Helpful Hints for travel

For many of us travelling has been a big part of our lives, whether our travels take us just down the road or far off lands. A diagnosis of dementia shouldn’t stop us or our loved ones from travelling, though it may require a different level of planning than in the past. You may have found that your ventures away from home have dwindled and you may be worried about whether you could still travel.

Whether you want to travel locally or further afield, we have included ideas for an emergency travel bag or e-bag designed to help you have access to the things you might need in case of an emergency and will hopefully help put you at ease to better enjoy your holiday.

Starting out with a “staycation”

The first trip doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel far. Give yourself the opportunity to experience some aspects of going on holiday, but close to home. That means if you do feel overwhelmed you can easily return home. This is what we mean by a stay-cation, by going to a local hotel or Bed & Breakfast (B&B) if you are unsure of venturing too far. If it is a success then it may give you the confidence to venture further afield next time. If it does not go to plan, you can reflect and think about why it didn’t work and try to identify things you might need to do differently when you make your next attempt.

A local B&B or a small hotel may be a good choice to start with as they are easier to navigate with fewer long corridors and identical room doors. Another advantage is that there is more likely to be consistency in the staff who work there. This will mean that you may not have to explain your situation as often and will likely receive more personal service.

Emergency travel bag (e-bag)

The following are suggestions of items that may be helpful to have in your emergency travel bag:

Top Tip: A brief description of the person with dementia would be helpful, including their diagnosis and how they are impacted by their dementia. Raise awareness of any other medical conditions they may have which may also impact on their well-being.

Building your comfort level

If you are ready to try somewhere further afield but not yet ready to tackle an extended holiday, look for a weekend bolt-hole. This can be a place that you used to visit regularly or a new place that matches up with your interests and desired outcomes for the trip. One couple found a little B&B near outdoor walking paths and an easy walk to the village pub, they return every couple of months for a weekend away. There are some great advantages to finding a place like this that suits you.

When choosing a place to stay, think about what is important to you:

People will get to know you, whether it is the owner of the accommodation or the local coffee shop. When people are familiar with you, and aware of your situation, they are more likely to be understanding of difficult moments and you are more likely to be supported during your stay.

You will become familiar with the space and have a good idea if there is anything that needs to be adapted for your stay. Once they know you, most hosts/small business owners will do this for you in advance if you let them know what you need.

You will get to know what is available locally and when it is available, such as restaurant opening times, public transport and points of interest.

Top Tip: Take a digital photo of the individual with dementia each morning. That way if you get separated and need assistance, you will have an up to date photo and you will know what they were wearing.

Prepare and take time to choose your holiday carefully

While it is impossible to anticipate every need you might have on a holiday, there are quite a few things you can consider that may make the experience more relaxing and enjoyable. We all put thought into where we go on holiday, but when managing symptoms of dementia, thinking carefully about how you get there can be just as important to a successful holiday.

There are many strategies that have been used by others to great success:

Planning the details

Every trip requires some advanced planning but the better prepared you are the more at ease you are likely to be. The following are some things to think about when you are planning out the details of your trip:

Plane and train travel

Top Tips to consider when travelling:

Take headphones if the person likes to listen to music and keeps them calm.
Give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your plane/train.
In airports, always go through security behind the person with dementia. If you go first you will not be able to assist them if they are stopped for any reason.
Stay well hydrated.
Bring some snacks to ward off low blood sugar and irritability.
If you are on a long journey, get up and walk around at least every two hours to reduce your risk of blood clots. Wearing flight socks can also reduce risk.
In airports utilise quiet spaces such as prayer rooms or unused lounges to reduce stimulation during layovers.
Do not be afraid to ask for help! You can request assistance at most airports, use it.

It is hoped the hints and tips above can help you consider the possibilities of travel and help with planning a break away. There may be extra planning and you may think it is too much effort but sometimes that effort can really make a difference to your experience.

The DSDC team would like to take this opportunity to wish you well in your future endeavours. If you would like to share your travel experiences, we would love to hear from you click here for contact details. Read more about travelling in DSDC’s 10 Helpful Hints for travel. If you live in Scotland you can request the 10 Helpful Hint series for free, thanks to funding.

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