Miriam Gwynne blogs at Faith Mummy. She lives in Glasgow with her husband (ASD, depression, and neurofibromatosis type 1), and 11 year old twins: Naomi (ASD, anxiety, eating disorder, selective mute) Isaac (ASD, non verbal, learning disability, epilepsy, brain tumour, visually impaired)
When and where did you last go on holiday?
Last November to Wemyss Bay on the West coast of Scotland
What is the best family holiday you’ve been on?
All the times we have been to Wemyss Bay
Why did it work?
The children are familiar with both the park and surrounding area and the caravan we use. They are relaxed as is my husband. We are within half an hour from the hospital (necessary for my son) so we all feel relaxed and because it’s in Scotland the children have access to all their familiar safe foods. Travel is do-able, staff are friendly and supportive and it has everything we need to hand. The kids love the beach, the nearby ferries, the on-site lark and swimming pool and they love being in a caravan.
How do you decide where to go on holiday?
For years we were heavily restricted to within an hour of the specialist children’s hospital my son was being treated at as his complex medical needs were not stable. With that in mind, and knowing we needed flexibility, independence and that my children love a caravan, I looked at caravan parks within an hour radius of the hospital. When we found Wemyss Bay (a Parkdean site) it ticked every box and from our first ever time there we fell in love with it.
What’s the biggest challenge for you on holiday?
Other people. People go on holiday and seem to leave their manners, patience and respect back at home. They often drink more, switch off to their own children and become a bit more self centred so I find we get more remarks and stares on holiday than we do at home.
What’s the one thing you always pack for a flight?
We can’t go on a flight as we don’t have passports and my son isn’t well enough to fly.
What’s your top tip for going on a long journey?
We don’t travel that far but if we did it’s plenty of stops and letting children have iPads to entertain them.
What’s your favourite holiday memory?
I loved caravan holidays as a child, though we had very few holidays as my parents had very little money and we lived off benefits for many years. I remember one holiday an hour from home in a very old caravan where we played card games, walked on the beach and had packet soups for lunch as we were skint but we had such a great time being together.
What place is the top of your bucket list?
I’d love to go to Ireland but need my son to be well enough to go that far.
What’s your top travel tip for a family with additional needs who is planning a first holiday?
Prepare. Think about each day and what you would like to do. Go onto sites likes days out with the kids and list possible places to visitor go to with prices, address and how far away from where you are they are.
Make sure you know where the nearest supermarket is if your child only eats certain foods. Know where the nearest hospital is.
Take DLA proof if you have it as this may get you cheaper access to places and fast access in some places too.
Don’t expect to go on holiday and leave your child’s issues at home. They can often feel more ‘pronounced’ with your child no longer in their comfort zone.
Look for WiFi wherever possible and know how to get your child’s technology onto it.
Allow yourself chance to unwind too.
You can find Miriam’s blog at Faith Mummy
Follow her on Facebook @faithmummy and Twitter @gwynnemiriam