Three Ways to Save $ On Outings This Summer!

The cost of an outing can be a prohibitive factor for many people and oftentimes, even more so for a family with a child who has a diagnosis or special needs of any kind. When so much is invested in therapies, schooling, medical supplies, and specialist appointments, finding room in the budget for a fun adventure can be difficult. It can also be emotional to put aside whatever amount and make the journey to visit an attraction, only to have to leave early or miss out on what’s offered because it may prove too difficult for a child who struggles with sensory challenges or requires accessibility that may not always be available. The rest of my posts for this series will highlight different locations we’ve visited and a comprehensive review of each, to help better establish whether it’s a good fit for you and to hopefully inspire you to find similar ideas in your hometowns!

Back to today’s topic – the cost of an outing can vary greatly from just having to pay for parking, to individual tickets or tokens for certain aspects, to each participant needing a pass. I do my best to research and ascertain the total cost beforehand. I have three tips to share with you today that have proven so successful for our family and have made all the difference in the different experiences we’ve been able to provide for the kids!

If you’re Canadian and haven’t heard about Access 2, I highly recommend checking out their site! We have been enrolled in their program for about 5 years now and just renewed our membership. The card is available to anyone of any age and any type of permanent disability who requires a support person to take part in an outing. Essentially, when going to pay the card holder pays their fee, while the support person receives a free or discounted admission. This has allowed us to visit places that would otherwise have been outside of our budget, since M or I will have our fee waived to support Y, thereby bringing down the total cost for our family. The card is accepted in so many popular places, from Ripley’s Aquarium to movie theaters, AGO, CN Tower, Science Centre, Legoland, Wonderland, the zoo and so much more! It costs $20 for a 3-year membership or $30 for a 5-year membership. We currently hold a 5-year membership, and it’s been absolutely worth it!

The second piece of advice that has been so helpful has been to actually call locations or speak to a customer service person on site. Oftentimes, if the attraction is not included in the Access 2 catalogue, they will have their own pricing. You may have to show proof of diagnosis, but we have found that many locations privately offer special pricing for attendees with disabilities or for their caregiver/ support person. This has helped us with the cost of admission at smaller outings, such as farms, zoos, pop up events and more! If you’re comfortable approaching the ticket agent at the location, it’s worthwhile, however if you’re going to email or phone, make sure you get the complete details and ask for a summary to be emailed to you afterwards.

Finally, I definitely suggest registering with your local chapter! We signed up with Autism Ontario and not only are we provided with so many support and educational/ learning opportunities, we also are given the opportunity to register or enter the lottery for specific autism-friendly events! We’ve been fortunate enough to attend the event they hosted at Ripley’s Aquarium as well as their Canada’s Wonderland day! These events have been so sensitive to our family’s dynamic and included siblings as well! I’ll never forget leaving the aquarium and hearing N thank Y and tell him how cool it was that because of his brother he got to go to this and how special it was! It’s also so amazing to be at a public attraction surrounded by families who look like ours and who understand! Check out if your province/ state or city has a local chapter you can register with and what type of opportunities they provide!

I hope that you’ll find these tips helpful and that they’ll make a difference to your summer plans and outings! If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help answer or direct you to someone who can! In my following posts, I’ll be sure to state what the cost was at each outing and if there were any programs to assist with it!

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