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Hope's Travel Desk is focused on assisting families who want to get away, and who are looking for someone that is familiar with the extra special help they'll need to do it.
We know first hand many of the questions and concerns that need to be taken into account when you're traveling with a family member who has Special Needs - we know these because we are one of these families, and we've been there ourselves.
You see, our youngest child was diagnosed with Epilepsy before she was 1 year old and for MANY years her doctors were unable to find a way to control her seizures. They told us that it was important for our family to get back out there and live our lives just as we had before that first seizure. But we just didn't seem to be able to find a way - instead, our family went into a somewhat self imposed prison. We didn't go anywhere we didn't absolutely have to. Looking back now I think it was mostly because of fear - fear because we thought we might not have the resources available to handle a seizure if one happened and we weren't right there in our own home town, surrounded by the things and places that we were familiar with.
The doctors kept trying new ideas, and after many trials of different medications, they were finally able to find a combination that worked for her. They couldn't tell us if the control was temporary or permanent, but we knew that our family needed to do something with the opportunity. It was finally time to allow ourselves a mental and physical "break" from things - and so we decided to hit the road!
The next time we ventured out we went to one of my favorite places in the entire world - we went to Walt Disney World!! I won't tell you that making the decision to take that trip was an easy one for us initially - it was going to require us to travel by airplane (something we hadn't done before with our daughter), and that was definitely going to put us entirely out of our comfort zone. But I must tell you that the decision to go was TOTALLY necessary and I am so glad that we did! This trip had it's share of challenges, like learning how to go through airport security with our daughter's emergency medication. And then when we arrived in Orlando our daughter experienced a seizure - something that hadn't happened for almost a year. It wasn't exactly the start to the "perfect vacation" that we had planned for but we tried to stay focused on the positive. After we drove through the gates of our Walt DisneyWorld resort and reached our room we found that we had renewed strength in our decision to be there. And over the next few days as we watched our daughter enjoy the things we had only dreamt she could, we knew we had made the right choice. We went a little slower then most of the other families we saw in the parks, and we weren't able to stay for as many hours as they did - but it didn't matter. WE WERE THERE!
With everything we learned on our Walt Disney World vacation we decided to push on and go even further with our next trip - we decided to take a cruise! This time we went with a larger group of friends and their families, and decided to take a relatively short one (only 5 days), but it was SO amazing!
When we returned from that trip I found that I felt really energized. I started talking a lot more to the other parents I had met over the years in the different support groups I belonged to about all of the different places we had been going to. I shared with them some of the amazing memories we were making and I told them how thankful I was that we had finally decided to do it. They always had questions for me, really good ones too, but the one I think I heard the most was "How did you find the courage to do that?" My answer to that one was always the same - "I did A LOT of research, and once we had those answers we decided it was time".
After having this same conversation over and over with SO many families I thought to myself - what if there was a way I could offer to do all of that "homework" for other families out there, ones that were just like ours, and then share it with them. I could show them that the vacations they'd only allowed themselves to dream about up until that point really COULD happen. And if I offered to share with them all of the things I had learned over the years, the types of things that are important when traveling with a family member that has special needs, that I could help these same families feel more comfortable about taking that getaway.
I knew I needed to do this - and so I became a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate.
And that's how Hope's Travel Desk was born!
If I've just described your family, and you've been thinking about finally taking that long overdue vacation, I would really encourage you to reach out to us.
We are here to listen, and I promise you, we will do everything we can to help you find all of the right pieces to your special puzzle so you can take that very much needed (and deserved) getaway.
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