November 2023

Once again, I hit Cancún for a family trip to the Royal Solaris Cancun Resort. The place is amazing. The food is like eating in a gourmet restaurant, the beach is covered in white sands with lots of shells, the staff are phenomenal, the ocean water is blue, and the drinks are flowing. Tell them I referred you, hahah. Each time we stay here it is a worry-free trip. Yet this trip had some bumps in the road in store for us.

We checked in and headed out to an early dinner so we could get to sleep early. After being cooped up in airplanes and airports, our family got a little rambunctious and were laughing, singing, and just carelessly enjoying ourselves as a vacation should allow. It was 7:30 pm, and we received a phone call from the front desk stating that our neighbor complained that we were too loud. I was shocked that someone considered before 8 pm quiet time. Fast forward we spied our neighbors with a baby. Now, that makes sense! But how can another family’s needs inhibit our family vacation we sacrificed and saved for. As usual, many options flurried in my mind and I found inspiration for this travel blog post.

For kids, especially special needs children, breaking a schedule is troublesome. This is true especially when vacationing in a hotel which merges an array of schedules into close proximity. What possibility allows both families to coexist peacefully. There’s the obvious choice of Airbnb like companies where you can keep your routines and not be inhibited. When my kids were young, we loved renting a house near Disney to allow our kids to go to bed early while we simultaneously got to enjoy ourselves in our private pool, living room, or our own bedroom. Not to mention the ease of having a kitchen and laundry room at your beck and call. By the way, the cost is almost the same as a hotel room, it is amazing. But what about the times when you need to venture into the communal living of hotels, are there really options?

There is always the off chance that a hotel might have a quiet floor for early bedtimes for families with babies, families with children with special needs, or for those “the early bird catches the worm” people. I contacted the hotel and presented this idea.  I wonder if they will try this program. It will only take 1 side of a floor in the hotel and may allow a nice community of families to not only have similar schedules but parents might also find playmates for their kids.

An option you can effortlessly try is to bring a white noise machine with you, they have great small units and you can even use an app on your phone. At work when I run my air purifier, I’m always amazed that you can’t hear my clients on the floor below. Here is a free white noise app with good reviews.

Another option is to talk to your neighbors. A knock on the door or a note explaining your situation before it occurs, will make most people understanding and a little gift like a hotel survival kit with shampoo, conditioner, small air freshener spray, and even ear plugs can soften the blow of a child with early bedtime and early 6 am wake ups. The plane trend went viral with moms of young children / special needs children providing goody bags to close neighbors who will be impacted by their child’s discomfort in flight.

Let’s start a hotel trend. There will likely only be two rooms to gift rather than a plane full of passengers.

A great option for special needs kids going on vacation is a social story. It could address noise issues and really any issues you anticipate being a problem while you’re on vacation. I always recommend using the social skills story for at least the month before it is needed. Word and Google images makes this a breeze. Just write a story about what will happen for each leg of the trip with hints for how to behave in each scenario and pictures to increase interest as well as comprehension for the story. Your speech therapist can help you with this task but shown below is a nice set of instructions for making your own picture schedule.

Picture schedules are an invaluable and often underutilized strategy for helping with transitions for special needs children.

Again, about a month before travel, you could also try practicing with your child clapping hands or pushing a talking button when they wake up. It will alert you to their status and reassure them that you are going to come to them when they wake up. Or you could just set an alarm and wake up with your child around their typical wake up time. This way you can be prepared to minimize the loud sounds at the early hours of the day when most vacationers are sleeping. If your child is verbal teach them to call you instead of waking up and crying. This is a developmental milestone by the way.

I wish that couple had broached the topic with us because we felt annoyed the entire trip. I know we would have felt much different if we weren’t scolded on our first day on vacation or if they explained to us their predicament. Please insert sarcasm here, we were blessed being near our neighbors for the entire 7 days of our vacation at the pool, beach, etc. We were also blessed with 6 AM crying wake up calls every morning paired with his parents loudly getting the family ready for their day. Having insight into your footprint can prove to be helpful in situations like this. The parents may have not liked that we were loud at their baby’s nighttime but they should have thought before they acted because they knew about their early 6 AM wakeups. Compromising is not always fun but it is definitely necessary and fair when sharing space with others. Luckily for this family, we understood, we remembered how we felt when we were in their shoes, and we just chalked it up to tired parents trying their best.