Travel Advice for Stroke Patients

Sunset over Charleston, South Carolina
14th May 2015

If you or someone close to you has recently had a stroke or mini stroke, try not to let it stop you from enjoying the important things in life, like taking the holidays you’ve always enjoyed. With the right planning, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a trouble-free trip to anywhere you wish to go.

Below is some useful travel information to help you plan a trip which fits in with your health requirements:


Travel checklist – what to bring

  • Your medications – Plus more to cover for any loss or travel delays during your journey.
  • A list of your prescription medications and dosages – This will make things easier if you lose them or need medical treatment while you are away.
  • A doctor’s letter to confirm your condition and the treatment you are under – Give contact details just in case a healthcare professional where you are staying needs to contact your doctor for information.
  • Your travel insurance documents – Keep them handy as insurers normally require you to contact them within 48 hours if you have an emergency while you’re on holiday.
  • The European Health Insurance card (EHIC) – Along with your travel insurance documents if travelling within the EEA, Switzerland or other countries with health agreements with the UK. This free card grants you state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free, depending on where you are travelling – a full list of EHIC covered countries is available here. Bear in mind that the National Health Service (NHS) advises travellers to cover their holidays adequately with a private travel insurance policy, using their EHIC as additional cover only.
  • A light fold-up chair if you have trouble walking for long periods of time – You’ll probably walk far more than you normally do at home so being able to rest whenever you need to will be a great help.
  • An able-bodied companion – Sometimes after a stroke, you will need to slow down and allow others to help more than you are used to. Having someone travel with you is likely to be invaluable if you need help or support if you get tired and they can also help carry your bags.


View over Trinidad in Cuba


Plan your trip

Are you fit to travel? – Before you book, you’ll need to get clearance from your doctor that you are fit to travel to your chosen destination.  Be aware that you will not normally be able to get travel insurance if you are awaiting surgery or if, after a stay in hospital, you have not been discharged from any follow-up treatment.

Research carefully – Before you book, it’s a good idea to view your accommodation and facilities online if possible. Alternatively, you could ask what facilities you can expect so that you are sure you will be well catered for.

Specialised holidays – Many organisations in the UK provide access to information on holidays for anyone with medical requirements. Try Tourism for All, Access Travel or Enable Holidays for specialist holidays in the UK and overseas.

Wheelchair access – If you need a wheelchair, it’s important to research your destination carefully to check beforehand if there is easy access for you to get about. If you are visiting family or friends without adequate wheelchair access, it’s worth considering a stay at a nearby wheelchair-friendly guest house or hotel instead. Book a hotel room on the ground floor to make moving around as effortless as possible.

Safety aids – If you are unsteady on your feet, does your accommodation have grab bars and a walk-in shower for safety? Is the room free of steps and big enough to enable wheelchair manoeuvres if needed?

Book a bus tour – This can often be a great way to see a city or even a country without needing to move much. There’s often no need to keep up with other people – if you feel too tired to get off at every stop, you can simply stay on the bus until you are ready to stop off later.


Flying after a stroke

Get your doctor’s clearance to fly – However, this will not normally be given during the first two weeks after your stroke as your risk of complications will be at its highest.

Fly direct to avoid the exertion of connections – The extra cost will be worth it. If a connection really is the only way, make sure there’s plenty of time between your flights. Leave enough time to get to the departure gate without rushing.

Check in as much baggage as possible – To avoid carrying more weight than you need to. Luggage with wheels helps you move around more easily and luggage trolleys are a great help.

Hand luggage – Use a shoulder bag to free up your hands, and don’t forget to keep your medications with you in your hand luggage rather than in the hold. Keep your doctor’s letter ready so that you can pass through security without problems.

Get assistance – Contact the airline beforehand to arrange for early boarding and, if necessary, a wheelchair on the day. Using a wheelchair or shuttle cart can be a great help to get you effortlessly around the terminal and to the departure gates.

Stay at an airport hotel – It’s important to keep as relaxed as you possibly can. If your flight leaves early or you have a long journey to the airport, it might be a good idea to stay overnight at an airport hotel near to the terminal you’ll need.

Move around the aircraft as much as possible – To reduce your risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).This short video demonstrates some easy exercises to do while on board.



Get an aisle seat for a little more leg room to stretch during the journey – Flex your feet and toes often to keep the blood circulating which should reduce potential for swelling or DVT.

Oxygen – If you need to bring oxygen in the form of nasal cannulae or use oxygen provided on the aircraft, make sure you contact the airline and check their policy on taking oxygen aboard. They may charge extra for this. Depending on the flight, an aircraft will normally offer flow rates of between 2 and 4 litres of oxygen per minute.

Bring snacks – Airline food and snacks in public places can often be quite salty, which is not good for your blood pressure levels, so don’t forget to bring your own. Avoid alcohol and sedatives as they can make you sleepy or less active during the flight, bringing on DVT – drink plenty of water instead.


Stroke travel insurance

Travel insurance for stroke patients is a must if you are to be well prepared for your holidays. The cost of emergency treatment, repatriation, and any unexpected extra flights and accommodation you may need if you become hospitalised can definitely mount up, so it’s good to know you’re covered by a good travel insurance policy should something happen.

At Talk to TIM, we do the hard work for you. We find you the right policy, leaving you to get on with the fun things, like looking forward to your trip. Get an online quote from us today and see for yourself how easy it is to obtain quality, affordable travel cover. Alternatively, Talk to TIM free of charge on 0800 054 2252 – we look forward to helping you.


The information provided in this blog is non-advisory and merely meant as a general guide to the matters covered in our articles. For more information, please consult a professional advisor.

All travel insurance provided by Talk to TIM is subject to agreement from the underwriters. Terms and conditions apply, details of which can be found within the relevant Policy Documents.

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