One of the things we find most interesting about travel is its ever-changing nature and how it has evolved especially in the past few years.
Not only are there new trends in housing, destinations, and upgraded airline services, but with the introduction of smartphones, and apps new opportunities have opened to travelers. For us as parents to a son with autism, some of these apps have totally revamped and even revolutionized the way we plan and enjoy our vacations. Here are some of our favorite ones.
Lodging by AirBnB
When we first heard about Airbnb we were very reluctant to try the service.
The thought of using this sort of accommodation especially after staying in hotels offering 24-hour service was daunting. However, we soon understood the value that this type of lodging provided families with autism. Not only does it give more budget-friendly possibilities for travelers, but for families with special needs that require more space for their kids to move around and feel more comfortable in a home-like environment, this is the way to go.
Getting around with Uber
When we first heard about Uber and Lyft, we could only think of the potential safety hazards of this service. However, since trying it, we have become big fans. What’s great about ‘ubering’ is the fact that travelers can get from point A to point B without having to wait for a bus or look for a taxi – especially when a child is about to have a meltdown. The vehicle ordered usually takes less than ten minutes to arrive. Moreover, not only do travelers get all the information about the driver and the route, this app allows guests to send their route to a third person so they can track them along the way to make it safer. Overall, especially in the major cities, it is much cheaper to take a service like Uber or Lyft than to take a cab or rent a car.
Recommendations by Yelp
The urban dictionary recognizes this funny name and my family took to Yelping early on when it first came out because of the convenience.
When we find ourselves with a hungry child, this app is a breeze for finding a suitable restaurant. Travelers can look under consumer ratings as well as different cuisines or diets. This fact makes the service incredibly convenient for everybody including families with special needs.
Streaming for entertainment
We couldn’t just choose one App under this title. The service of apps such as Hulu, Ustream and Netflix has made such a difference in the way we travel.
In the old days, we would have to set up and pack a VCR and multiple DVDs to occupy our kids. It would turn into an awful trip if any of these malfunctioned as we would face a giant meltdown. Nowadays with these streaming apps, we are pretty much set and ready to go if we have wifi. Thankfully, most places like restaurants, hotels, airports and even some airlines have wifi nowadays.
Saving with Groupon
We probably discovered Groupon later than others.
However, we still use the service and its competitors LivingSocial, Travelzoo and GoldStar to score discounts. These services provide great options for many families who want to travel on a budget. They are especially useful for parents who want to try places but don’t want to pay full price since they aren’t sure if their kids will even stay for the duration of the show or the meal.
Using Whatsapp to keep in touch
Though many in the US are not familiar with WhatsApp, it is incredibly popular overseas in places like Europe and South America. The app provides free and reliable communications between to people via WiFi. It is an excellent choice for families with kids on the spectrum if family members get separated. It is basically like texting but without the monthly fee involved. Viber works in the same way. Other services that are similar but not always as reliable are Facebook Messenger and Skype.
Have you used these apps or others when traveling with your family? Which ones are your favorites?-how did you like them?