Ron Sandison shares his Tips on Traveling with Autism


This month we had the opportunity to interview Ron Sandison, a professor of theology, motivational speaker, and writer about his tips on traveling with autism. Ron, who works full time in the medical field is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American and The Art of Autism.

Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. Also, Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many others.

 Ron resides in Rochester Hills MI  with his wife, Kristen, and his baby daughter Makayla Marie.

How I started traveling

While in college at Oral Roberts University every summer I would travel to a different country for a one or two-month mission trip. When I went with ORU mission trips to Cameroon and Madagascar—I lived in the jungles for two weeks. I was able to see amazing wildlife like monkeys/apes and taste exotic foods like spicy Toucan. For our second honeymoon, my wife Kristen and I traveled to Israel for two weeks. I was able to swim in the Jordan River, ride a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee and see the birthplace of Jesus.

Twelve and counting

I had the pleasure of traveling to twelve different countries—Madagascar, Cameroon, France, Germany, Belgium, Israel, Bulgaria, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Canada. 

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How I handle airports and flights

The only thing I don’t like about traveling is airports. Boarding on airplanes gives me extreme anxiety. I hate being surrounded by strange people while battling for an overhead compartment to place my luggage. I avoid this scenario by pre-boarding. I tell the check-in flight attendant, “I have autism, and due to anxiety and sensory issues, I need to pre-board.”

If a flight attendant tells me, “You don’t look like you have autism or act like it.” I put on my funny beach hat with palm trees.
Then the flight attendant says, “Oh, I see! We will pre-board you right away.”

Sometimes I wear my funny hat just so the check-in flight attendant won’t question my autism diagnosis.

Ron Sandison shares his Tips on Traveling with Autism statueOn associating Travel with  smells

Some of my favorite travel smells include Belgium—the chocolate shops and Cameroon with its fresh bananas and mangos. In France & Bulgaria the smell of freshly brewed coffee and in Madagascar the seafood and fruit in the market!
Just thinking about these smells fills me with joy and makes me want to travel there again.

Ways to deal with less pleasant smells

Some travel scents I detest include pygmies’ bad breath—strong enough to kill a horse or mule. In Cameroon and Madagascar the odor of buses filled with locals who don’t use deodorant, bath, and are dripping with sweat from the heat.

I have learned coping skills to handle offensive odors placing candies near my nose when the scent becomes too much for me to bear. One of the best candies is Cracker Barrel’s old fashion candy sticks. I also try to set next to an open window when riding a bus or taxi cab overseas.

Ron’s tips for bouncing back from a trip

Two tricks I learned to recuperate from long trips are getting sufficient sleep and enjoying a favorite meal. When I came back from my two week trip to Israel—I slept for two straight days to regain my strength. When I travel overseas for a longer period; I like to go to one of my favorite restaurants and eat a meal I was unable to get in that country. When I returned after a two-month mission trip from Cameroon—I had pizza.

Preparing for the trip

I prepare mentally for traveling overseas by reading a travel guide and also checking out DVDs from the library on the countries I will be visiting. Two weeks before my trip I begin to daydream what it will be like to travel to that country.

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My favorite spots to visit

Four of my favorite places so far have been Masada, Foumban, London, and Loch Ness.

I love the rich history behind Masada—Herod’s Palace was the final stronghold from the Jewish Revolt to fall to the Roman Empire in 70 A.D. The view from the top of Herod’s Palace is incredible and seeing Ibex wild goats was cool.

Foumban has some of the best woodcarvings in Africa. When I visited this city, I got a woodcarving of a lion—one of my favorite souvenirs. London has excellent sightseeing and shopping spots. I liked Loch Ness because of the mystery of the “Loch Ness Monster” dating back to the 4th century.

My travel bucket list

The next three places I hope to visit are Greece, Turkey, and Australia.
I hope to travel to Greece because I teach Koine Greek and have translated 2/3 of the New Testament from Greek into English. I’d love Turkey so I could tour the seven churches of Revelation. I have memorized the complete book of Revelation. And as an animal lover, I would enjoy seeing kangaroos and koalas in their natural environment in Australia.


Ron Sandison shares his Tips on Traveling with Autism israel

My personal travel tips

My favorite electronic device to travel with is GPS, so I don’t ever get lost. Furthermore, I always bring lots of books to read while on the airplane or during down time.
Luggage wise-I pack clothes I feel comfortable wearing. I try not to over pack since I hate carrying heavy luggage.
One of my autistic special interests is animals. In fact, from age seven to fifteen I carried a stuffed animal of a prairie dog. Hence, I buy some animal as a souvenir in every country, I visit. I also collect woodcarvings and religious icons.

 I believe People with autism should be encouraged to travel

The biggest misconception individuals with autism have about traveling is that it is dangerous. Many people with autism tell me, “I am afraid to go overseas. You are endangering your life.” I  say I feel safer abroad than in many U.S cities since the crime rate is lower in many countries.

Travel has been a big part of my life. I speak and travel to over seventy events a year. I firmly believe that travel has contributed to my life by enabling me to see amazing sights and experience different cultures. I have eaten many different foods overseas—the only food I don’t like is cassava- a root vegetable.

People with autism need to travel to better understand the world and to experience life. As more people with autism travel, they will learn new social skills and also better coping skills for handling sensory issues.




Tips for Choosing Hotels for Families with Autism



One of the most important elements of a vacation is choosing the right lodgings. It is necessary for parents booking the room to take the requirements of their child with autism or other special needs into account. If they have allergies, sensitivities, and other issues, parents need to make sure that these will be addressed otherwise the vacation might turn disastrous. For those unaccustomed to asking for accommodations, here is our list of what to look for when choosing a hotel.

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Pick a property that is part of a chain

A benefit of selecting a hotel chain is that when guests encounter an issue, they can talk to their corporate office customer service. Customer service tends to listen and resolve problems quickly, especially when traveling overseas. Many chain hotels offer 24-hour service which comes in handy for a sick family member who requires sheets or towels.

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Another benefit of staying in a chain is accruing points for future stays and obtaining a loyalty status that helps with possible upgrades. Chain hotels are usually designed to look similar, so children with autism will feel a lot more at home at each hotel.

Look for a property near a  park or playground

Parents should never book a property located on a busy street unless it is a high-rise equipped with dual paned windows. Also, it is best for parents to choose a hotel close to places they intend to visit. It is not conducive to have to travel half an hour to the center of town each way, especially for those visiting a new city for two-three days and wanting to make the most of their visit.

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Prefer a property with an Executive Lounge

Whether parents wish to pay extra for access, use points or ask for a free upgrade, Executive Lounge access is great, particularly when traveling with special needs kids. The lounge provides travelers with free breakfast without having to go outside the hotel as well as free snacks, beverages, wi-fi and even some dinner appetizers.

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Research if any construction is planned on the premises or nearby

Construction translates to dust and noise even at night in some places. Also, certain facilities like pools or restaurants might become temporarily inaccessible which can affect a family’s stay. Parents should ask for a discount if the hotel is renovating and they still want to stay there.

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Inquire about the last renovation

Parents should always ask how long ago the last renovation was on the property. This information is important to know for family members who suffer from allergies. A hotel that hasn’t been renovated in many years might translate into dusty, musty, smelly rooms that could trigger unwelcome attacks. A very recently renovated property might have strong paint or glue smells, and some carpet adhesives can also cause allergic reactions.

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Ask about A/C and heat control in the rooms

Some older properties have it set to either/or, so families can be stuck with heat in winter when it is 80 degrees outside. Parents of children with temperature sensitivities should find out about the heating and cooling systems. They should also ask if both a/c and heat are accessible throughout the year.

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Find out if there will be any special events going on in the hotel or city during your stay

With the crowds, noise, and even rowdy fellow guests, special events can negatively affect one’s stay. It is good for parents to know what they should expect so they can make an educated decision.

See if the property has an open atrium with rooms opening onto it

Some older hotels are designed around a central atrium which can be aesthetically pleasing but may be a problem for guests with autism. If the rooms have balconies or windows that open, those can be a safety hazard, especially on the high floors. Also, sound carries differently in a large open space so that any music will be amplified in rooms facing the atrium. For parents who want to book hotels with open atriums, they should ask for a room on the lowest floor possible

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Find out if some balconies or windows open fully on high floors

It may sound like a basic safety issue to solve, but many properties still don’t have proper locks to prevent dangerous situations for kids with autism. Parents should always ask about locks on balconies or windows before booking any property.

If the property has pools or access to the beach, parents should also ask about safety measures they may have like lifeguards or locks on the doors leading to the outside.

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Specify you want a quiet room for your family

Technically all hotel rooms should be quiet. However, for parents of children with noise sensitivities, they need a room away from and NOT directly over or under or above certain facilities. The following is a list of services parents should request a room away from while staying:

  • The Laundry
  • Elevators
  • Executive lounge
  • Vending machines
  • Pool
  • Saunas
  • Spa
  • Gym
  • Ice machine
  • Hospitality suites
  • Conference rooms
  • Restaurants
  • Housekeeping equipment rooms
  • Cooling equipment
  • The roof

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Ask if the hotel has smoking and non-smoking rooms

When traveling abroad, it is important for families to remember that many countries still allow smoking in public places including inside hotel rooms. In the case of a property like that, parents should know that some of the smoke will inadvertently get to a non-smoking area through the ventilation system. If smoking is allowed, parents should choose a different property, especially if your kid suffers from allergies.

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Enquire about hypo-allergenic rooms

Properties like the Omni and Marriott have started offering rooms cleaned with natural products instead of chemicals. This fact is great news for allergy sufferers. Parents should find out about duvets and pillows, and if they can get foam instead of feathers.

Enquire about air fresheners and other chemicals used in the rooms and public areas

Collecting information about the air quality is important. Parents should not shy away from asking specific questions, such as inquiring about chemicals used in cleaning. Many hotels spray air fresheners that may be offensive to those with olfactory challenges or allergies.

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Ask if the property is pet-friendly

Parents might think that pet-friendly means only dogs, but pet-friendly can also include cats and birds. If guests have brought their pets, cat dander or feathers can get in the air vents that might trigger unwanted allergic reactions.

Be wise about room features and design

Some rooms are just not designed to house children, especially ones with special needs. For safety reasons, it is imperative to know ahead of time if the bathrooms have separate showers or a tub/shower combo, hand-held shower heads, bathroom anti-slip mats, and glass doors on shower enclosures.

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Cooler or fridge availability in the room

Though many rooms do come with a stocked mini-bar, some properties balk at the prospect of needing to empty it for the guests’ personal use. Parents who need to refrigerate medicines or snacks should ask ahead of time if that is an accommodation they offer.



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Most hotels do their best to provide excellent customer service and go out of their way to make sure that their guests enjoy their stay. It does help the hotel staff to know ahead of time about guests who have autism or other special needs so they can plan in advance. Parents should never be afraid to ask questions to ensure that their stay is full of good memories.



Top Seven Attractions for Families in Pisa Italy

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Pisa is an Italian city most famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, there is so much more to the city than this one architectural oddity. Here are some of our favorite places to visit in this beautiful city.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

As mentioned, the city is famous for its Leaning Tower, which is a must visit location. The Tower is a campanile or freestanding bell tower of the city’s cathedral. It is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square and is famously known for its exaggerated tilt. The tilt began during construction caused by an inadequate foundation, which was too soft on one side to properly support the structure. Efforts in the late twentieth century stabilized the slope and partially corrected the tilt.

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 Baptistery of St John

Travelers can also visit the largest baptistery in all of Italy, the Baptistery of St. John. As the name suggests, this minor basilica is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The building is considered the oldest in the city, existing since the eleventh century. The architect Doitisalvi designed the Baptistery in the Florentine Romanesque style.Top Seven Attractions for Families in Pisa Italy building

The Baptistery is mainly known for its three sets of bronze doors with sculptures, created by architects Pisano and Ghiberti. In fact, Michelangelo named these doors the Gates of Paradise. The location also saw the baptism of many famous Renaissance artists, such as Dante.

Knights Square

Knights Square was the political center of medieval Pisa. The site obtained its name after the sixteenth century when it became the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Now the Square is a center of education in the city. It is home to the main house of Scuola Normale di Pisa, a higher learning institution part of the University.

Museo Delle Sinopie

The Museo Delle Sinopie is home to the preparatory drawings and the frescoes of the Monumental Cemetery, the graveyard of Pisa. The frescoes were the works of several artists including Buffalmacco,  Bonaiuti,  Veneziano,  Aretino,  Gaddi, Puccio, and Gozzoli. The artistic works once covered the walls of the cemetery. However, the fire of a 1944 bombing damaged and destroyed many of these frescoes. Workers removed the art for urgent restoration and found the preparatory drawings beneath the frescoes remarkably preserved.

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Museo Nazionale di San Matteo

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo displays artistic works for historic buildings dating back to the early medieval period in the city and province of Pisa. The collection includes sculptural masterworks by Nicola Pisano and Donatello. There is also a display of a rich collection of antique paintings including works by Volterrano, Martini, Traini, Angelico, and Ghirlandaio among others. Other collections on display include the medieval illuminated manuscripts, wooden religious sculptures from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, and antique ceramics.

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Arno Promenade

The Arno Promenade that, as the name suggest, straddles the Arno River. All of the streets that go along the Arno tend to be youth hotspots and interesting points of reference for the tourists. One can find fantastic buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. Towers, bridges, and buildings, in spite of their actual Renaissance appearance, feature medieval aesthetics which an observant tourist can see.

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Museum of Ancient Ships

In 1998 there was an astounding discovery of the remains of an urban harbor. Excavations so far uncovered sixteen ships, restoring nine of these that are now on display at this museum. No other examples of such well-preserved ancient ships from the first century BC exist. The excavation also uncovered the cargo of the ships, including its perishable goods like ropes, rigging, fishing equipment, anchors, baskets, and fishing pots. Typically these types of items do not usually survive centuries of burial, but the conditions of the ground in this location, mixed with the absence of oxygen, managed to preserve even the most fragile objects.

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Italy is a fantastical country that offers so many amazing cities to explore. Be sure that if you ever have the chance to visit that you will take the time to appreciate the city of Pisa and all of its wonder.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Many places in Pisa are popular and can get crowded. Parents should check ahead of time to any location they wish to visit for times that are less crowded.
  • Pisa is a place full of history. Parents should look for guided tours that go in-depth into the history of these locations, especially if anyone in the family is a history buff.
  • Kids should be quiet and respectful in religious areas
  • Due to strict regulations, visitors cannot bring in bags when entering the famous tower. All personal items except cameras and wallets need to be left in locked lockers.
  • Parents should be advised the tower is seven stories high and there is no real spot to stop and rest once you start climbing .


Pros and Cons of Wheelchair Assistance When Traveling With Autism

Pros and Cons of Wheelchair Assistance When Traveling With Autism


Hi Margalit,

I’m Darla from Florida, and I read your blog regularly.
It helps reading and being able to relate to the things you write. I have a daughter who is seven years old and diagnosed with severe autism. She is non-verbal but not aggressive to others. It doesn’t happen often, but when she gets stressed out in a public setting, she flaps and pulls her hair and bites herself and refuses to walk.

We have a family reunion coming up, and we’re planning to fly with Swiss Air to Romania. Unfortunately, I couldn’t book anything direct so that we will be taking multiple flights in a thirty hour period.

Our itinerary is Florida to Newark, Newark to Frankfurt with a short layover and then Frankfurt to Bucharest. I know that we can ask the airline for accommodations for our daughter and I was thinking of requesting wheelchair assistance.

I feel a bit uncomfortable since my daughter is not wheelchair bound per se, but like I said before if she is going to get stressed and have a meltdown, chances are it will be in a new environment like an airport especially when we will have had to change planes quickly. 

Do you have any thoughts about this? 


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Dear Darla,

Thanks for contacting me. I’m glad that you have been able to get encouragement and support from my blog.
It is true that wheelchair assistance was initially created to help passengers who were specifically wheelchair-bound or who may have any other mobility issues; temporary or otherwise.

With that said, I feel that certain families traveling with autism should and can use this service. This service will help parents negotiate larger ports especially if their kids tire easily or get stressed out fast like you said your daughter does.

I need to tell you, however, that this service offered is not foolproof.


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Wheelchair Assistance Pros

The pros are that passengers are picked up literally at the aircraft door in a wheelchair. They are then taken to their next flight by the airport staff without having to wait or stop for most airport checks.

Passengers using the wheelchair service are shuttled through the airport by designated carts that are reserved for that purpose. The staff also helps with luggage or any personal belongings that these passengers might have.

This assistance can help families especially when airports are large with multiple terminals they are not acquainted with and if there is quite a distance to walk between the buildings. Also, airport staff helps passengers requiring wheelchair assistance not only with immigration and security checks but to board the aircraft before the other passengers and even settle in their seats.


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Wheelchair Assistance Cons

However, there are also several cons that the families should think about before opting for this service.

The first is the fact that although you board the aircraft first, you are usually last to get off. Therefore, you have to wait patiently in your seat for the airport staff to come and get you. This wait may not be feasible for a child with autism.

Sometimes if the airport staff is busy, they might make you wait even longer until they come and get you which can amount to additional waiting time. That extra time can be frustrating and add to the meltdown.

Another issue is if you have a couple of hours in between flights. The airline may request that you wait patiently in a designated area instead of walking around the airport or going off on your own to eat or shop. The designated area is not necessarily kid-friendly, so you need to provide some toys or electronic devices to occupy your kid during the waiting time.

In your case, since your child is rather young and nonverbal, it may be beneficial for your family to use this service. This way, you can get the extra help you need in both Newark and Frankfurt airports. They are both large and maybe somewhat daunting especially for those not acquainted with the layout.

You didn’t mention the duration of your layover in Frankfurt, so I assume it is short. If it is longer than two hours I recommend that you contact the airline. Ask if you can be directed to the airport children’s play area and food venues to pass the time.


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Concluding Thoughts

In my opinion and experience, I think that in some cases such as yours, the pros outweigh the cons.
I would suggest that you make use of the wheelchair assistance for your outgoing journey. If it is not beneficial for your needs, then you can cancel it for your return trip.

Have a wonderful reunion with your family, and I wish you well on your flights.


Staying with Family at the Vital Hotel Tel Aviv


Staying with Family VITAL TEL AVIV PIN


Tel Aviv is one of Israel’s major cities, sitting along the Mediterranean coastline. Families traveling through Israel have many hotel options when staying in one of the country’s most famous cities. We stayed at the Vital Hotel during one of our visits to Tel Aviv. The hotel is unusual as it shares a building with medical and office suites, and it doesn’t look like any other hotel we’ve seen during our travels. However, the Vital Hotel is still a valid option for some families planning a visit to Tel Aviv.

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What Makes it Family Worthy?

The Vital Hotel on 14 Weizman Street is a small and unique boutique hotel in the commercial center of the city. The hotel is in a safe area close to the beach, Weizman Mall, Rabin Square, and several restaurants, galleries, and museums. It is a budget-friendly establishment that caters to families, business and leisure guests, as well as patients from the Ichilov Hospital which specializes in medical tourism.

Families will appreciate the large rooms with opening sofas that can easily accommodate a party of five. The only “issue” is that the hotel doesn’t have the atmosphere of a normal hotel, which some might find lacking, especially since they do not have specific services at all hours.

Our Welcome

We called ahead to request our usual accommodations of a feather-free quiet room. The room was ready by the time we got there, and the staff even left us a  complimentary bottle of wine.

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Hotel Decor

This hotel was clean, modern, and stylish. The decor included parquet flooring throughout and solid, dark wood furnishings. Using hues of creams and browns with accents of black and white, it was functional and pleasing to the eye with views of Tel Aviv skyline. However, it lacked curb appeal and looked more like an office building than a hotel from the outside. Inside, the hotel felt incredibly disjointed, with seemingly no planning to the rooms on each of the floors.

Our Room

We stayed in room 512. The room was quiet and well-lit with clean, no-frills décor in a generous and functional size.
The rooms colors were simple browns, whites, and creams. The flooring was wood, a great feature for those with allergies. It pretty much looked like an average apartment.

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Our closet had basic shelving and a safe to store valuables. The hotel provided us with slippers, which is a nice personal touch in a budget friendly hotel.

Our room had a king sized bed with a nightstand. We were pleasantly surprised to find a full-sized pullout sleeper sofa that could accommodate two additional people. There were ample power sockets, ideal for families with numerous handheld devices. The hotel strives to be eco-friendly, and we found several energy-saving gadgets. We enjoyed complimentary cable TV and WiFi.

The room also had a nice desk next to the TV which was hung on the wall. Under the desk, we found the mini fridge full of purchasable snacks and drinks.

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Our Bathroom

The bathroom was also a good size with no frills. It was almost entirely white tiled, with a small pot of red flowers on the gray countertop.
We had a basic shower with a glass door enclosure. We did appreciate the fact the room had practical amenities like a handheld shower attachment and a non-slip floor surface. However, there was no grab bar.

There was ample place for toiletries and cosmetics on the vanity sink countertop, and the property provided a nice amenity kit.

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Business Lounge

We enjoyed their small business lounge, which had modest offerings and was open between 11 AM and 10 PM. Apart from being convenient for printing and Internet access, they also provided a few refreshments, snacks, and a light dinner.


The dining room served a typical but modest Israeli breakfast buffet. There was a selection of hot and cold vegetable dishes and salads, a variety of yellow and white cheeses, hot and cold cereals, boiled or scrambled eggs, a smoked and pickled fish selection, bread, and pastries, fresh fruit and liquid refreshments in the form of fruit juices, coffees or teas.

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The hotel did offer room service for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms.


Guests at the Vital Hotel can enjoy free access to the nearby mall’s health club. The on-site fitness center is equipped with both conventional and advanced fitness machines. Those flying in can use the hotel’s airport transfer service.

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We found that the Vital staff made an effort to make our stay memorable. They showed us personalized attention and did their best to attend to the guests personally. When we arrived, they asked if we were hungry and they went out of their way to provide something for us to eat and drink. We asked for chamomile tea in the room. Not only did they send four tea bags, but they also gave us crackers and a bottle of water. They were very attentive.


Pricing starts at $180 per night and includes free WiFi in all rooms and public areas.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • It is important to communicate your child’s individual needs with the hotel staff.
  • If you have a child who is noise-sensitive, do ask for a quiet room.
  • One of the many benefits of having parquet flooring is that it cuts down on allergies, but if your child is feather-sensitive for example, it is critical that you explain this to the hotel so that they can provide feather-free pillows and linen.
  • For those with asthma and other allergies, make sure that you inform the staff not to spray cans of air freshener or bug spray in the room for 48 hours before your arrival. Unfortunately, we had a bad experience with their air freshener and ended up getting sick,
  • The hotel takes safety seriously which is good, but there is no grab bar in the bathroom, so you need to make sure you are there to help your child at all times.
  • If your child is temperature-sensitive, there is a/c in the room which can be adjusted.
  • If your child is light-sensitive, there are double curtains to block out the early-morning sun.



Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly

1-Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is
The Sheraton Tel Aviv is a beachside hotel on 115 Hayarkon, Israel, right next to the beautiful Mediterranean sea. Other than its spectacular views, what is most significant about this hotel is that it is the first hotel in Israel to offer vegan-friendly food in all its restaurants. The Sheraton has a lot to offer for any guest staying in its luxurious rooms.
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What Makes it Family Worthy

The hotel is within short driving distance to the most popular attractions of Tel Aviv, including the Diaspora Museum, Luna Park, and the Ramat Aviv Mall. This hotel is a great location for any family wanting to explore the best parts of Tel Aviv. It is also, as previously mentioned, literally on the Mediterranean beachfront so that families can enjoy fun in the sun and lovely views.

Special Requests

 We called ahead and requested a feather-free quiet room. They gave us a room facing the Renaissance Hotel, which is in a quieter area of the hotel.
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Our Arrival

We arrived in the evening at 9 PM and were thrilled to discover that, after a 30-hour flight, the hotel catered to our every need and pampered us. They sent us additional towels, shampoos, and soaps, so we didn’t need to call housekeeping for any reason.

Lobby Décor

Those who enjoy 80s aesthetics will love this area. Some might find the decor to be a little outdated, but people are encouraged to be close together and do socialize which means a lot in this hotel. Travelers from France, the US, and Israel all kind of sit together and, due to the proximity of everything, socialize and get to know each other while waiting for different services.

Fellow Travelers

In the past, the Sheraton was more of a business type hotel. However, because of its beach location, its value has lessened since business travelers need to be on the fast highways. Nowadays, the Sheraton, like its neighbors, is more of a hotel that caters to families and tends to be, as such, more crowded during the Jewish holidays and the summer.

Our Room

We stayed in room 1314. We noted the wood floors, a welcome feature especially for those with allergies. The décor was mostly tan wallpaper and dark wood. The floor between the bathroom and the main room was slightly different in level, so there was some risk of tripping. There were two closets in the room, one with more hanging space, the other with more shelves. They gave us fluffy towels, bathrobes, and slippers as well as an ironing board, for which we were grateful.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly food
The room had a big safety deposit box, large enough for us to store a tablet and a 15-inch laptop. There was a coffee machine with Keurig pods on top of the dresser, which we use every morning. They closed the executive lounge early, but guests could instead indulge in purchasable drinks or chocolate in the room’s mini-fridge. The 40 inch TV near the dresser was attached to the wall and, unfortunately, immovable. Right under the TV was a bench where kids could sit or parents could leave luggage.
Our room had a comfortable king-sized bed and two nightstands with little drawers. There were night lights attached to the leather headboards. The air-conditioning was blowing slightly on our beds, and it would have been nice to see it elsewhere. However, there was a control panel for the AC right next to the bed, which we liked.
While most of the room had very nice lighting, there was a pitch dark area in the corner with the lounge chair. A standing lamp in this area would have been appreciated.
The room had a large desk with a lamp featuring three strength settings and several convenient outlets nearby. However, the chair was not comfortable to sit in for extended periods of time, and the lamp did not light up the entire desk.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly toilet
Over the windows were both thick and sheer curtain. There was an opening balcony with a secure lock that took a lot of strength to open, so younger kids could not do this on their own. On the small balcony, guests could stand and take in a lovely view of the Mediterranean sea.

Our Bathroom

The bathroom was decorated in tones of silver, gold, and bronze. The first thing we noticed was the magnifying mirror, a very nice feature. The hotel gave us an amenity kit that included Dead Sea mineral products, with a shower cap, mouthwash, and shaving package. There was a slot with tissues just under the countertop, and we didn’t like the fact that one had to dig their hands into the groove to get tissues. The entire bathroom was nicely lit, with a light up mirror perfect for those needing to shave or apply makeup.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly amenities
There was shiny rainbow tile all around the bathtub area. The shower had a grab bar, an overhead rain shower, and a handheld head. The shower was also above floor level to prevent flooding, although this fact can be dangerous for an older person who might be unaware of the step. The toilet had two options to flush depending on the type of waste as a means to conserve water.
We appreciated that the door could be locked, though wary that it was glass. The primary factor that we didn’t like was the fact there was a window facing out into the room. From the room itself, one could see people showering. While it’s understandable that this was planned to allow in natural light, many families want a certain amount of privacy while they shower. The hotel should at least provide a curtain to block the window when needed.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly view


There are several dining options onsite for any family at any time of the day.
Visitors who want some Mediterranean cuisine can visit the Olive Leaf Restaurant. Those who want a nice meal with a beautiful view should try the Kum Kum Restaurant. There’s the convenient Deck 115 for poolside dining. And finally, for a la carte snacks and drinks, guests can go to the Lobby Lounge Bar.
When we were there, the hotel’s Olive Leaf Restaurant was hosting a Peruvian Festival celebrating Peruvian culinary traditions. The Restaurant served both traditional and contemporary authentic Peruvian dishes.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly chef

Our Breakfast

The Kum Kum, where we had breakfast, featured fantastic views of the Mediterranean. Numerous windows showed off the view and allowed in natural light. The breakfast hall consisted of many different stations with all sorts of options.
In the cold section alone, travelers could get several different kinds of milk, including skim and soy. There was an entire selection of cheeses, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and French cheese. We saw various dried fruits and cereals at all the stations. Included in the hall was a salad section with all the standard vegetables and dressing options as well as pickled olives, herrings, and salmon. The venue offered gluten free cookies, a nice touch.
In the warm station, visitors could find various porridges, oatmeal, and rice. We saw the typical American fare of potatoes, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, and a make your own omelet section. The venue also had Shakshuka, a Mediterranean dish of poached eggs in tomato sauce. True to its claim as the first restaurant to offer vegan options, there was an entire vegan section. This area included sweet potatoes, potatoes latkes, and eggplant.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly juice
For sweeter choices, we saw pancakes with syrup, baked cheesecakes, chocolate croissants, homemade jams, spreadable chocolates, and even many different types of donuts. There was also a section for bread and yogurts.
Regarding drinks, the hall offered many choices. Guests could start their day with a cup of coffee from an authentic turn of the century holder. They could drink a refreshing orange juice, grape juice, apple juice or pomegranate juice. Those who love tea would find plenty of options here. And breakfast goers could even start the day with a nice glass of champagne.
From going through this breakfast hall, its becomes pretty clear that the Israeli breakfast is all about delicious white cheeses and fried donuts.

Executive Lounge

The hotel’s executive lounge is truly one of its selling points, as it offers quality food as well as engaging ambiance overlooking the Mediterranean. The lounge has plenty of seating space and offers an ample breakfast and happy hour buffet as well as snacks throughout the day with a plethora of snacks and beverages. Best part is the friendly and efficient staff running the lounge.


The hotel features a pool with a separate toddler’s splash pool. Guests can dine at the poolside restaurant bar, Deck 115. The pool area also has free wifi, a welcome feature for many families.
Why the Sheraton Tel Aviv is Still Family Friendly food


For patrons who want to stay fit while they travel, there is an onsite gym open 24 hours per day. The gym includes standard equipment, such as treadmills, bikes, and other machines, as well as a TV.


Guests looking to relax should come to the Cielo Spa. Here, patrons can get a massage, facial, and mani/pedis. They can also indulge in hammam treatments, a dry sauna, hair removal, and Dead Sea treatments.


Rooms start at $290 and include free wifi throughout the hotel as well as access to the spa and fitness center. There is 24-hour parking costing about $17 for the night

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The hotel supplies plenty of amenities for those with disabilities, including an accessible check in desk with special sound devices, evacuation chairs, accessible pool chairs, and parking.
  • Families who need certain accessibility features, such as an emergency bathroom button, special shower chairs, or roll in showers should request these when booking the room.
  • The hotel allows pets up to 25 kg. Pets are given a welcome pack, including a Sheraton dog bed. Those who have problems with pet dander should let the hotel know during booking.


Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids pinMost travelers who actually visit Romania only see the capital, which is a shame because there is so much to see in the rest of the country. For visitors fascinated by legends and folklore, Brasov is the perfect place, since it is where one of the greatest iconic horror characters lived. There are many places and landmarks to discovered around the Romanian countryside, so here are the spots we recommend to first-time travelers.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids street

Peles Castle

The Peles Castle, located in Sinaia (about 44 km from Brasov), is our top choice. The castle is considered one of the most well-preserved in all of Europe, housing over a hundred and sixty rooms. Many of the interior and exterior decorations are wooden, adding both warmth and depth to the building. Though located in a rather unknown country of Europe, Peles is a fantastic structure to behold. It also happens to house one of the most valuable painting collections in Europe, with nearly two thousand pieces of art.But what sets it apart from other castles is the fact that every single room is decorated in an entirely different style than the next -Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo, Moor, and the list goes on and on.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids hill

Bran Castle

Bran Castle is a Romanian national landmark filled with history. It also was the inspiration for the dwelling of the famous literary character, Count Dracula.

Romanians have taken the legend of the Count under their wing and hold yearlong events honoring Dracula and local myths. These events range from live musical performances, family fairytale fairs, and of course a Halloween event. What parents should know about Bran Castle is that the castle does not include purposefully scary places. As a result, the castle is entirely family friendly to visit. Just recently, the castle held a storyteller’s fair for children where employees dressed in medieval costumes, played games, performed, and retold folkloric stories to visitors.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids castle


If travelers have had their fill of castles, then we recommend taking a lovely day trip to the city of Sibiu. Sibiu is a multicultural city that honors and unifies the different cultures ethnicities living there. Those interested in Romanian myths should visit the Liar’s Bridge. Liar’s Bridge connects the lower and upper parts of the medieval city. The urban legend has it that if someone sits on the bridge and tells a lie, the bridge will collapse.

Another site to see is the Council Tower, one of the most famous monuments in Romania. The tower was used to defend the entrance gate into the second precinct. Those interested in religious history should see the Holy Trinity Cathedral, built in the early 1900s in a Byzantine style. The murals and stained glass work are breathtaking and comparable to those found in the main European capitals.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids gold


Visitors fascinated with the legend of Dracula should take a day trip to the quaint city of Sighisoara. The city claims to maintain the home where Vlad the Impaler (thought to be the original Dracula) was born. Besides Vlad the Impaler’s house, guests can also venture to the Clock Tower. Here, they can see the entire city of Sighisoara from the top, or explore the Torture and Weapons Museum. There are some churches worth checking out in Sighisoara. One is the Monastery Church, significant as the only church in the area without a bell. The Saxon builders thought that one bell (the one in the nearby Church on a Hill) would be enough for the entire small city.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids mural

Rasnov Fortress

For the history buffs, we suggest visiting the Rasnov Fortress. Teutonic Knights built Rasnov Fortress as part of a defense system against the Tartars. As a result of the constant onslaught of attacks, Rasnov became more of a dwelling property than a fortress. The fortress, an integral part of Romanian history, is an interesting structure to explore. One can reach the fort via car or by trekking up the steep hill, which might be somewhat unpleasant on hot days.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids tall

Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary

Bound to please the entire family is a visit to the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary. Founded by Cristina Lapis, the sanctuary is located in the Carpathian Mountains and covers over seventy hectares (roughly 173 acres) of oak and hazel forest. It is an interesting and inspirational place to visit. Guests can watch Romanian bears in their natural habitat and learn about the illegal and abusive exploitation of native bears. Potential visitors should call the Romanian Bear Sanctuary office based in Brasov and verify hours of operation. The sanctuary offers group visits, but it is best to call ahead to ensure a spot. This is because the sanctuary is a small place and cannot accommodate many people at once.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids bear

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Families traveling to Romania, especially to the area around Brasov, should remember that it might not be comparable to a Westernized country or setting. Hence, packing daily necessities that your child with autism needs should be a priority.
  • For Peles castle, be aware that there are lots of stairs and parents need to prepare kids for the fact that they cannot touch many of the exhibits.
  • While visiting Bran Castle, travelers need to be aware that it is a little hike to get to the castle itself, so dining down at the mini-mall restaurant setting and bringing bottled water is a good idea.
  • For Bran Castle, you may want to get an organized tour to hear the stories, depending on your child’s age. Some of the rooms are not that enjoyable for the younger kids.
  • To reach the top of Bran Castle, there is an area that visitors have to climb a narrow staircase in the dark, which might frighten some younger kids.
  • Sighisoara might be a good place for older kids and history buffs, but younger kids might find it less entertaining. Be aware that, since this is the Romanian countryside, some of the roads are unpaved and parents might want to sit and pack an extra set of clothes in case their kids step in mud.Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids suspicious
  • We do not recommend Rasnov Fortress for younger children who might not understand its historical and military significance. Getting up to the fortress is quite a hike, and many rooms in the fort are either wholly or partially destroyed, which the younger kid might find boring.
  • Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes because of the rough terrain in Rasnov Fortress.
  • Do prepare your child how to behave safely around bears in Zarnesti. Though not in direct contact, your child with autism needs to respect their space and not throw any food or objects at the bears. They also cannot stray from the path on which the sanctuary guides lead visitors.
  • The tours in Zarnesti are on the hour, so there might be a bit of a wait for which parents need to prepare their kids.


Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown



Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown

The Courtyard Long Beach Downtown, located at 3841 N. Lakewood Boulevard, boasts 261 well-appointed rooms. This hotel is an excellent choice for travelers wishing to explore the area of Long Beach or the Island of Catalina for the day. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the hotel is within walking distance to various restaurants, the Convention Center, and the beach. The city’s main attractions, the Aquarium and Queen Mary, are less than a ten-minute drive away.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown outside

What Makes it Family Worthy

The property offers rooms with two queen sized beds and king beds with a pull out sofa for families. The hotel is close to entertainment and food spots as well as city parks and beachfront. However, it is on a much quieter street than the main thoroughfare Ocean Boulevard.

Fellow Travelers

The property regularly hosts business people that come into town for conferences as well as recreational vacationers looking for a more budget-friendly option to stay outside of LA proper.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown chair

Our Welcome

As usual, we called the hotel to ask for our particular needs which are feather-free bedding due to allergy and a quiet room to help our son with autism who is extremely noise sensitive. The front desk staff was incredibly helpful and assured us that everything was already noted both in our Marriott profile and reservation. We were not disappointed! Check-in was short and went smoothly.


Upon entering the property, the first thing we noticed was the modern, eclectic style decor. The walls were done in orange with black accent pieces. The lobby furniture in tans and blues complemented the orange walls and accent pieces spread throughout the public areas. The overall effect was visually pleasing and gave the place a laid back atmosphere.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown bed

Noteworthy is the large screen TV with a sitting area that could occupy younger kids or family members while their parents are checking in.

Our Room

When we initially entered the room, the first thing we checked was the evacuation chart on the back of the door. Our room was situated near one fire extinguisher and two alarms and was five doors from the exit. It is always important for parents to teach their kids how to behave if there’s an emergency and explore the fastest route to the nearest exit.

The closet was on the immediate right as one entered the room and had plenty of space. Included were hangers along with an iron and board, ideal for patrons in town for business meetings.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown tv
Speaking of storage; most hotels provide luggage racks, but we’ve typically found them to be a bit on the flimsy side. However, at the Courtyard, there was a luggage area that doubled as a sitting area. This area was a welcome feature, and we could store our suitcases out of the way while they were still readily available.

The sleeping area in the room boasted two comfortable queen beds. The wall behind them displayed a beautiful mural of a beach scene. Situated between the two beds was a nightstand with a phone and alarm clock on top of it. The sitting area by the sliding door consisted of a chair and ottoman.

Furthermore, the room had a separate section with a desk and a chair for business people to comfortably do their work.

Something that surprised us was the way the hotel utilized space and presented their air conditioner room units. Most air conditioners installed in the rooms take up a lot of space. But, to compensate for the reduced space, at the Courtyard, designers placed a table over the air conditioner. The AC unit was super quiet and didn’t disturb our family at all.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown space

The lighting was another feature that was different than other places we have stayed in recent years. Normally there’s an array of floor and desk lamps with old fashioned switches around the room, but at this Courtyard the lights are turned on via motion sensor. So, as soon as travelers enter the room and pass by the motion sensor the lights turn on automatically. This way guests don’t have to fumble around for switches.

We loved the room flooring which was wood, unlike many other properties that still sport wall to wall carpet. I can’t say enough about the benefits of wood versus carpet flooring when it comes to traveling with allergies and asthma like we do.

Could Use Improvement

The room had a balcony with a sliding door which might be hazardous for younger kids because it only has one lock that slides up and down and was relatively easy to open.

A disappointment to us was the lack of safes in the room to put our electronic devices. We hope that during the next hotel renovation, room safes will be added.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown bathroom

The Bathroom

The glass sliding door to the bathroom didn’t have a lock, which is something I would have liked to see, but the use of a sliding door was a nice way to save space in the room. Just like in the room, there was a motion sensor for the lighting in the bathroom.

The gray speckled granite counter top extended out over the commode to give guests more space in the small room. The designer deserves due credit for cleverly utilizing the space.

Of course, there was a mirror for applying makeup or shaving, and the included toiletry kit was Paul Mitchell brand.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown AC

The curtained bathtub and shower combo had a grab bar. Unfortunately, we saw no handheld shower head, a feature that would have made bath time easier for parents or caregivers when washing special needs individuals or younger kids.

We appreciated that the hotel staff made sure to give us enough towels for four guests, something a lot of hotels don’t do unless specifically asked.


The venue featured complimentary Wi-Fi for guests, always a welcome upgrade for families.

There was an onsite gym with basic workout equipment, including treadmills, a press bench, and bikes.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown pool

Guests we welcome use the outdoor pool or hot tub, but parents need to be aware there is no lifeguard on duty.

The hotel did have a mini store that sold drinks, snacks, and frozen foods if any guests happened to get hungry in the middle of the night.

Dining Option

The hotel flagship restaurant is called the James Republic where we enjoyed a quick happy hour snack and our next day breakfast, an egg asparagus toast sandwich. We got the delightful opportunity to meet the chef, who discussed his farm to table concepts implemented in the venue. He mentioned, during the chat, that he had recently spearheaded a culinary cruise to the Greek Islands on Celebrity Cruises.

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown food

The downside was somewhat slow service and high prices for the dishes that could deter some travelers from trying it. We did like the restaurant decor, which was eclectic with a hip vibe, and that it had both indoor and outdoor seating.


Pricing starts at $160 per night. For a little extra, at around $180 a night, you can get a room with a view of the Queen Mary. As mentioned above, rooms come with complimentary high-speed wifi. Parking onsite is $22, and valet parking is available for an additional fee.

Autism Travel Tips:

Family Stay at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown table


Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism

Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism pin

With recent US studies showing that 1 in 68 children receive a diagnosis somewhere ‘on the spectrum,’ autism issues are on the rise. There needs to be more attention paid to these matters, especially in the hotel industry. Families who have children with special needs, such as autism, often encounter extra challenges in life. When it comes to travel and hotel stays, these challenges become even more evident. With dedicated training, attentiveness and a general increase in awareness, hotel staff could make the visits of their guests with autism easier and far more pleasant for all involved.

Some accommodations for families with autism are more successful than others, and some need improvement. In all the years our family has traveled around the world with our son with autism, we have learned what works for us and what doesn’t. Here are a few tips, ideas, and suggestions that the hotel industry should consider implementing.

Have a Knowledgeable Concierge

The concierge is often one of the first people hotel guests have contact with on arrival. They help make reservations and other arrangements to ensure an easy stay. For guests with autism, concierge staff could expand their role to include assistance with medical rentals and purchases of needed supplies from drugstores and local pharmacies.

Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism trees

Furthermore, it would be helpful if the hotel staff compiled a list of both outdoor and indoor activities in the area suitable for children with special needs and autism. Families dealing with autism always want to know about free events or places that offer discounted rates for autism.

Create a Social Story

Social stories are an ingenious and modern way of educating and engaging children with autism. Most children seem to relate well to these little mini-books that describe situations in a patient and reassuring way. For those with autism, these stories are a form of role-playing that they can understand.


Hotels should create a social story unique to their properties. In the story, animated characters could walk their readers through the hotel public areas and room while explaining proper behavior in each location and situation. This method works well even for kids with autism who are non-verbal.

Update the Menus

Hotels that have restaurants on-site need to make sure that there are more gluten-free options on the menus. These restaurants should also have other choices that cater to those with food restrictions, such as nut-free and dairy-free. These options should extend to the room-service menu as well.

Also, offering longer breakfast buffet hours in some cases can be helpful. Families with autism often find the morning transition challenging as it is, so this would be an appreciated option.

Quiet Tables

Hotel restaurants should designate a table or two in a more secluded part of the dining area to provide a quieter space for patrons with autism. Restaurant staff should ensure that the table is nowhere near the entrance to the kitchen or bathrooms. These places are not quiet spots and might be challenging for visitors that are smell sensitive. If the restaurant has any background or live music, the designated quiet tables should be away from the stage, the loudspeakers or any other source of music.

Additional Training for Kids Club Staff

The kids clubs in most hotels do a fabulous job providing entertainment to many children of all ages. However, many personnel do not have the specific behavior training to handle children with autism. Hotels should train their kids club staff to become more autism aware. Companies also need to equip staff with the right tools to accommodate guests with autism.Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism room

Moreover, the staff should be taught that when any kid with autism feels overwhelmed, they should have the option to take any arts and crafts activity and do it in their room or come at assigned times when the club is less busy so they can get more personalized attention.

Make Rooms More Autism-Friendly

It would behoove hotels to overhaul at least some of their rooms to accommodate guests with autism and allergies. To help patrons with allergies, hotels could stock hypoallergenic cleaning products, amenity kits with hypoallergenic cosmetics products, and forgo using air freshener.

Hotels could also assign specific quiet and secluded rooms to accommodate families with autism. These rooms should not be placed over or under the restaurant or dining areas. They should be away from laundry rooms, elevators, the Executive lounge, vending machines, the pool, ice machines, banquet halls and hospitality suites where conferences are held. It would make sense for these rooms to be on a higher floor to ensure less noise from traffic and the lobby. Also, these rooms should not be in proximity to any gym or roof where A/C machines are placed.

Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism thing

Some children with autism try to escape when their parents are momentarily distracted. To mitigate this, hotels should offer stick-on motion detectors for doors and windows. These will alert parents if the child exits the room so they can respond accordingly. Within the room itself, providing dimming light switches would also be a wonderful accommodation for light-sensitive children with autism.

For properties wanting to go the extra mile, they can install better window insulation, such as dual pane. Hotels could also provide extra wall padding to minimize noise in the room. Minimizing noise will help everyone since some sounds that children with autism make can disturb others.

Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism sink

Many families with autism have difficulties occupying their kids. Because of this, it would be helpful if hotels increased the number of kid’s TV channels, offered iPad rentals, and installed more power outlets in the rooms.

Finally, to increase bathroom safety, hotels should provide non-slip mats and install hand-held shower heads. This will allow parents to better help kids who are not able to bath independently.

In Summation

By making the stay of families who have children with autism easier and enjoyable, both hotels and guests benefit. Patrons will benefit by having an easy going, uneventful stay. Hotels will benefit by seeing more business from these patrons who keep them in mind for their next visit. The hotel industry should strongly consider most if not all listed changes to help every guest in the modern world.

Six Suggestions for Hotels Accommodating Autism bag

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family




The Alhambra Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Granada, Spain that features well-preserved Moorish Architecture. It is also a vast and beautiful palace that travelers from around the world flock to see. Visitors can gaze at this fantastic “pearl set in emeralds,” cited as an example of Muslim historical art. If visitors find themselves in this part of Spain, they absolutely cannot miss this fantastic piece of history.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family landscape

Alhambra’s History

The Alhambra Palace was originally designed as a small fortress in the year 899. This fortress was forgotten by history until its renovation in the mid-thirteenth century. The fortress officially converted into a palace in 1333. The Alhambra Palace, as recognized now, was built for the last Muslim rulers in Spain.

Traveling European scholars rediscovered Alhambra Palace in the nineteenth century. Through its restoration, the Alhambra Palace has become one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and is the country’s most significant and well-known example of Islamic architecture.

What to Marvel About

The palace is composed of a series of rooms and courtyards intertwining to create a fantastical maze of architecture and design. The palace’s tremendous size can be attributed to the gradual addition of rooms varying in dimensions and connecting each other. As travelers will find out, the majority of the buildings are quadrangular in shape with the rooms opening up to a central court.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family water

Not only is the Alhambra Palace itself large, but it is also surrounded by an enormous woodland. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra) is a gardener’s paradise because of the overgrowth of wildflowers, roses, oranges and myrtles all planted by the Moors. Not to be missed is the dense forest of English Elms that were brought over by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 and which enhance the natural elements of the palace.

Not to be Missed

One should take the opportunity to visit the Hall of Ambassadors. The Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de Los Embajadores) was the grand reception room and also where the Sultan sat to greet his guests. The hall is exquisite with four-foot walls covered in tilework that hold a series of oval medallions with inscriptions, interwoven with flowers and leaves. The ceiling is also exquisite, painted in white, blue and gold inlays in the shapes of circles, crowns, and stars.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family tile

Those interested in stories and legends should stop at the Hall of the Abencerrajes. The hall itself is splendid with a honeycomb style dome and beautiful mosaic tiles, but it is the story itself that draws pedestrians. Legend has it that the last sultan of Granada invited the chiefs from the Abencerrajes family to the Hall of the Abencerrajes (Sala de Los Abencerrajes) and slaughtered them all because of a romantic dispute. In the room, there is a fountain where you can see rust spots claimed to be the blood of the murdered chiefs.

The Courtyards

There are a few courtyards that one must see if visiting Alhambra. Probably the more famous of the courts is the Court of Lions. The Court of Lions (Patio de Los Leones) is surrounded by a gallery supported by 124 white marble columns. Paved with colored tiles and white marble, the court gleams in the sunlight creating an airy feeling as guests stroll. Various depictions of foliage adorn the columns themselves. In the center of the court, you will find the famous fountain lions. The fountain is an alabaster basin supported and surrounded by twelve marble lions. The Lions all represent strength, power, and sovereignty. As visitors walk around the fountain, they will find at the edge a poem written by Ibn Zamark attempting to put the wonders of the Court of Lions into words.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family fountain

Another important court to visit is the Court of Myrtles. The court holds a pool to help keep the palace cool in the warm summer. Interestingly, this pool is also a traditional symbol of power. Water was scarce at the time, and keeping the pool full was a challenging and tedious task. There is also a pond set in marble full of goldfish with myrtle growing along the sides, which is said to encourage peace and tranquility.

Our Take

We took an organized tour so that we wouldn’t have to deal with tickets or entrances. The palace is wondrous, but it’s best enjoyed with older kids. Even our children had one or two moments where, after seeing several of the halls, they were a little “halled out.”

The most interesting thing we explored was the Women’s Quarters. Here, walls separated the harem from the rest of the palace. The separating wall had tiny peepholes that the women could peek through to see what was happening without being seen themselves.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family arch

Not only did our kids learn about Spanish history and the Moors, but they also saw the different beautiful mosaic designs on the walls and exquisite wood carvings unique to the palace. Our family considered it a day well spent.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The best time to visit is in spring or fall, as it gets crowded and hot during the summer. It is also best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid these crowds.
  • You can buy tickets ahead of time, which we highly recommend. Your family can also take an organized tour of the palace.
  • The palace is easy to walk, though there are a lot of stairs. Prepare your kid for walking, and make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes.
  • If you visit in the summer, you may have to deal with bugs or heat. Bring sunscreen, water, insect repellent or a mini fan from home, or consider coming in the fall.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family door

  • Pickpocketing is frequent around the area. Watch your belongings, wear a money belt under your garments, and don’t bring electronics unless you’re prepared to hold them in hand at all times.
  • Visitors are not allowed to touch things within the palace. Prepare your kid for this accordingly.
  • The palace is vast, and you could easily spend an entire day there without noticing. However, for kids, two to three hours is enough time to explore the best parts of the palace.
  • If your child is not a history or architecture fan, they might feel bored by the guided tour. You’d be better off just seeing one or two halls and courtyards and calling it a day.
  • Wheelchairs are available in the main ticketing office. There is a wheelchair accessible route through Alhambra, though visitors taking this course won’t see the entire palace.
  • You can buy replicas at the shop, all handmade by local artists. Our son fell in love with a beautiful bone model. These are expensive but well made.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family end

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