This Company Sends Teens and Adults With Disabilities on the Vacations of Their Dreams

In 1982, while providing foster care for Trent, a young man with cerebral palsy (CP), Jim Peterson realized there were little travel opportunities for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. It was difficult, Peterson saw, for someone with CP to plan an affordable trip that would accommodate special needs. He dreamed of an organization that would help people with disabilities go on vacations.

Then, he made it happen.

In 1991, after earning a master’s degree in special education and working as director of residential programs for adults with developmental disabilities, Peterson founded Trips Inc. Special Adventures, a company that plans group vacations for people (ages 16 and up) with disabilities.


DC 0607 933

DL 2-09 193 At first glance, Trips Inc., seems like Make-A-Wish for adults — but it’s not. Really, it’s a travel agency designed specifically for people with disabilities. Participants pay for their own trip package (averaging about $2,700/trip). And they don’t travel with their families. Trips Inc. then plans the entire vacation — from transportation to food to daily itineraries. It also sends trained supervision on the trip — counselors, care providers, teachers and special needs volunteers who help travelers with medication, money handling and any special needs they may have.

Leslie Peterson, executive director at Trips Inc., estimates that the company organizes about 30 group trips each year to locations all over the world — they’ve gone to shows in Las Vegas and beaches in Mexico, on city excursions, cruises and dude ranch adventures. They’ve, of course, gone to Disney World.


For many participants, this is the first time they’ve traveled alone — it’s an adjustment for both them and the families they leave behind. But it’s a lesson in independence, Peterson says.

“Many of our travelers have jobs already,” she told The Mighty. “When they have this possibility of a vacation, now they have a reason to save up. They learn to redirect their money toward the trip’s cost.”

More important, Peterson says, is the experience itself. Participants make new friends, see new sites and learn what it’s like to be on their own. Her favorite trip to watch travelers go on is Trip Inc.’s dude ranch vacation.

“I think many times people with disabilities are used to having someone be in control of them,” Peterson explained. “At the ranch, when they get on a horse, suddenly they’re the ones in control. It’s wonderful to watch them feel the independence.”

DR 5-07 228

Take a look at photographs from other Trip Inc. excursions below. If you’re interested in booking a trip, head here.





Travel Mighty. Like us on Facebook.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Dear Special Needs Mother in the Grocery Store, I Have a Question

I think we squash children’s genuine curiosity about differences by telling them we are all the same. I don’t think it’s just my children who regularly see the differences – in their shoes from another’s, in their skin from another’s, in their eye color from another’s. They say it in passing, like you or I [...]

A Life With Multiple Sclerosis Is Not a Death Sentence: 6 Myths About MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a part of life for over 400,000 people in the United States, with an average of 200 new diagnoses each week. There is much about MS that we still don’t understand, such as the root cause of the disease, however, those that have been diagnosed with MS are finding new tools for coping [...]

I Laugh at My Kid (and You Can Too)

I laugh at my son. Often. I like to think that most people laugh at their kids (you do, right?) so that makes me pretty normal. Kids are hilarious. They say weird stuff, are embarrassingly easy to trick (*cough* Santa), and generally act the fool. In the animal kingdom, baby humans take the cake for comedy. So we laugh at [...]

Custom-Made Shoes Help Kids Trek Through Life’s Most Difficult Journeys

A child walks into a hospital for his first day of chemotherapy. Another has already been in that hospital for weeks, receiving treatment after treatment for her rare illness. In a different wing, a teen is relearning how to walk after an accident. They’re all on different, difficult journeys they had no choice in embarking on. [...]