Nurses’ Notes – Practical, Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Important Tips for Travelling with Persons with Dementia (Part 1)

Many persons in the early to middle stages of Dementia can travel under the right circumstances and careful planning.

Remember: A person with Dementia who is relatively independent in a familiar environment may need extra support and supervision when coping with an unfamiliar environment and change in routines. The absence of essential familiar environmental cues may cause increased disorientation to time and place.

Warning signs against travel for persons with Dementia:

  1. Disorientated and easily upset in familiar setting.
  2. Asks to go “home” when away from home e.g. in mall, restaurant, visiting family and friends.
  3. Becomes tense, upset, anxious and withdrawn in crowded, noisy places.
  4. Shows frequent signs of agitation, anxiety, wandering, delusions, paranoia, aggression and disinhibited behaviours such as shouting, swearing.
  5. Experiencing incontinence of urine and stool.
  6. Wandering and poor sleeping patterns.
  7. Resistant to personal care and may not recognize caregiver.
  8. Difficulty communicating needs resulting in increased frustration

Important: Even if no problem is evident consider a “trial run” of a 4 hour car trip or trip to the airport to see how well person tolerates the experience.

Part One: Preplanning well in advance is essential to avoid problems and to promote a successful Trip:

  1. Choose best mode of travel based on person’s ability to sit for at least 4 hours or to cope with crowds, noise or waiting in line. Speak with Airline to ensure early check-in and special boarding is available.
  2. Staying with family and friends is a good choice and less stressful if they can provide support and not too many guests are present
  3. Be prepared to cancel the trip if the person’s condition changes or deteriorates. Take out trip cancellation for travel and hotels.
  4. Make sure to arrange for appropriate medical travel insurance and to have valid Passports.
  5. Person with Dementia needs to wear an Identification Bracelet at all times. Make sure clothes, glasses, cane and purses etc. are all labelled with person’s name and phone number. ID in wallet should include person’s name, address, cell phone number and phone number where vacationing.
  6. Have a list of emergency contacts on hand. Make sure family/friends have travel itinerary and copy of all passports
  7. Ensure there are enough medications available and request Pharmacist print list of medications and dosages.
  8. Have physician prepare a list of medical conditions and allergies and any special concerns.
  9. If a long trip is being planned and you are travelling alone with the person with Dementia, hire a private caregiver to assist with supervision and to provide respite for you throughout the trip.


Main source for the Blog on Travel Tips was from: Baycrest’s Dementia: A Caregiver Guide

Photo of Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee is a Geriatric Nurse Consultant, who was a teacher since 1982, working at Baycrest for 13 years. See Rosalee’s full bio on our team page.