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Travel domestic or international with our 3 yrs old?

Travel domestic or international with our 3 yrs old?

Old Sep 8, 16, 12:44 am
  #1  
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Travel domestic or international with our 3 yrs old?

Two of us have been to Asia with our then 2 yrs old for about a month. We are a budget traveler and just like to take trip once a year during the winter season and eat at local restaurants or stalls. Caring for him wasn't too hard because we took a suitcase full of baby food like earth's best that can be eaten right out of the jar or the pouches.

Our son now is 3 yrs old but he can walk and he is playful but autistic child.

We thought about Asia once again but not sure if we can manage it. He has to eat regular healthy food that should be cooked and no longer do we give him any packaged baby food. Unless I order meals at the hotel or eat at fancy restaurant which we can't afford anyway, I think food will be one of the main problem for our child. You know at home, we always cook fresh healthy meals for him that he can eat and likes.

So my option this year is a domestic trip within US? Maybe stay at a hotel that has kitchen? We haven't been to Hawaii or Disney. Is that a good option? We would like to travel for about at least several days to 2 weeks. Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old Sep 8, 16, 11:22 am
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I think you can still travel internationally given your dietary restrictions. When we travel with our two kids (ages 2, 4) food is always difficult, just because internationally its harder to find foods that they are familiar with and will eat. We eat healthy at home and as much as possible when traveling, but I'm not one to cancel a trip just because we'll need to eat out at a fast food place once or twice.

My suggestion would be to stay at American brand hotels that offer some sort of club lounge (i.e. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Sheraton). These hotels, especially in Asia, often have a great variety of quality Western and local cuisine. These club level rooms can be had from free (via credit cards or status) to $200 a night for the Ritz Carlton club level upgrades.

If you want to be in complete control of what you're eating, then look into airbnb, vrbo, or timeshare properties, which are plentiful in most typical vacation destinations. I don't see any reason why you'd need to limit yourself to the US, I think you'd be fine in most of the western world finding foods that you are both familiar with and are healthy.
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Old Sep 8, 16, 12:17 pm
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With a child on the spectrum, you might want to consider avoiding hotels in favor of a place with more space and definitely something more kid friendly.

We discovered bungalow parks in Europe when my kid was 2. He's not on the spectrum, but has an incredibly specialized diet due to medical issues and allergies. Our favorite is Duinrell, south of Amsterdam. For far less than a hotel we get a 2 bedroom bungalow with kitchen, and on the property are several playgrounds, an amusement park (low key, old fashioned, not roller coasters) and an indoor water park. Every time we go, my kid wants to spend most of his time in the water park.

In general the Netherlands are very healthy food conscious, so even with my kid's very complex diet we have no trouble shopping for him or dining out in that area.

And if you want sight-seeing, that part of the Randstad has amazing museums and historical sites.


p.s. I would strongly caution against Disney for a kid on the spectrum. Sensory overload, difficulty with meals, extremely high prices
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Old Sep 8, 16, 12:35 pm
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You could explore home exchange - especially if you live in a sought after area of the country.

Rentals in parts of Asia can also be very cheap and you can typically get a housekeeper/cook for very little extra. In your case basing yourself in one place and doing side-trips would work best I think?
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Old Sep 8, 16, 2:00 pm
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I have a 3 year old and in my opinion he's too young to really enjoy a Disney park. I mean, if we were near one of them anyway I'd probably take him for just a day, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to take him to one. My friends who've taken their families to Disney parks have told me that their preschool aged kids didn't get all that much out of it... seems to be that 5 is the magic age for really enjoying Disney parks.

On the other hand, Hawaii would be a great idea. Maui is a very laid back destination, I bet he'd love the beaches and other natural attractions of the area. You can rent condos for relatively inexpensive prices and then you have a kitchen in which to prepare meals for your son. My son was 1.5 when we took him to Maui and he loved it... it was a fairly easy trip to do with him. By contrast, taking him to HKG right after he turned 2 was much harder!
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Old Sep 8, 16, 2:19 pm
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Originally Posted by heraclitus View Post
I have a 3 year old and in my opinion he's too young to really enjoy a Disney park. I mean, if we were near one of them anyway I'd probably take him for just a day, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to take him to one. My friends who've taken their families to Disney parks have told me that their preschool aged kids didn't get all that much out of it... seems to be that 5 is the magic age for really enjoying Disney parks.

On the other hand, Hawaii would be a great idea. Maui is a very laid back destination, I bet he'd love the beaches and other natural attractions of the area. You can rent condos for relatively inexpensive prices and then you have a kitchen in which to prepare meals for your son. My son was 1.5 when we took him to Maui and he loved it... it was a fairly easy trip to do with him. By contrast, taking him to HKG right after he turned 2 was much harder!

We've taken our 3-y-o (and his older brother) to disney a few times, and he loved it. It's a lot easier these days, with fastpasses and the Lines app on your phone, where you can avoid standing in line for crazy amounts of time. There is *plenty* to do with little kids. Mine both loved watching the parades and dancing to the music. Some spectrum kids actually like a lot of stimulation, so it would really depend on the kid. There are places to hang out that are quieter, so that may be something to look into, if the child needs occasional breaks. But the spinning and swinging rides especially might be just the thing for a kid on the spectrum. Many love that type of motion.

I would also recommend Legoland for younger kids.

That said, Asia would be great, particularly if the family has Asian heritage. We are going to Taiwan and to mainland China for 7 weeks and will be staying much of the time in Airbnb lodging. It's cheaper than a hotel with far better amenities and way more space. Many apartment buildings in Asia come equipped with indoor pools, KTV rooms, even kids' playrooms. The apartment we have booked in Taiwan has this and more -- and it's directly across the street from a park with a nice playground. Lots of grocery options for fresh food, and KFC, McD's and Pizza Hut for quick meals wen craving something more Western.
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Old Sep 8, 16, 4:17 pm
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Originally Posted by swise View Post
We've taken our 3-y-o (and his older brother) to disney a few times, and he loved it. It's a lot easier these days, with fastpasses and the Lines app on your phone, where you can avoid standing in line for crazy amounts of time. There is *plenty* to do with little kids. Mine both loved watching the parades and dancing to the music. Some spectrum kids actually like a lot of stimulation, so it would really depend on the kid. There are places to hang out that are quieter, so that may be something to look into, if the child needs occasional breaks. But the spinning and swinging rides especially might be just the thing for a kid on the spectrum. Many love that type of motion.
The OP mentioned being a budget traveler. All the Disney parks are insanely expensive, even before you add in extras like parking, fastpasses, food, etc.

Originally Posted by swise View Post
I would also recommend Legoland for younger kids.
I agree that Legoland is great for the small ones. We've been going to Legoland parks since my kid was 2 and he still enjoys them at 16. Not sure where the OP is starting from, but for general costs, I'd suggest Florida in the off season over California - greater availability of budget lodging and lower overall travel costs in Florida.
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Old Sep 9, 16, 12:19 am
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I've done plenty of travelling internationally with my kids, currently 2 and 5. My wife is a tyrant about the kids eating, and the kids are a bit picky when faced with unfamiliar foods. The solution was to find rooms that had kitchens. Last year we stayed in Da Nang, Vietnam athe the Fusion Suites. It was awesome, big rooms under $100 with kitchenettes. My wife cooked breakfast, we would go out all day and have lunch outside, and we were usually home for dinner. She would cook while I would hit a local stand and pick up a seafood feast each night for dinner for the adults. If you're concerned about lunch for your child, you could always cook a lunch or prepare a picnic.
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Old Sep 9, 16, 1:22 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
The OP mentioned being a budget traveler. All the Disney parks are insanely expensive, even before you add in extras like parking, fastpasses, food, etc.

I agree that Legoland is great for the small ones. We've been going to Legoland parks since my kid was 2 and he still enjoys them at 16. Not sure where the OP is starting from, but for general costs, I'd suggest Florida in the off season over California - greater availability of budget lodging and lower overall travel costs in Florida.
The OP also mentioned Disney as an option, so I was offering our take. Fastpasses don't cost extra. Especially in California, you wouldn't need to pay for parking, since you could get a vacation rental and walk to the park, or stay at one of the budget hotels directly across from the entrance for under $150 a night with breakfast and parking included.

On our last trip, our family of 4 stayed in a 5 bedroom house with a pool, themed rooms, full kitchen, W/D, even strollers for just over $200 nightly. It was walking distance to the park. It was a bit of a hike, but the walk was pleasant and safe, both during the day and at night. We could see the fireworks from our backyard.

Before that, we stayed at a hotel even closer (like ~5 minutes from the park entrance Only the Grand Californian Hotel was closer -- and it was only closer to California Adventure, not to Disneyland). We paid, I think, $130 nightly with parking and hot breakfast included. It was not luxurious, but you couldn't beat it for location, and it was clean and perfectly fine.

Other options:
Durango in the summertime
Narrow gauge railroad
Ride the lifts up the mountain
Nature walks

San Francisco
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Exploratorium
Chinatown
Golden Gate Park
(Can't think of the name of the museum where Rodin's Thinker is... Beautiful view of SF Bay/GG Bridge and a nice art museum that isn't too much for young children)
Fisherman's Wharf
So much more

San Diego
Aircraft Carrier
Legoland
Zoo
Beach

Florida beaches
Beach
Warm Water
Side trip to Disney or Legoland
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Old Sep 9, 16, 6:21 am
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For those who haven't looked at Disney ticket prices lately,

Disneyland (CA): $95 to $119* for a single day adult admission, depending on the date

Disney world (FL): $97 to $114* single day, single park admission

*not including tax

FWIW in May 2016 "the Florida Commission on Human Relations issued five separate rulings on May 11 that found that Disney’s theme park division failed to properly accommodate children with autism at its Orlando, Florida parks." (Link)

Originally Posted by swise View Post
Other options:

San Francisco
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Just an FYI - Monterey is 3 hours south of SF
Originally Posted by swise View Post
Exploratorium
Chinatown
Golden Gate Park
(Can't think of the name of the museum where Rodin's Thinker is... Beautiful view of SF Bay/GG Bridge and a nice art museum that isn't too much for young children)
Legion of Honor

Originally Posted by swise View Post
Fisherman's Wharf
To the SF list I would add the California Academy of Sciences and Fort Mason

San Jose, roughly 90 minutes south of SF, has 3 excellent places for kids.
Children's Discovery Museum
Happy Hollow Zoo
The Tech Museum of Innovation

My kid was also partial to the San Jose Museum of Art, but not every toddler is as into art as he was at that age.

Last edited by CDTraveler; Sep 9, 16 at 6:37 am
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Old Sep 10, 16, 2:33 pm
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Thanks to all for the helpful information. If we travel, it will be during winter like between end of Jan to end of FEB. Some here recommended Legoland for my soon to be 3 year old. I have heared the word but don't know what it actually is. I will surely google and learn. So Lego is also in Orlando FL Disneyland? It is part of the play area in Disney in FL? I think i should take him to places with fun activities and also at water parks. He loves playing with water and crazy about it. He is autistic so at times he gets scared, screams and very cautious too. I once took him to Dells in Wisconsin. He loved the little kids baby water play area. unfortunately both my wife and I are not that much in to these, she doesn't know how to swim and I can barely swim. But He enjoyed it and that's all it mattered for us. So I guess Disney in Orlando is good with fun activity and water parks there too? I am sure he is bit too young for all the fun things Disney has to offer. I am in midwest. Do we, my child I mean get fast pass at the ticket counter? I have his state ID card that says"disabled" because Autism is considered a disability. Thanks and please keep replying with suggestions and ideas and advice.

Last edited by Blueskyheaven; Sep 10, 16 at 2:42 pm
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Old Sep 10, 16, 2:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Blueskyheaven View Post
Thanks to all for the helpful information. Some here recommended LEGO for my soon to be 3 year old. I have heared the word but don't know what it actually is. I will surely google and learn. So Lego is also in Orlando FL Disneyland? It is part of the play area in Disney in FL? I think i should take him to places with fun activities and also at water parks. He loves playing with water and crazy about it. He is autistic so at times he gets scared, screams and very cautious too. I once took him to Dells in Wisconsin. He loved the little kids baby water play area. unfortunately both my wife and I are not that much in to these, she doesn't know how to swim and I can barely swim. But He enjoyed it and that's all it mattered for us. So I guess Disney in Orlando is good with fun activity and water parks there too? I am sure he is bit too young for all the fun things Disney has to offer. I am in midwest. Do we, my child I mean get fast pass at the ticket counter? I have his state ID card that says"disabled" because Autism is considered a disability. Thanks and please keep replying with suggestions and ideas and advice.
It's Lego, as in the little plastic toy blocks. There are two Legoland amusement parks in the U.S. One is just outside Tampa, FL, and the other is in Carlsbad, CA. They have no connection with Disney at all.

Legoland parks are much more low key than standard amusement parks. They really are meant for the <9 crowd. They offer a brochure called "What to Do When You're 2" which lists all the calm and gentle options for the littlest ones. Both parks have some water play areas, as in splashing around in a fountain, no swimming required. Often the favorite attraction for very young kids is MiniLand, where there are Lego replicas of famous places.

From what I've seen at Legoland parks, there are more than a few kids there on the spectrum and nobody has an issue if they get stressed and act out.

Disney Parks: 4 in Orlando, FL, 2 in Anaheim (near Los Angeles), CA. Loud, expensive, crowded and these days almost all attractions are tied to movies. In Florida Disney had separate water parks, but I know at least one of them has closed. Every park is a separate admission fee, although you can get combined tickets.

Orlando also has Universal Studios (no way would I take a toddler there), Sea World (which we all love and is very family friendly) and independent water parks, miniature golf and Gatorland (another favorite of ours).

Before you decide on a Disney park, Goggle search on "Disney" and "autism" - a few years ago Disney completely changed their way of dealing with special needs customers and they've been sued several times by autism related groups claiming the new system is not ADA compliant.

If you will be traveling after November, I suggest you get on the email list for any park you are interested in. Last year I got a "2 for 1" on Legoland annual passes and a big discount on Sea World tickets from promos in their Black Friday emails.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
It's Lego, as in the little plastic toy blocks. There are two Legoland amusement parks in the U.S. One is just outside Tampa, FL, and the other is in Carlsbad, CA. They have no connection with Disney at all.

Legoland parks are much more low key than standard amusement parks. They really are meant for the <9 crowd. They offer a brochure called "What to Do When You're 2" which lists all the calm and gentle options for the littlest ones. Both parks have some water play areas, as in splashing around in a fountain, no swimming required. Often the favorite attraction for very young kids is MiniLand, where there are Lego replicas of famous places.

From what I've seen at Legoland parks, there are more than a few kids there on the spectrum and nobody has an issue if they get stressed and act out.

Disney Parks: 4 in Orlando, FL, 2 in Anaheim (near Los Angeles), CA. Loud, expensive, crowded and these days almost all attractions are tied to movies. In Florida Disney had separate water parks, but I know at least one of them has closed. Every park is a separate admission fee, although you can get combined tickets.

Orlando also has Universal Studios (no way would I take a toddler there), Sea World (which we all love and is very family friendly) and independent water parks, miniature golf and Gatorland (another favorite of ours).

Before you decide on a Disney park, Goggle search on "Disney" and "autism" - a few years ago Disney completely changed their way of dealing with special needs customers and they've been sued several times by autism related groups claiming the new system is not ADA compliant.

If you will be traveling after November, I suggest you get on the email list for any park you are interested in. Last year I got a "2 for 1" on Legoland annual passes and a big discount on Sea World tickets from promos in their Black Friday emails.
Thanks

You think we can do Disney in Orlando and the Lego land too? We have to catch a flight from Orlando to Tampa for the Legoland? I wonder if we can do Maui for few days and FL for few days? Maybe 2 days in NYC and 3 days in Maui and 3 days in FL? I am in Chicago. We have airline miles & hotel points that we could to use for hotel and flights.
We enjoyed the aquaroum and see world in Asia. The Disney on HKG was fun not much for my child though but he liked the outdoor. I also liked the ones in Seoul.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Blueskyheaven View Post
Thanks

You think we can do Disney in Orlando and the Lego land too? We have to catch a flight from Orlando to Tampa for the Legoland? I wonder if we can do Maui for few days and FL for few days? Maybe 2 days in NYC and 3 days in Maui and 3 days in FL? I am in Chicago. We have airline miles & hotel points that we could to use for hotel and flights.
We enjoyed the aquaroum and see world in Asia. The Disney on HKG was fun not much for my child though but he liked the outdoor. I also liked the ones in Seoul.
From Orlando area to Legoland is less than 90 minutes by car, so no flight for that. It is a very do-able day trip from Orlando.

Maui and Florida are at opposite ends of the US territory - at least 11 hours flying time apart, probably closer to 20 on most routings. I would space those long flights at least a few months apart. I'm not sure if you mean 2 days in NYC, 3 days in Maui and 3 days Florida on the same trip, but that would be a horrible amount of flying time for the amount of time at each destination.

You and your child would probably enjoy a single trip of 7 days to Florida more than thousands and thousands of miles trying to see 3 widely spaced places.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
From Orlando area to Legoland is less than 90 minutes by car, so no flight for that. It is a very do-able day trip from Orlando.

Maui and Florida are at opposite ends of the US territory - at least 11 hours flying time apart, probably closer to 20 on most routings. I would space those long flights at least a few months apart. I'm not sure if you mean 2 days in NYC, 3 days in Maui and 3 days Florida on the same trip, but that would be a horrible amount of flying time for the amount of time at each destination.

You and your child would probably enjoy a single trip of 7 days to Florida more than thousands and thousands of miles trying to see 3 widely spaced places.
Is one day enough in Legoland FL or at least 2 to 3 days? Same with Disney? How is it in winter? We may go in Jan, Thanks
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