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Whether you’re planning to take a break abroad or in the UK, there are things to consider to make sure the holiday is enjoyable for you and your relative.

This page contains information on:

1. Day trips
2. Holidays in the UK
3. Planning an international holiday
4. Healthcare abroad
5. Travelling by air
6. Travelling equipment

Day trips

Going on a day trip can be a wonderful way to spend quality time together, particularly if your relative spends a lot of time indoors or they are unable to travel independently. There are many options for day trips depending on your travel options, your local area and your relative’s individual needs. If your loved one has physical problems, considering the following questions can make sure the day trip you’re planning is suitable:

  • Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • Does the venue have disabled toilets?
  • Is this an activity he or she will enjoy?

Discussing the trip with your relative will help address these sorts of issues, and will also allow them to feel more involved in the planning of the day.

Holidays in the UK

UK-based holidays are an excellent option if a holiday abroad is too expensive or impractical. They are a particularly good option if flight or train travel aren’t suitable for your relative.

There’s a broad range of adapted and accessible holiday homes around the UK, so it should be possible for you to find a suitable holiday cottage in most regions. You can use Google or other search engines to look for ‘accessible holidays’ or ‘disabled access holidays’ and explore your options.

If you choose to stay in a hotel, most will have accessible rooms on the ground floor that can be booked in advance. However, always check that the facilities are suitable for your relative beforehand and find out if you need to bring extra items to make the stay as comfortable as possible.

If you’re acting as a carer for your relative, it’s important to remember to take time for yourself as well. Respite holidays are an excellent way to take a break, and there are many different options available.

Planning an international holiday

If you’re going abroad with your relative or friend, it’s important to consider the support you may both need during the holiday at every stage of the planning process.

For example:

  • Are you staying in a hotel and, if so, are they able to provide a room that suits your relative’s needs?
  • If you choose a private cottage, is it easily accessible and is it adequately equipped?

If you can afford it, a cruise is an excellent way to travel abroad with an older person. They usually have facilities specifically tailored to meet the needs of people in wheelchairs and this can take the stress out of flying and making personal arrangements.

Healthcare abroad

If you are travelling abroad with your relative and he or she is particularly frail or has mobility problems, it’s important to find out how the healthcare system is set up and paid for in the country that you’re travelling to. Also consider potential language barriers – will you be able to communicate effectively with the hospital staff in the case of an emergency?

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential if you’re planning to visit an EEA country. It allows you access to healthcare in other European countries for free or at a reduced cost. At present, the EHIC remains valid, but once the UK leaves the EU, it is unlikely to remain so.

Travel insurance is a must for any holiday. Check carefully what is and isn’t covered under the terms of your policy to avoid a nasty shock in the event of an emergency.

Which? Money has a lot of information about travel insurance, including for people over the age of 65 and those with medical problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Travelling by air

Another thing to research beforehand is your chosen airline and any associated regulations. This is particularly important if your relative will be travelling with a wheelchair.

Speak to the airline and the airport when you book to ensure they will be able to provide you and your relative with additional assistance when it comes to boarding the plane. It’s always good to be prepared when it comes to travelling, so don’t be afraid to ask. 

Travelling equipment

Before you travel, make sure you have everything you need for your trip, whether you’re going away for a day or a week. It’s far better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Lightweight and portable equipment

It can be a good idea to purchase lightweight, portable versions of the products your relative uses in his or her home.
Folding toilet, bathing and shower supports are available and may be necessary to ensure your relative can use hotel facilities.

Lightweight folding wheelchairs can be a good idea for someone not able to walk longer distances and will allow your relative to join in family activities.

Hiring travel equipment

Hiring equipment at your destination may be the easiest way to ensure you have the products you need while not having to transport larger items yourself. A number of companies offer rental disability equipment.

Even if your relative or friend doesn’t normally use a wheelchair or scooter, you might want to consider renting one while on holiday, as there can often be more walking involved when you’re on a break.

More information

  • Radar keys: if you're travelling domestically, a radar key allows access to accessible/disabled toilets all over the UK.
  • Mobility aids: on this page you can read about the different kinds of mobility aids that are available both in and out of the home.
  • Travelling by car: if you are travelling by car, there are a number of things to consider to make the journey as comfortable as possible for elderly passengers.

Page last reviewed: November 2016
Next review due: January 2019