Accessible types of holiday for people with dementia

Some types of holiday may be more accessible for people living with dementia. Find out more about different ways to go on holiday.

Organising and going on holiday without extra support can be difficult for people living with a disability like dementia. But taking time away from home can be just as important to them.

There are ways to make travelling more accessible for people living with dementia. Some options are listed here. 

Specialist holidays

There are a range of holiday providers for people who need extra support during their time away.

What are the benefits of going on a specialist holiday?

  • They include access to specialist equipment or professional carers. These can provide extra support to you while on holiday.
  • A person with dementia can go on these holidays alone. This can offer an alternative to respite care.
  • They can also go with a friend, relative or carer. This can enable you to experience time away together, while still having help available when you need it.
  • Specialist holidays often offer a mix of day trips and on-site activities, with time to socialise as a larger group if you wish. 

There are a number of providers offering specialist holidays for people with disabilities and their carers across the UK. This includes people affected by dementia.

Travelling independently with extra support

Travelling independently (not through a travel company) can be a good idea for some people.

What are the benefits of travelling independently?

This would give you more choice and flexibility when planning a holiday. It could also allow you to tailor it to your needs and to the needs of the person you care for. 

Things to consider

  • Travelling independently doesn't mean that you have to do everything alone. There are still ways of getting extra help. For instance, if the person with dementia needs a high level of support on holiday, you could consider going away with someone else. This can ensure that the person with dementia is still supported if you need time alone. This could be a friend or family member.
  • Or, if you qualify for financial support from social services, you may be able to use your direct payment to fund a paid carer for a short trip. For more information on this see our information on personal budgets (for England and Wales) and direct payments (for Northern Ireland).
  • If you want to go on holiday without an extra person, try a night away somewhere closer to home first. This will allow you to see how you both manage in a new environment. See ‘Day trips’ below for more information on short breaks away.
  • If you are organising your own trip, travel companies, lodgings and tourist sites may be able to offer support as well. When booking your trip, get in touch with the company and ask what they can offer to meet the needs of someone with dementia.
  • If possible, think about booking ‘out of season’, as places are likely to be less busy and staff will be able to give you more time and attention. This can also mean that you get more support during the journey

Staying with friends and family

If it’s possible to stay with friends or family, this can be a great option.

What are the benefits of staying with friends or family?

  • It can be more affordable.
  • It can allow for more flexibility – for example, removing the need to check in or out at a particular time.
  • It can be a good way for you and the person living with dementia to get support from people you know and trust.

Things to consider 

  • If you are visiting friends or relatives, or if a number of people are going away together, it is a good idea to talk openly about what they should expect. If the person you care for is comfortable with this, it could make the trip more stress-free for everyone. For example, if the person you care for struggles to sleep at night, or if their behaviour and moods have changed, it would help to let the other people on the trip know about this.
  • If you are staying or travelling with children, read our tips on talking to young people about dementia.
  • You could also discuss ways each person could help if they want to. People are usually more willing to offer support if you are clear about how they can help. For example, someone could support with tasks you would usually do, such as cooking dinner. 
  • If someone is able to, it could be nice for them to spend time with the person with dementia for a few hours in the day. This can give both you and the person you care for a break from each other. It would also give friends and family the opportunity to spend some quality time with the person with dementia.

Day trips

Day trips can be a good option if staying away overnight is difficult.  

What are the benefits of going on a day trip?

  • They can be cheaper.
  • They can be easier to organise.
  • They can be less disruptive for the person with dementia.

Things to consider

  • As with any holiday, try to shape the trip around your interests and those of the person you care for. Read some ideas for day trip activities below.
  • Some venues (such as museums, galleries and cinemas) might have quieter sessions for people who find busy places overwhelming.
  • Many tourist organisations also work to make their sites accessible. The charities Euan’s Guide and Tourism for All offer information about accessible places to visit.
  • If it is difficult to organise a day trip, you may be able to try some day trip activities virtually. If you're not able to travel, there are ways to have new experiences while staying close to home.

Ideas for day trip activities

A popular activity for some people who have dementia is visiting heritage sites, like historic houses and estates. Often they include outdoor areas that can be beneficial to people living with dementia. 

The National Trust manages many heritage sites. It’s working to make all of its sites inclusive for people affected by dementia.

Other ideas for day trip activities include:

  • an afternoon tea at a hotel or a teahouse
  • a visit to a place of worship
  • a dance class or a singing group with music from the person’s culture
  • a trip to a day centre or community group, with games or outdoor activities
  • a visit to a botanical garden, community garden or park
  • a trip to the seaside
  • a pub lunch or a meal out with food from the person’s culture
  • a gentle exercise class, like tai-chi or qigong
  • a day at a shopping mall or a leisure centre
  • a culturally-specific reminiscence session
  • a visit to a museum or an exhibition
  • a concert, gig, theatre or opera
  • a trip to an aquarium, farm or zoo.
Useful organisations

There are many organisations who can support people affected by dementia who are considering a holiday. 

Find out more
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