Going on holiday always takes careful preparation and there are many different things to consider such as your destination, how to get there, what to pack, among other things.

After a brain injury, planning a holiday might require even more care. However, holiday organisers are increasingly considering the needs and wants of people with disabilities, broadening your options of possible holiday destinations. There are various steps you can take to help your holiday to go as smoothly as possible. Whether you are planning on having a short weekend away or a long holiday abroad.

Travelling with a brain injury doesn't need to be a scary thing. If you plan for it, take your time and rest, you'll be able to relax and enjoy the full experience.


Consider using a holiday planning app to help you with making arrangements. There are many travel comparison websites that can help visitors find accessible holiday packages to browse.

If you are planning on going abroad, check whether there are any special health requirements for the countries you are visiting. Vaccinations may be required or advisable against certain native diseases; you should speak to your GP about any vaccinations you may require.

Check in advance whether the places you are travelling to and from have accessible facilities such as toilets and if so, where they are located. You could consider marking these on a map to help find them. Some cities within the UK have this information available on their websites. You may need to have a Radar key to unlock some of these toilets. Most local authorities sell Radar keys, or you can buy them online.

If you require medication on your holiday, check whether there are any restrictions on bringing your medication into the country you are travelling to. Do ensure you have a good supply of any required medication, aids and equipment to last you for your stay. If possible, take extras with you in case you are delayed from returning, but make sure this complies with any restrictions on medication types/amounts in the country you are visiting. Label medications clearly, or where possible, keep them in their original packaging. The government suggests taking along a 'travelling letter' outlining the most common effects of your brain injury.

You could consider using a free translating service, such as Google translate, to translate the information into the native language of the country you are thinking of travelling to, in case you need support while abroad.

Contact your holiday accommodation in advance to discuss any needs you may have.

If you will need help to board your vehicle of transport (i.e. coach, train, plane or ship), inform the relevant company in advance. Most companies require notice of at least 48 hours before departure. If you require a wheelchair, find out from your travel provider or transport company whether arrangements will need to be made to travel with it, as you may be required to put your wheelchair in storage during transport and have alternative arrangements made to assist you with getting on/off the vehicle. Ask your travel provider or transport company whether you will need extra time with boarding, and if so make sure you arrive with plenty of extra time to board. Air Travel

If you are not sure whether it is safe for you to fly because of your brain injury, check with your GP or neurologist. There is no set rule on this and will depend on personal circumstances.

Check in advance whether your insurance policy will cover your brain injury, as well as any aids or equipment you may need to take with you. Standard travel insurance often will not cover a brain injury, however, there are specialist insurance companies that do.

Individuals who have experienced an ABI (acquired brain injury) are typically very sensitive to sensory stimuli. They can quickly become overwhelmed by the added hustle and bustle of a typical travel experience, especially if travelling by plane.

Airports are notorious for being busy, loud, and full of movement/visual motion, and all of these factors combine to form a recipe for exacerbated symptoms. Though there is no way to completely avoid these overwhelming stimuli and resulting symptoms while travelling, there are ways to plan for travel that can make your trip as smooth as possible. Prepare and pack things early and be organised for reduced stress.

If you frequently go on holiday by plane, find out whether you can obtain a Frequent Traveller's Medical Card, as this will give the airline a record of your needs so you do not have to inform them of these every time you travel.


If you are planning on driving in another country, check whether you need an international driving permit.

Holiday Documents

Consider keeping a folder with holiday documents in so you can keep a record of important paperwork, and track the progress of your travel arrangements.

Keep a notebook, or page, in a safe place containing emergency contact details and any other important details, such as your travel insurance provider's emergency number and your policy number.

Enjoy your Holiday

Don't forget to pack a camera (or your mobile phone charger if you have a camera phone), so that you can take photos of your holiday! This might be particularly important if you have memory problems and are likely to forget your precious holiday moments.

If you find it difficult to cope in busy, noisy or crowded environments, contact any attractions you are planning on visiting, in advance, to find out when they are quietest. Some places may have quieter hours when it might be easier for you to visit.

Try to pace your activities while you are on holiday so that you can take breaks to avoid getting fatigued. Spacing out activities is helpful so you have time to rest. Maybe plan nothing for the day you arrive and something easy for the next day. No matter where you are, your holiday does not need to be fast paced. Make sure to travel with someone you trust and who knows your situation. You need to communicate with them when you need a rest.

While some people enjoy an alcoholic drink while on holiday, be aware that alcohol tolerance can reduce after brain injury.

Discounted Travel

There are a number of schemes which offer discounts on travel within the UK. For instance, a Disabled Person's Railcard gives up to a third off rail tickets; you may be able to get a bus pass offering free bus travel, this would be issued by your local council. Depending on your circumstances, some organisations may offer financial assistance to help towards holiday costs.

Top Tips

1. Pack in the least cluttered room in your home, and consider packing on a plain white sheet (on the floor or on the bed, etc.) to reduce extra visual stress;

2. Mark your bag with a unique identifier to reduce stress and confusion when trying to keep track of your luggage at the airport;

3. Place essential items (ID, ticket, etc.) that need to be accessible in a single bag, or specific place in your bag/purse to avoid the stress of searching for them at the airport;

4. Pack ear plugs in an accessible location to reduce noise;

5. Keep peppermint or ginger chews on hand to help reduce symptoms of nausea;

6. Find a quieter coffee shop or restaurant to wait for your flight/boat/train/coach as opposed to sitting in the terminal where it is loud and busy;

7. Find a quieter/less busy space to close your eyes, sit, and breathe. Though you may not feel symptomatic at the time, resting frequently will help prevent compounding stress and symptoms that can cause prolonged recovery time after your trip;

8. Consider wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, or an eye mask while flying to reduce awareness of the small enclosure of the plane, and other visual distractors (lights turning on and off, people getting up and down etc.);

9. Wait to get off your transport until the majority of people have exited to reduce extra crowding and stimulus around you;

10. REST when you arrive at your destination - you may need to let family know you need a few moments to regroup cognitively before entering into busy family festivities;

These tips are designed to help make travelling as smooth and symptom-free as possible, but each person is unique and it may take time to find the tips and tricks that work best for you.

Travelling is exhausting for a person without a brain injury, so it's ten times more exhausting for someone with one. Dealing with symptoms of a brain injury is all about finding what strategies work for you.

Originally published 06 July 2022.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.