Flynn’s travel blog - Everybody deserves a holiday
This month we catch up with Queensland mum Jenni, and her autistic son Flynn about his new blog Everybody Deserves a Holiday.
Q1. Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and Flynn?
Hi, we are from Cairns, Queensland. In our family there is myself, Jenni, my husband, Frazer, Flynn and his siblings, Patrick who is 16, Tess who is 12, and our family dog, Plugger.
Flynn was born extremely premature, at 23 weeks. He and his twin brother, Jack, were only given about a 10-15% chance or survival at birth. Luckily Flynn made it through, but sadly his brother Jack passed away when he was 10 days old. Flynn spent the first 112 days of his life in hospital and came home to us on his due date. Since then, Flynn has faced many challenges over the years but has always displayed the greatest determination and resilience which has helped him immensely.
Flynn is now 19 years old and has recently finished school. He now spends his weeks doing volunteer work/work experience, working in a disability cafe and participating in a job skill training program. He is supported by his lovely support workers, with the aim to build up many skills. His dream is to work in a hospital one day. Flynn is very friendly and happy and loves to meet people and learn new things. He loves to write and finds this a much easier way to communicate than verbal communication.
Q2. How did Flynn's travel blog start?
Flynn has travelled a lot in the past for medical treatment, as he had stem cell treatment in both China and Bangkok when he was younger, and for many family holidays, both overseas in China, Thailand and Singapore and to our favourite family destination, the Gold Coast. He has always loved travelling and even when we weren't planning a trip, would spend his free time googling holiday destinations, accommodation and tourist attractions. He especially loves to know where his friends and family go to stay and likes to look up their accommodation online to see what it is like. Due to this great passion and interest we decided to start a travel blog looking at travel from his perspective as a person with an invisible disability.
Q3. What has been Flynn's favourite travel destination and why?
Flynn absolutely loves going on holidays to The Gold Coast as he loves to visit the beach, the theme parks, restaurants and shops, and as far as overseas destinations he thinks Singapore is one of his favourites. It is very modern, safe and clean and has wonderful tourist attractions to visit such as The Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer, the Cable Car, the Singapore Zoo, the River Cruise and Universal Studios. We were lucky enough to win a few nights at the Shangri-La Singapore, which was incredibly luxurious!
Q4. What are your aspirations for Flynn's blog? What’s next?
Flynn hopes his blog will inspire other people with autism and other disabilities to get out and travel. He hopes it will inspire others to see how much fun it can be to travel to new places and try new things, even though it can be scary at first and may require a lot of support. Flynn hopes to continue to visit and write about many local destinations, as well as to travel to other parts of Australia and around the world. He hopes to try various holidays, such as train travel, cruising, glamping, safaris and some group tours.
Q5. What has been the most rewarding aspect of Everybody Deserves a Holiday?
So far it has been a huge learning curve for Flynn to start his blog. Setting it up has required a lot of help and he is learning new things all the time. Luckily we have had some lovely family members and friends to help us out. Flynn has loved reading people's feedback about his blog entries and the fact that there has been a lot of interest from various local media, tourist organisations and disability support networks. He is feeling very proud of himself!
Q6. How do you think travelling can be improved for autistic people and families?
A lot can be done to improve travelling for autistic people and their families. Most importantly If people are patient and helpful, new situations can be navigated more easily. Various communication devices can be used, as well as apps to communicate and order things. If people can allow more time to explain things, such as upon check in or when buying a ticket, etc it would help a lot. We have also found the use of maps, signs and visuals is a big help. It is great when places allow a companion to go along for free to assist the person with a disability, as that support is crucial. We were recently very appreciative of the major theme parks at the Gold Coast who now have wristbands and cards available to allow those who need it to have faster access to rides, etc so that wait times are minimal, which is a big help.
Q7. What destination is Flynn reviewing and writing about next?
Flynn is keen to visit many of the wonderful tourist attractions we have close by to us in Cairns, like Paronella Park and Mamu Skywalk, Fitzroy Island, the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, as well as Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, the Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas and Birdworld and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda to name but a few! We are very lucky to have such wonderful tourist attractions close by and Flynn is keen to visit them all and write about them over the coming year or two. He is also very keen to try out some of the other wonderful accommodation we have in Cairns, with a stay at the Cairns Hilton, Novotel Cairns Oasis resort, Pullman Cairns International and the Shangri-La, Cairns Marina as well as many others! High on the list is also a train journey in a sleeper carriage some time in the near future! At the end of the year we hope to visit the Gold Coast again and Flynn wants to stay at Sea World resort for a few nights and write about that too.