Planning a special needs vacation that meets the needs of all family members when you have a child with special needs can be difficult. Lots of factors need to be taken into account, such as accessibility, travelling distance and ensuring that there are suitable activities nearby for everyone.
In this blog, we have listed ten of the best special needs family vacations to consider if you’re planning to go on holiday this winter.
There are five fantastic Centre Parcs resorts in the UK, all of which offer accessible breaks and disabled accommodation.
The lodges have open-plan living and dining and thoughtful features such as kitchens with lowered work tops. The bedrooms have an electric bed and walk-in/wheel-in showers. There are also exclusively adapted lodges available with hot tubs with hoist access, saunas and steam rooms.
Finding places to go with a special needs child can be tricky at times, but Centre Parcs offer something for everyone. Some of the swimming pools even have Changing Places toilets!
The Ramp House is situated in the trendy area of Portobello, Edinburgh. It’s an award-winning accessible home, which has truly thought of everything. The house was designed for the owners daughter, who is a wheelchair user, and has a ceiling track hoist in the living room and one of the bedrooms. There is a shower chair which can be used in an accessible wet room and one of the single beds is a profiling bed.
The house boasts a large Hydrospa in the garden – a fantastic tranquil place to relax at the end of the day!
The Ramp House is available to book on Airbnb and is close to the sandy beaches of Portobello as well as Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, which has an amazing Christmas market!
There are eight cottages at Wallops Wood in Hampshire, which have all been designed with accessibility in mind. The owners, Katherine and Andrew Graham explain on their website, “from the outset it was our intention that the cottages would be designed with mobility, hearing and vision impaired guests in mind, not just as an after- thought.”
There is a swimming pool with hoist access and the cottages each have hot tubs. There are lots of great places to visit nearby for families, including Paulton’s Park/Peppa Pig World and LegoLand. What’s not to love?
Homelands in Lundin Links, Fife, boasts purpose built, accessible holiday cottages, nestled in the beautiful woodlands.
All of the lodges have level access, widened door frames, a wet room, an electric profiling bed and ceiling track hoists, ideal for those with mobility issues.
If you want to venture out and explore East Neuk, there are two wheelchair accessible paths in and out of Homelands.
Fife is a beautiful part of Scotland and has lots of accessible places to visit, including Pittencrieff Park, which has an accessible play area and Changing Places toilet.
Safe Haven is a wheelchair accessible bungalow with gorgeous views of the sea.
From the cottage you can access the beautiful Ceredigion Coast Path and Aberporth’s sandy beaches. The bungalow was completely redesigned to accommodate families with limited mobility and offers comfortable and tasteful accommodate in West Wales.
Seastar Cottage is a beautiful five-bedroom cottage in Kent, which has truly thought of everything. It has a lift allowing access to all floors, a ceiling track hoist, profiling bed and wet room and can easily accommodate eight people.
There are panoramic sea views and direct access to the local beach. This is an accessible and stylish holiday home in a lovely area.
PAMIS’ Coach House in Aberfeldy is a holiday cottage with ramp access which can sleep up to eight people.
The living space is spacious for wheelchair users and there is a single downstairs bedroom with an electric Hi/Lo bed and ensuite facilities. There is also a mobile hoist available.
The surroundings in rural Perthshire are beautiful and it’s a lovely destination for a cosy family, winter break. The charity intends to make further improvements to the cottage in early 2020, including a tracking hoist system and wet room.
Newton Lodge is a wheelchair accessible holiday cottage with modern facilities and open plan living. Set within the Mourne Mountains, the area is breathtakingly beautiful and yet close enough to drive to Belfast city if you want to hit the shops or visit the attractions.
This is another example of a fantastic accessible resort for special needs with wet rooms, ceiling track hoists and a high and low level kitchen.
If you want to venture further afield, you should check out Happy Kids Holidays, a website that supports families with children who have Autism holiday in France. Set up by a British teacher who had personal experience of searching for holidays, Happy Kids provides a list of properties throughout France where owners have committed to providing a non-judgemental supportive atmosphere, and to take all of your questions and requests seriously with the aim of accommodating them, if possible. From meeting you at the airport to accompanying you on a day trip, it is worthwhile exploring your options with them.
Limitless Travel is an accessible tour operator, which features properties in the UK and abroad. Founded and run by people with disabilities, they promise "stress free, worry free and hassle free accessible travel". From Lanzarote to the Lake District - there are lots of winter holiday options to explore.
We hope that you find these recommendations helpful. Where is your favourite place to go on vacation?
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Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).