Making vacation work for a child with cancer

Vacations can seem nearly impossible when your family is facing cancer, but sometimes a relaxing getaway is just what a family needs to wind down and heal together. Whether your trip consists of a flight across the country or just a drive across town, here are some tips on how to plan a cancer-friendly vacation.

Surprise your kids. Cancelling a vacation can be extremely disappointing – so remove this disappointment from the equation. Plan your trip in secret and get everything ready to go. The morning of the trip, evaluate how everyone is feeling. If your child isn’t doing well, there’s no disappointment in cancelling. If it’s looking good, surprise everyone with the adventure you had planned! Trip cancellation insurance may be a good investment – then you can get the cost of parts of your trip back if your child is too sick to travel.

Keep it manageable. If your family is able to get away, don’t try to pack too much into one trip. Pick one or two activities you’re most excited about and do those – use the rest of the time to relax together. Find ways to conserve energy, such as staying in a hotel with a connected restaurant or room service so you can spend your energy on whatever activities you have planned rather than going out for meals.

Pack strategically. Bring packaged snacks and bottles of water for long car trips or outings.  Be sure to pack extra medicine, like pain reliever and nausea medication in their original bottles or containers, especially when flying. Keep these things where you can reach them – in your carry-on bag or your purse. Also be sure everyone has the right kinds of clothes and shoes for whatever you’ll be doing, and comfort items for car rides or tough moments.

Ask for accommodations. Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask for what you need. If you’re flying, call ahead and ask how they can accommodate your situation with a wheelchair, priority boarding or a shuttle to your terminal. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask for a room with an accessible shower, a refrigerator for medications or whatever else might be helpful. Make a list of things that would make your trip easier and don’t hesitate to ask for them – you might be surprised by how willing people are to accommodate you.

Don’t go far. If sleeping away from home is too difficult, find some activities close by. Go to local museums, festivals or playgrounds. Let your kids pick a special restaurant or pack a picnic. Even if you can’t travel too far from home, a fun change in routine can be refreshing.

Vacation at home. If leaving the house has become too difficult, find a way to make a day at home an adventure. Build a fort in the living room and string Christmas lights across the ceiling to go “stargazing.” Let your kids pick a theme, then make a special meal together and do a craft that goes with the theme. Any effort to make the day special for your kids will create valued memories, whether you’re able to take a big trip or not.

If you have tips about how to manage a vacation when your family is facing cancer, we’d love to hear them! Share this post on Facebook and comment with your tips on how to make vacation more doable.

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