Our Big European Vacation
Well we did it! I am proud to say we conquered 4 countries and 7 cities in 30 days. We being; 5 children, 2 with autism, 2 adults and a whole lot of crazy.
I had been planning this trip for A WHOLE YEAR (if not more). I researched where we should go, what we should do, how could we do it with minimal sensory overload, places to stay, ways to get to each place, medicine to bring, how much to bring, what to do when a meltdown occurred, safe places, memorable places, and SO MUCH MORE!
I want to take a few moments and share how I prepared, what I enjoyed, and what I may do differently. I hope this helps another family who wants to travel to Europe. (Just as a side note, we had been to NONE of these places except the final destination Greece)
My feelings of London? I DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME THERE!! I loved my short stay in London. We stayed in what felt like a central area, maybe business districty, but near Piccadilly Circus area. I loved it. I really will go back to London one day and explore more. The pubs, I can't get enough!!
So easy to get around!! Whether you're walking or taking the tube (subway) it is SUPER easy! Also, I strongly encourage EVERYONE to download an app called #citymapper . I was able to figure out how to get from one spot to another, detailed steps, for almost all my cities I explored with citymapper.
Not enough time!!! I truly wish I had a few more days to do a double-decker tour, high tea, see more castles, explore soho better, so much I wish I could've done. So much more #harrypotter to explore.
Traveling with Autism:
I will say that if you have not already YOU MUST GET A SUNFLOWER LANYARD to travel! #hdsunflower what a savior. The airports, MOST of them, truly understood and assisted us in a very discreet manner. Hats off to this amazing organization.
I had no issues with my autistic kids (one is an adult not a kid anymore) in terms of getting around and people not seeming to worry if they had any meltdowns. This was nice especially when they did have meltdowns. They are also on a gluten free and casein free diet, a little tricky, but not terrible to find. We found some great restaurants that had options and the grocery store stocked some good options as well.
Oh Paree (Paris), I was....not super impressed. Sorry :( I mean don't get me wrong, the buildings were breathtaking. The Louvre, the Palace, the Eiffel Tower, Shakespeare and Company, the food were magnifique! However, it ends there.
It was also easy to use their transit system, we walked and trained it most places. However, we did need to call a cab a few times because it wasn't AS easy. I adored looking around, it was like the movie "Leap" and "Beauty and the Beast" came to life. The buildings were so old yet beautiful and quaint.
Language barrier was tough especially when I wanted to read if something was gluten free or dairy free. Most people spoke English it was still tough trying to navigate around and to order. It was a very busy city so I felt rushed to do things and I do love city life, it is just a bit harder in a foreign country.
Traveling with Autism:
Defintely not easy in Paris. No one gave me a hard time of course. However, since I needed to really pay attention to where I was going and what stop I needed to get off at, that meant less attention I was able to give the kids with special needs. I often felt a little overwhelmed and didn't do as much as I wanted because of fear of overload and meltdowns.
I will write more on the following cities in my next blog since we did hit A LOT and I'm not writing a book here :)
I do want to say that from London to Paris we took the Eurail. I wish I could #Eurail EVERYWHERE! It is so much easier than flying. You can bring as many bags as you want and it's nothing to upgrade to 1st class. Not all the trains were as nice as the next but from London to Paris, we definitely enjoyed!