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Learn About the Autism Travel Card

  By  Rebecca Jeffreys
Myrtle Beach aerial of coastline with SkyWheel

There are so many special reasons to visit The Grand Strand with a child who has autism. One of the area's most popular resources is the Autism Travel Card (formally called the CAN card) which gives discounts at local businesses and autism friendly events. Now, with great celebration and cheers, we are pleased to announce that Champion Autism Network (CAN) has grown even bigger and is now recognized nationally as the Autism Travel Club! 

Becky Large, founder of Champion Autism Network, has a big goal and that is to make travel accessible to everyone! CAN is now in its 7th year and flourishing all along the Grand Strand. Originally, CAN offered its CAN Card to locals and visitors to help inform businesses that a person with autism was on site and might need special accommodations. With that same concept in mind, the CAN card has been reborn as the Autism Travel Club (ATC) which can be used here and nationally. I took a few minutes with Becky Large to find out more.

1. How did the Autism Travel Club come into being? What was the inspiration?  

The Autism Travel Club is the result of rebranding the CAN Card program.  CAN Card means little outside of the Grand Strand.  Our goal is to be recognized as the AAA card of Autism Travel.  When you say CAN card, it means little, but when you see or say the Autism Travel Club it speaks right to it.

2. How can the travel club be used around the country?

Champion Autism Network has a plan to increase the number of Autism Ready businesses through purposeful partnerships with Miles Partnership and their clients and prospects as well as an Ambassador program for other autism organizations and supporters to have the program in their communities.

3. Can the new Autism Travel Club still be used in Myrtle Beach?

Yes! And your original CAN card is still valid too.

4. What is your hope for families who use the card?

The first hope is that they have a great experience when visiting ATC Autism Ready businesses.  All of the ATC business have been vetted and trained to help families with autism. Checking in at the businesses and leaving reviews would be wildly helpful to everyone. 

5. What is your long term dream for the travel club? 

My hope is that it is recognized and used around the world.

Once the ATC is fully functioning, families can create their own travel profile which will provide a list of suggested destinations and businesses based on their travel preferences. In the near future, businesses will be able to change their online listing, upload pictures and provide specials and offers to member families so it will be worthwhile to check the website often for the latest deals. 

Some sample businesses in the Grand Strand who participate are Ripley’s Aquarium, EdVenture, Big Air Trampoline Park, The Sky Wheel, Grand 14 Movie Theater, many resorts and numerous restaurants. All are listed on the CAN website including business outside of the Grand Strand.

Visit the website to get your ATC Card. It costs $7 for new families. Businesses who are also interested in being a part of the program can sign up here and learn more about the training available for their staff.

Also be sure to visit the Champion Autism Network's website for a current listing of special events along the Grand Strand. 

The Grand Strand is so proud to be able to offer travel services locally and now to the broader population. Traveling with autism has never been easier or more inclusive. I’d love to hear where you traveled and how your experience was. Happy travels!

Rebecca Jeffreys

Rebecca Jeffreys is an autism mom, dog lover and former classical musician. She is the author of “You Were Made for This- Finding Courage and Intuition for Raising a Child with Autism.” In addition to writing, Rebecca is on the staff of Champion Autism Network which raises autism awareness and support around the nation. Rebecca has lived in Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Massachusetts, but the south won her heart and so she settled in Myrtle Beach in 2021. She and her family enjoy the beach life and visit local restaurants on a regular basis.