A Napa getaway can seem like a far-off luxury when mired in the world of special needs parenting. Raising any child can strain a partnership – but this is often magnified in a special needs family when finding a caregiver for your loved one can be especially challenging. We have to carve out small windows of time for ourselves as couples – maximizing time away is key.
We take advantage of days when our kids have school and we don’t have work and make mini-day trips count. Identify places you can go during a school day that feel “away” – for us, that means one of several places within 45-90 minutes from our home.
We are lucky enough to live where we can have lunch in San Francisco, walk along the beach, or go for a hike all while our kids are in school. But choose what works for you- get a Groupon for a local hotel and get couples’ massages. Pack a picnic and go to the park. See a movie. Or be a kid without your kids and hit the local amusement park, without having to worry about meltdowns in line or height limits on rides.
We also have a handful of places in the 2-hour driving range that make for great one-night mini-vacations. We have very few overnight babysitting options – namely the grandparents- but when they are in town, we try to take advantage for at least one night of “away.”
We are lucky enough to live within driving distance of this wine-and-food-mecca, so we have found a way to make a weekend trip work for us and maximize our time in wine country. What’s a Napa getaway in 36 hours look like? Here is a snapshot of a recent trip:
- 10:15 am – On the road- with a playlist of our choosing – a true luxury!
- 11:56 am – Arrive at the first winery – this time it was B Cellars – where we did a food and wine pairing – lunch and tasting in one stop.
- 2:42 pm – After a walk around quaint downtown Yountville, grab a snack at Bouchon Bakery, and enjoy at a table in the gardens of the French Laundry.
- 4:25 pm – Check into our hotel – swim/hot tub/or a poolside drink all are great options.
- 6:05 pm – We head to dinner – this time it was Acacia House – upscale American comfort food in a charming, restored old home in St Helena.
- 9:30 pm – Relax by the outdoor fire pits at the hotel before calling it a night at the Westin Verasa Napa.
- 8:32 am – Coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Model Bakery at Oxbow Public Market – yum!
- 9:47 am – In line at Bouchon Bakery (again!) to get treats for the kids, and the babysitters, and the car ride – and maybe a little something to munch on before the next winery.
- 11:07 am – Our next winery – this one is Brasswood – for another food and wine tasting. Eleven is early in wine country, so we have a private tasting, including time in an amazing sensory room. Our guide recommends a family-run olive oil company so that’s our next stop.
- 1:36 pm – After tasting a dizzying array of olive oils – and a few vinegars – at Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing. We decide on four – our favorites being a chile olive oil, that, when paired with a peach balsamic makes an incredible dressing.
- 2:03 pm – Homeward bound from our short, yet sweet getaway.
After just over a day away from home, we are content – full of wine, olive oil, pastries and the freshness of mind that comes from being away, and outside of routines. The extra sleep allowed without a little voice interrupting it doesn’t hurt either. Like so many aspects of our life, autism has redefined what a “vacation” looks like – but also made us much more resourceful in taking advantage of opportunities that we are fortunate to have right under our nose.
Too far from Napa to go for one night? Then make your own version of this Napa getaway. What’s your choice for a close-to-home mini-vacation destination? Comment below.
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4 Ways of Rethinking Travel for Your Special Needs Family via The Piece of Mind Retreat