How Planning an Overnight Trip Is Different for Me as a Disabled Teen


A few months ago, I went on an overnight trip with my school. It didn’t go very well, but for some reason, I’m going on another overnight trip in about a week. This one won’t be the same as my last trip since we won’t be going to an amusement park (I learned my lesson about amusement park trips, believe me). We’ll be walking around Savannah, Georgia doing a giant scavenger-hunt-like activity called QuestFest, then performing at a concert. Instead of going with my school’s chorus, I’m going with Girl Scout Chorus.

Hopefully, since I’ve explained my disability and needs in extreme (and I mean extreme) detail, this will go a bit better than the last one (fingers crossed). This got me thinking about the differences between how an able-bodied teenager and a disabled teenager may think and feel when it comes to getting ready for an overnight trip. Here’s an example of how it may be for some:

Rooming List

Able-bodied teen worries about: Not being roomed with their friends

Disabled teen worries about: Not being roomed with someone who knows about their disability

Medical Forms

Able-bodied teen thinks: “Ugh, why are there so many forms?”

Disabled teen thinks: “Would [insert medical condition] count as a disability? A chronic condition? Both? Should I mark down ibuprofen as a medication? Would I need a prescription? Doctors’ note? Both? When do I need to give the ibuprofen to the adults? Why can’t I just carry my dang ibuprofen myself?

Packing List

Able-bodied teen prioritizes: Make-up, cellphone, cellphone charger, battery, camera, snacks, cute shoes

Disabled teen prioritizes: Meds, doctors’ note, prescription, water bottle, that one pair of sandals they can actually walk in

Train Ride

Able-bodied teen mentally prepares for: Being on a train for hours on end

Disabled teen mentally prepares for: Having their head jerked around for hours on end because they can’t hold their head up

Packing a Swimsuit

Able-bodied teen freaks out about: Looking fat

Disabled teen freaks out about: People thinking they’re fat, then people thinking that their disability is caused by them being fat, then people thinking they’re making up their disability so they have an excuse for being fat, then…

Looking At the Group List

Able-bodied teen thinks: “Yay, my friends are in my group!”

Disabled teen thinks: “Yay, the adult who will be in charge of my meds is in my group!”

Looking At the Itinerary

Able-bodied teen says: “We’ll be walking a lot? Yay, I can get in some exercise!”

Disabled teen says: “We’ll be walking a lot?” (internally sobs)

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Thinkstock photo by Seb Ra.

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