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10 Tips for Successful Travel

There are many lifestyle things that change as dementia progresses, from every day routines to special occasions. Many families still choose to travel and do so successfully. Whether it is a day trip in the car or an international vacation, it takes some planning to ensure safety for the person living with the diagnosis, sanity for the care partner, and lower anxiety for everyone involved.

Here are my top 10 tips for successful travel:

  1. Keep the routine. Try to keep elements of your day the same as at home (waking and sleeping times, when you eat your meals, an afternoon nap, etc.)
  2. Travel somewhere familiar! If you’re worried about a big trip, travel somewhere you’ve been before so you know the lay of the land, and can plan out more beforehand.
  3. Can I see some ID? Make sure your IDs are current, and that you carry extra copies in a safe place in case one gets lost.
  4. Make sure your loved one has ID too! Take a picture of your loved one and keep emergency phone numbers in their wallet, purse, phone, or wear an ID bracelet in case your loved one would get separated from you.
  5. Limit decision-making and choices. With all the new surroundings, try to limit choices for your loved one – and maybe even yourself! – to keep things from getting overwhelming.
  6. Keep a bag of essentials with you. Especially if you’re taking a flight, keep essential meds, change of clothes, snacks, water, emergency contact or medical info with you in case you can’t get your luggage right away.
  7. Take a family member or understanding friend. Having an extra person along for the trip is another set of eyes and ears, and can also add to the fun!
  8. Make a (realistic) plan but be flexible. The whole point of vacation is to enjoy yourself, so try to relax and have fun even if you don’t get to all the things on your list.
  9. Keep everyone in the know. Discreetly inform those you interact with that your loved one has a memory impairment (carrying the IMCC memory impairment cards) or call the hotel/tour/cruise in advance. A little foreknowledge can help ease many interactions.
  10. Enjoy the moments together! Overall, don’t forget to have fun and actually enjoy each other’s company.

The bottom line is to set yourself up for success so that you both enjoy the trip. All of this makes me think of the song “Happy Trails” by Dale Evans, which is what I wish for you.

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.

It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.


Lindsey Vajpeyi is the Director of Education and Outreach at Insight Memory Care Center.


"I like that IMCC focuses on dementia-related problems and provides a focal point for families to network and socially interact in coping with dementia. It provides a community that helps us in our struggle."