At AutismBC, we listen to the voices of our members and try to learn from them. We have created a series of guest blogs to showcase the diversity and lived experiences within our community. We honour the opinions and lived experiences of the individual author and we try our best to vet all the resources contained within our website; however, the opinions expressed within the content and resources are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of AutismBC.
Ange Faminoff is the owner of “Travel with Ange.” She currently works as a Travel Advisor and an Educational Assistant for SD63 in British Columbia. Assisting travellers on the autism spectrum and with intellectual disabilities are Ange’s passion and specialty. For four decades, Ange’s life’s work has revolved around children and adults with various intellectual, sensory, neurodiverse, physical, and learning disabilities. Thank you, Ange!
“Everyone is included in My World of Travel”
Hello there, my name is Ange.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to vacation at a resort or on a cruise with staff members who respect, recognize, and welcome guests who happen to look at the world in a different way? Within the travel industry, I’ve always felt there has been something lacking – I’m here to make a change and fill that gap. I’m a Certified Autism Travel Professional with an additional Accessible Travel Certification and POPARD training. I want to help alleviate the doubts of travel for children, adults, and families with individuals on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities.
I am comfortable and familiar with meeting the challenges that a traveller on the autism spectrum or with another diverse ability may encounter during their travels. As Dr. Stephen Shore points outs, “if you’ve met one [autistic person], you’ve met one [autistic person].” What will work best for your family?
Here are My Top-5 Travel Tips:
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
- By planning for everything, you can reduce the unknown factors that you will encounter in your travels. Tailor your itineraries to meet everyone’s needs.
- Get Travel Insurance.
- Be up-to-date with Government Advisories.
- Get Visas.
- Visit an airport with programs such as CAN – YVR and request additional supports for all upcoming connections.
- Start out with a smaller trip and build from there.
Create Social Stories and Visual Itineraries
- Create a step-by-step checklist and visual schedules & itineraries to assist in presenting clear expectations to all who are travelling.
Prepare Activity Bag and/or Sensory Toolkit
- Be prepared for what your child needs.
- Bring familiar items, favourite toys, noise-cancelling headphones, fidgets, snacks, iPad, etc.
Do Destination Planning
- Choose the right destination for your child and family
- Look for direct flights.
- Reach out to your hotel and activities prior to booking and travelling to find out if they will accommodate your specific daily needs, dietary requirements, kids’ activities, water play, etc.
An inclusive Autism Travel Vacation may look like this…
At Beaches Resorts, all team members have gone through a Certified Autism Awareness Training so that children and adults on the autism spectrum can feel at ease as they will be appreciated and understood regardless of where they are in the resort. They also offer the following:
- Meet Sesame Street’s Julia, a sweet and curious 4-year-old character on the autism spectrum.
- Buddy Program – Advanced Certified Autism One-on-One Beaches Buddy dedicated specifically to your child – entire stay or for just for a few hours – so parents and caregivers can relax while the kids have fun.
- Culinary Concierge Desk – International Chefs will cater to and create custom menus to fit all members of your family’s special dietary needs.
- Waterparks, kiddie pools, autism-friendly camps, and of course a spa for parents and caregivers are just a few activities to choose from. The list goes on…
In addition to Beaches Resorts, I’ve also partnered with a variety of resorts, cruises, destinations, and attractions that embrace the opportunity to host guests on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities including:
- Morgan’s Wonderland & Inspiration Island
- Alaskan Cruises
- Banff, AB
- Palm Springs, CA, USA
Check them out here.
I’m thankful for this opportunity to combine both my passion for folks with diverse abilities and travel. I have many travel resources I can share to help you plan and have a fabulous vacation for all your family members to enjoy. What would be of most relevance to you for a future Autism Travel blog?
- Travel Tips
- Social Stories
- Visual Itineraries
- What to Pack – Packing Smart
- Navigating Airport Precheck & Screening Tips
- Sensory Guides – what works for your family?
- Attractions and Destinations rated on 5 senses
- And much more…
Please drop me an email at [email protected]
Additional Travel Resources
YVR Autism Travel Resources
Kelowna Airport: Autism
Travel Passes for People with Disabilities
12 Travel Destinations that kids with autism will love (Lisa Kadane, 2018, Today’s Parent)
enRoute Air Canada (Lisa Kadane, Air Canada enRoute, 2021)