Dawn Barclay – Author of “Traveling Different”

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Travel can be stressful when you do it alone but add on the pressure of making a trip fun for your child and that’s when the heat is really cranked up! This episode is about traveling with your neurodiverse kiddos. Do you travel already? Ever taken a long flight with your family? How about a cruise? Well, if the thought of those gave you anxiety, this should help. We spend some time with Dawn Barclay, a lifelong traveler, writer and mom of 2 who when they were young she described as “anxious and inflexible”. She has a motherlode of tips for travel and really just makes it all sound easier than expected.

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[00:00:00] Well as you know if you've paid attention to the podcast at all that we we travel we get out on the road We go to visit family from coast to coast right South Carolina to Southern California Both of them are S C by the way we do a ton of rollercoaster running around the nation And we've also spent time in our bus And that's pretty cool Traveling has been pretty important to us but we're joined by our friend Dawn Barkley today who has written a book And we would love to share what she's got from a professional's view not just a couple of parents on travel.

[00:00:33] So a little bit about Dawn she's an award-winning author who spent 30 plus years working with different aspects of the travel industry She attended Tufts university and afterwards she worked in sales like I do now marketing and management for her parents firms Barkley travel international or excuse me limited and Barkley international group short term apartment rentals So she knows a thing or two About the travel industry next she branched out into travel trade reporting with senior or contributing editor positions at travel agent magazine travel life travel market report and most recently insider travel report So we've got a big hitter here She holds a degree in psychology and in marketing She's a mother of two She resides in New York scenic Hudson bay She also writes fiction as DM bar and holds leadership roles in several writer organizations he is available for speaking engagements and delights and hearing from her readers like us You can write to her@Dawnbarkleyauthoratgmail.com If you would love to reach out to her but welcome

[00:02:09] Thank you so much for having me I really appreciate

[00:02:11] I think I've shared a good bit of your background but I'd love to hear an expanded version on that So what's your background like and what prompted you to write this particular book

[00:02:19] I got to tell you just listening to that intro I'm tired I feel old and I'm tired and I doesn't even cover half of what I've Dawne but that's fine why did I write the book quite honestly because of when I needed this book about 10 15 years ago it didn't exist I needed it and I I couldn't even write it then because the resources weren't available And it's but recently when groups like IBC CES for the international board of credentialing and continuing education standards created the certified Autism travel professional designation that I was able to have people to reach out to and speak to And they introduced me to their clients who work And a lot of them are parents of special needs children as well So I was able to get much more of a handle of how to research and write this

[00:03:12] So a certified what was the certification again Could you repeat

[00:03:15] Certified autism travel professional C a T P These people many of them are parents I said have special needs children themselves They have taken an extensive set of classes to be able to handle the needs of a community And I have interviewed wow at least 15 for the book and I have information in the back on how to get ahold of them and everyone else who holds the designation

[00:03:43] That is really cool I didn't know That was a I didn't know That was a thing that was actually really neat What are some examples of the things that I guess qualifications or things that they may learn to do this Because this actually might be interesting to you know members of our audience to be to become certified in and pursue as a job or

[00:03:58] Yeah it's multi multi class designation and they study what autism is and autism as it pertains to different modes of transportation And I think the number one Take away that I got from everybody that I interviewed about this designation as they learned that all children are different and one size doesn't fit all And I just wanted to say about your background with all the traveling you do that you're the exception rather than the rule because they interviewed or they surveyed a thousand special needs parents and found that 93% of them did not travel but sit they would the if they knew where to go and how to do So congratulations to you guys

[00:04:41] Ah well thank you very much What I mean Yeah we've put together resources We've helped people before but very specific like Hey you know we talk about travel as a big industry and then traveling for people with disabilities and then traveling with people That are you know autistic and then even there's a varying degree of autism you know express there as well Like I think we could put together a little pamphlet on Hey how to go ride roller coasters and travel with your neuro-diverse kids but that's about it

[00:05:14] Well I got to tell you that so much of it is preparation as you probably know and thinking through every aspect of the trip ahead of time and how you're going to handle it And that's what I've tried to do in the book I start with starting small and how you can begin to even think about travel and create a frame of reference for a child that needs predictability since that's so crucial for people on the spectrum and how you're going to deal with the sensory issues that come up along the way and so I go from there to talking about whether you want to go foreign or domestic and how you're going to handle airlines and how you're going to handle Buses trains car rides restaurants accommodations venues roller coasters There's a whole bunch of talk about theme parks and many of them are now certified by that same organization as certified autism centers They've taken specific training on how to work with members of the autistic community And then there are other destinations and locations that I label as autism friendly And with all of those it's important for our reader to call before they go and make sure that what is offered is right for your child And also hasn't changed from when the book came now because these things are

[00:06:29] That's a great jumping off point when you mentioned I think I just kinda got stuck in my head when you were like yeah Some people they need to consider between foreign or domestic And I have a funny cute little story I think we went to New York when we lived in Virginia and I remember we were on a subway and it was early in the morning So there weren't too many people there but Mikey had he sat down beside the And she had her earbuds in she was typical New York Dawn't bug me I'm trying to get where I'm trying to get Dawn't bother me kind of a thing Right So he sits down there beside her and he looks up at her and he's like Hey do you want to talk And she's like what And she pulls her head headphones out and he goes do you want to talk She was like shirt And I'm like Okay All right Cause at first I was like buddy Dawn't bug Right And then he's like what's your favorite rollercoaster And they started talking about roller coasters and for good I dunno five or 10 minutes while we're cruising on down you know the in in in the subway he's just struck up this conversation So when I was thinking about like foreign and domestic I'm like oh Italy would be great Oh no Michael would want to talk to people in Italy

[00:07:34] it You could chart teaching them little words here and there You could start feeding them Italian foods You could go to an Italian bakery in your area There's so much that you could sort of start to introduce There's a mom in my book who did exactly that for different countries just to introduce culture into their families live different colors

[00:07:55] Oh

[00:07:55] doable And I do talk about whether a lot of people are like yeah International's possible but Dawn't do it in Dawn't get on a seven hour plane ride First start with a very short plane ride or do something like wings with rings for autism where you actually sampling going through the terminal and everything to do with check-in and boarding Wait before your trip So you have that frame of right

[00:08:19] Wings for autism That's interesting

[00:08:20] Yeah that's a program There's a bunch of programs that are like that And I list them in the book that let you sample there even airlines that you can call and say Hey I'm going on a flight soon I have a child with autism Can we come down and see the airport Can you run through different things with us and I list them this all sorts of ways to introduce as you've probably Known there and Dawne yourself before you go to a hotel you want to go to a friend's house or a relative's house for the night It's not costing you anything and sample what it's like And so you'll know do I need to bring my own sheets and towels next time Do I need to bring my blankets next time Do I need to bring a familiar lamp or different things that will make the child feel like they're home Do I need to bring the toiletries from home Because they don't like the scent of different You know your child do you know what to bring but you'll it'll really hit home When you do something like that you try little by little you go to a local zoo or a an aquarium and you label that as the So you can start the child going on Something like a tour even a trip to a garage sale can be you know a scavenger hunt It's all the way you label it And then you can Hey we're going on a tour when you actually do go and say remember when we did that back at home and you did such and such and it becomes more familiar for the child and more predictable

[00:09:36] So I guess you've got in the book that you talk about or you write about starting small and it sounds like these are the things that you're referring to is just really how you can rephrase something to get yourself mindset

[00:09:47] Yeah

[00:09:47] That is really cool

[00:09:48] it familiar and people Dawn't realize what's in their own backyard You know if you want to start sampling restaurants go to a restaurant locally For during like right after between lunch and dinner maybe when it's really quiet and introduce the child to that when this is going to be less of a wait and I have a whole chapter on how to handle restaurants And also the fact that when you're traveling you'd probably want to have a hotel with a kitchenette or you want to stay in a vacation rental and I give a whole checklist of how you're going to evaluate a vacation rental also how you're going to evaluate a camp

[00:10:25] Might want to dig into that one here in just a second

[00:10:29] Yeah So what mindset will yield the greatest success for a trip with those on the spectrum

[00:10:34] Great question child centric as you probably know yourself you have to decide that the child is the most important part of this trip You had your chance to travel with The four children and you'll have a chance to

[00:10:46] No we didn't No we didn't

[00:10:47] a lot of people I did spent most of my traveling before I had kids Thank God You'll have time to travel later when they're grown too this is their time And if you build a trip around the child it's going to be a lot easier not only in the preparation that a lot of spectrum have a specific prescribed That are you're shaking your head like they want to talk about it all the time I it sounds like yours might be

[00:11:14] And whether

[00:11:16] so okay So there you go You there are museums that cater to those interests and there are activities that cater to those interests and I have broken them down by if you happen to be going even on a business trip to one of those cities and your kid loves mustard there's a mustard museum I try to pick a lot of obscure museums as well as a lot of common interests like trolley cars and trains and automobiles and a construction There were like rocks Book a trip would they includes a trip to a quarry and I included information on that I'm sure that there are many interests that I missed and this is where you the audience can write to me and tell me what I should put in on my blog to follow up

[00:11:57] All right I'm trying to peel this back just a little bit There's I mean you definitely have a background in the travel industry what gives you the passion to to want to have kids on the spectrum Well parents with kids on the spectrum that wants to travel what got you started to even do this

[00:12:14] I let's just say that I had children that were anxious and inflexible I Dawn't really talk about my children because they were adults now And it's not for me to talk about diagnoses of or lack of same but I saw that there was a need I'm also a realtor And as a realtor everybody I ran into had a child the spectrum and you know I grew up parents owned a big travel agency as you said earlier in in Manhattan And I worked from for them for 10 years And then later another 10 years in between I was writing for travel magazines and travel was in my life And I write this in the preface that to have a child that did not travel easily would it was very difficult for me because I did not want to give up So we found ways to travel And even though I didn't have the benefit of this book I wish I had because I would have Dawne things a lot differently my children became easier as they got older and actually I feel now they adore travel Thank goodness Cause I think you learn about the world and you become a global citizen through travel

[00:13:16] No doubt

[00:13:17] So that's what gave me the passion Also when you if you're a writer and you see a book that hasn't been It's very nice to know competition

[00:13:26] that's true Very true

[00:13:28] and mercenary me

[00:13:32] Yep

[00:13:32] Well I was going to say maybe you know what maybe we'll come out with our own book about like hot air balloon travel for children on the spectrum Was this really niche down

[00:13:41] That's great I didn't even include it I'm going to interview you for a backup because I have not I didn't include anything like that I did include therapeutic sports such as adaptive skiing and scuba diving and golf which have been proven therapeutic so I do have information on

[00:13:58] You know that's that actually a good I dunno we've been thinking a good bit about Mike Mikey and his like our desire for him to be involved in sport as well because of the structure that's involved there but trying to find the right sport for him has been very much I have a background in Brazilian jujitsu and we've played golf together and you know I grew up playing basketball and things like this you know he's got a pretty decent golf swing but he's also really good at bowling and we're thinking or the individual sports for him So when you bring up like Adaptive environments I was just immediately thinking about oh golf trip you know and just making it a destination and being that same thing So that's a that's another thing I think I wasn't really thinking about travel yesterday or even this morning but when hopefully it's starting to spawn some ideas for our audience here to when they think of the uniqueness of their own kids

[00:14:45] school's about to get out

[00:14:46] I was going to say

[00:14:47] summer's come in we're going to have more time to travel with our kids And this is one of my interests I love to travel So I'm kind of the one that that gets us out of the house and plans the excursions and all that kind of stuff

[00:15:00] So then on that with her Heather loves outdoors what are some practical things that pop to your mind when it comes to being prepared to do Utah national park trip with your

[00:15:11] well there are national park passes that give discounts or freebies for those who are on the spectrum So that's important I've got information of that in the book I have information on camping I Dawn't specifically talk about You know specific areas like Utah for camping but I do talk about the fact that you may want to choose between an RV a cabin and attend the beautiful part of an RV is that specifically drive to a hotel

[00:15:39] True

[00:15:39] it up you Dawn't realize when you say a camp trip all the smells that are involved and all the sounds that are involved that might not work with your child So I do include a checklist and things to consider there and the parents I interviewed a lot of them really loved the outdoors They talked about Alaska cruises and how that really worked for their child Anything that got the child outside there's also a group called wilderness inquiry which has nature trips and outdoors trips for people of all abilities and group trips which is sort of unusual for people on the spectrum to have group tours the CA is usually Put together individual tours but some of them do organize groups There's more it's more prevalent to have cruise groups like autism on the seas does group cruises for people on the So I discuss all that but yeah nature trips are very public

[00:16:34] That is really cool man I had a couple of different questions really that spawned up at the first thing that really I'm starting to pick up on a pattern here You've mentioned smells and luckily like Mike he's got an acute sense of smell but he doesn't have anything where it's like I'm not going to go in there kind of a thing So you've mentioned it a couple of times now what are some tips around I guess just making smell in an unfamiliar area be less of a concern when

[00:16:59] You know I have less information on that Then the visual stimuli like always bringing along sunglasses especially at theme parks and Always bringing along noise canceling headphones I guess that with smells you're just going to move out of the area that's the smell No one really spoke to me about that I know that there were people who said bring your own toiletries because they are used to that I would imagine that if you and also bring a fan or make sure you have turned the air conditioning on in the room if you can To block out noises from the outside like the hallway Although if you rent a vacation rental you're the only ones there So a lot of care of but that's you know you got me

[00:17:43] Oh no it wasn't trying to stump you I just was like I've picked up on a pattern

[00:17:46] about smells

[00:17:47] And I'm like that is so so interesting because it's not something that we encounter and I was immediately just kind of stuck on it there with let's talk about that a little bit So if you're in the audience and you're dealing with you know sensitivity or anxiety if you just if you have a kiddo that is dealing with smell is one of these things that Or an accommodation that you need to deal with We'd love to hear about that I'd love to actually interview you if you're listening and want to take part

[00:18:11] I just thought

[00:18:12] me to write to me and let me know what you're doing Cause I'll put it on the blog that backs up the book I would say that I suppose if you use a special scent at home Like you're saying an essential oil or you know if you have for breeze or whatever you use that you might want to bring it on your trip with you and smell spray it in the room

[00:18:29] It's a good idea I just I thought I'm like oh well I've got a trip going to new Orleans here real soon And I'm pretty sure there's some smells there that would offend people So whether they're on the spectrum or not I was just like yeah you know what actually maybe I need to bring a candle or something So that's really cool Well I love that There's a question I've got for you because I think it's interesting that when anybody does something I guess adventurous and usually I use this kind of in my work relationships when I inquire and curious but I like it in this context too because you went about writing a book Not many people do that but I'm sure some things surprised you or you realize some stuff about that What were those interesting surprises that or were there any interesting surprises

[00:19:10] Yeah Number one Interesting surprise was that the tips that you use for special needs children can help travel for any child even neuro-diverse And the I mean neuro-typical because when you take any child out of their comfort zone they get anxious and inflexible which is why I named the title of the book the way I did really any anything you Anything you can do to prepare the child in advance whether it's showing them videos of your destination or even the rides you're going to take it through amusement park the hotel anything that you can compare them with will help reading from there about their favorite characters from books that you know that are out there for kids can help really People Dawn't you're How do I prepare the child What toys did they going to miss When we travel Should we ship them ahead What how are they going to react to different stimuli You know if you have a child that and you're going to the beach you may want to go to a craft store and get a bag of sand and put it on some tarp at home and have them walk on it If you if you live in say Florida and you're going to Alaska you might want to have your child start wearing clothes in layers because they may have never Dawne that before And this is not the time to start to try it on an expensive So little things like that tips that I got like that were and I didn't expect them I mean I Dawn't know if you know who Tony Atwood is but he's pretty famous in the autism world so leading lecturer and professor and he said and this is years back He said you know sometimes the hotel room is too crazy for them Let them sleep in the closet If they You know put their bedding in the closets So they have a private place and that's especially good when you have like a small hotel room and not a suite or like one of you know two rooms or whatever you know you want the child to have their own place where they can decompress And I always thought that was an amazing

[00:21:08] So what I'm going to key in on what you said there was that the things you've learned were they're transferable Neuro-typical children as well And I think there's a lot of like we've got three kids and I would say that even grace and joy exhibit certain characteristics that you would call on the spectrum anyway although they're not anywhere near as severe as Mikey when you started off at the beginning you know all kids are unique And we certainly have had to learn that as well And just really the molding of Well basically I guess the punchline is everything that we've had to do that has been a part of travel or part of our fund has been shaped specifically with those three mentalities and minds and personalities in mind So we're just lucky that they all three at least like rollercoasters

[00:21:57] Yeah

[00:21:57] You were child centric which is probably why your travel worked and why they grew to light travel

[00:22:04] Yeah they missed the bus right now So the big RV they actually are itching to get back in there and get out and have some more adventures So that's really cool awesome

[00:22:11] One of my favorite things to do with them is to go to children's museums When we go visit a different city is all look for children's museums aquariums and things like that

[00:22:22] Yep And I I list how to find those I list many of them that are autism friendly and I also list a place where you can find hundreds more that I did not list because I had limited space even in 344 pages I had limited space

[00:22:38] And I like what you said about preparing the

[00:22:40] child

[00:22:41] and predictability because Mikey that's totally Mikey If I take him somewhere sorry the dog's barking

[00:22:50] That's all right I've got my own

[00:22:51] if I take him somewhere he likes to know what to expect even if it's a child centric place Like he wants to know like if I take him somewhere that's new that he's never been to before it takes them a while to To feel comfortable being at that place because he's overwhelmed with all of the unknown And there was I there was this one time when we took him to the Georgia aquarium you walk in and the whole row the whole aquarium is blue From the moment you walk in the whole room is blue and there's like lights that make it look like you're underwater And there's interesting stuff And he'd walked around in there with his hands over his ears and looking around And he was so uncomfortable but I was you know I was there with him and like three other kids and we had to get right to the dolphin show Cause that was on the itinerary And I was just dragging him along with me Come on we got to get to that dolphin show and we sat down to the dolphin show and I let him buy this like light up toy And I thought he'd be all excited And it's it was a 30 minutes into the dolphin show before he finally realized okay we're going to have fun today And he was just uncomfortable you know moaning crying just

[00:24:05] long ago was that How long ago was that

[00:24:08] was when Mikey was about five years So it

[00:24:13] about six years ago

[00:24:14] Because interestingly enough that you mentioned the Georgia aquarium is that now they're a certified autism center So they've had training in how to handle anything the needs of anyone on the spectrum So I wonder if you go back if you would have the same you may not have the same the same experience losing my words there

[00:24:36] No that's okay But it just brought me back to the whole preparation aspect Just preparing him for what to expect Cause that was one of the aha moments I had when we left the Georgia aquarium is I was like I'm bringing him to an aquarium where he's supposed to have fun Like what did I do wrong And it wasn't about that It was that There was so much stimulation and he didn't know what to expect So then from then on out like when we would go to like a new amusement park we would go on the website and we would look at pictures we would download the app on my phone and you know look at all that kind of

[00:25:11] If they had a map it was helpful too Cause we could kind of put ourselves in it or we get YouTube videos for walkthrough tours and stuff like that So I remember you know what really keyed us into that was watching another YouTuber that was talking about how they got into roller coasters And then when we were turned into the like oh yeah you know what watching the roller coasters gets them in the mindset of what to expect And yeah so that was really that was really helpful So I think that's a tip that I think we've shared before is like if there's any way that you can get them to pre-experience it's super duper

[00:25:42] And that's what's so wonderful about technology now Not only do you have the the videos that you can bring along with you to keep them busy during airline flights and bus trips and everything else but you can preview everything for

[00:25:56] I think it's great I think that's great

[00:26:00] What are some suggestions for destinations for those kids that are anxious and flexible Like what would you reckon

[00:26:06] I have so many there's entire cities that are dedicated to being a certified autism centers If you can believe at Mesa Arizona

[00:26:16] Mesa

[00:26:17] Mesa is a suicide city and Myrtle beach in South Carolina And also the Salia California These are all cities that the tourist board has gone out of their way to get as many suppliers as possible

[00:26:32] Oh wow

[00:26:33] So there's that but also there are resorts I list many of them but for example the beaches resorts are advanced certified autism centers They've gone above and beyond to get trained that is a place that you might look into a lot of the theme parks like Sesame the Lego land I believe are either autism friendly or certified and What I also list is cities like Philadelphia which themselves are not autism centers They have so many attractions that are autism friendly or certified That if you can find a hotel that'll work for you or a vacation rental you could really spend your days doing activities that will have the sensory the places to decompress the lower lights the special amenities that people on the

[00:27:25] I'm about to we need to end this so I can get on the beaches website so I can start booking a spot for us to go to because that sounds fantastic But

[00:27:32] it

[00:27:32] So before we go how to how can our listeners get their

[00:27:34] The book is available on all major retailers So Amazon Barnes and noble books a million all the indie If you Google Traveling different And my name Dawn and Barkley you'll find all those places It's also available on the Roman and Littlefield website and I have a page on my website which is traveling different.com one L for traveling traveling different.com which shows you a lot of the places where you can order it as well as a section that will update the book based on

[00:28:06] Oh that's awesome

[00:28:07] That is

[00:28:07] because things change all the time which left me crazy because I like to be as precise as possible And suddenly everything was changing It's how will people know that you have to have a blog So yeah So that's how they can do it And if they would like to write to me and tell me their experiences or anything that they've found that's different or a new place that certified that I left out or just let me know that I helped them the world for them a little That would be wonderful I'd love to hear

[00:28:33] Well that's it I Dawn't want to I Dawn't want to add more on top of this I'm excited I can tell how there's excited I'm pretty sure that all the listeners are excited right now and want to just kind of get into it So I just want to thank you for your time today Dawn I think this is an awesome resource It would have definitely been something that we would have jumped on to probably years ago If you're right If it were available it would have been something we would have jumped up

[00:28:56] Yeah I just want to add that the book comes out August 15th but it is available for pre-order both in the hardcover and the audio book versions The ebook won't be out until the 15th of August but the other versions you can pre-order now and also ask your local library to get

[00:29:13] please Great idea Well cool Well thank you very much We enjoyed this time I'm glad we were able to both get our dogs somehow involved and it was so cool Well thank you so much

[00:29:29] Thank you I really appreciate being

[00:29:31] Thank you Dawn

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