Practices for a Healthy Mind: 3 Disability Friendly Vacations for the Family

When we hear the terms health and fitness, most of us immediately think about flattening stomachs and running for miles. While this is certainly one aspect of good health and fitness, it is not the entire picture. Physical health and mental health go hand in hand in a lot of ways, but many people underestimate the importance of mental health exercises. Sometimes the best medicine for a busy, anxious, and stressed mind is a break. Vacations can be some of the best health practices we can try out—just as important as healthy meals and exercise. Mental health can especially be a worry for individuals unable to exercise the way they would like. Disabilities can plague a healthy mind and make vacationing more of a stress than a relief.

There are many challenges faced by individuals and families living with a disability. Even everyday things like getting around the house or planning your next family vacation can become a struggle. While things can become more challenging when faced with a disability, a comfortable and “normal” life is entirely possible. Families living with a disabled loved one have to realize that anything is possible with only a little extra forethought.

My mother became restricted to a wheelchair when I was still very young. As a child, I remember family vacations becoming a stressor as we adjusted to living as a family with a handicapable mother. Soon we, as a family and unit, learned new ways to travel, new destinations to explore, and new ways to get around. Looking back now, working as a family to find vacations we could all take and participate in fully brought us closer together and made each of us healthier in mind and body. Here are three classic family vacations made entirely handicap accessible—and fun!

The Beach

Going to the beach with a disabled family member is likely one of the last summer destinations that comes to mind. When we think beach vacation, we picture choppy waves, sand in every crevice, and long hours in the sun—not necessarily the most handicap-inviting setting. However, today there are many beaches that have made their crystal waters and sandy lounging accessible to all. Hanauma Bay in Honolulu offers beach wheelchairs free of charge to any visitors that need them. The wheelchairs are available year round and offer access directly into the water. The Bay is also designed to be extremely wheelchair and mobility challenged friendly with various ramps and facilities. The tram to and from the beach can also accommodate wheelchairs. While Hanauma Bay is a prime example of a handicap accessible beach, there are numerous others around the world as well.

The Theme Park

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas boasts the title of the world’s first Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park”. Every ride and activity in the park is 100 percent handicap accessible. There are over 30 different traditional, adaptive, and wheelchair swings at the park along with several other rides and activities. Nothing says summertime and summer vacation better than going to a theme park, riding an amusement ride, and eating carnival food. At times, the thought of manning a wheelchair in a busy and crowded theme park can seem stressful and overwhelming. But, many theme parks offer excellent accommodations for disabled patrons.

The Campout

As a kid, my absolute favorite family summer vacation was camping out and spending time with nature. As a family, we would pack up our minivan every year and head out to the nearest national park. Camping and heading out into the wilderness is another activity many people don’t traditionally think of doing with a disabled family member. While it does take a little more planning and forethought, camping out can be a great summer trip for any family, including those with disabled members. Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful summer destination full of mountains, rivers, lakes, wildlife, and so much more. Moreover, the park offers several different ways for disabled visitors to see everything nature has to offer. Check this site for the trail and camping accessibility for disabled visitors. The park offers tons of fully accessible trails, camping spots, lookouts, bathrooms, and much more.

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