Holidays and stroke

Holidays are an important part of life, and this guide can help you with holiday planning if you have a health condition or disability after a stroke.

Types of holiday

If you’re thinking about getting away, there are various holiday options to choose from with different levels of support. If a stroke has left you with mobility problems, you may prefer to book with a specialist travel agency that can arrange care and equipment for you.

Some holiday packages also include an organised programme of activities, such as sports and outdoor activities or visits to local attractions, while others only offer accommodation so that you can do your own thing.

Air travel after a stroke

People often ask whether it is safe to fly after a stroke. There is no hard and fast answer to this. Most airlines will not carry someone within days of a stroke, but the rules vary between airlines and countries. In the weeks after a stroke, you are at the highest risk of another stroke. So the most important thing is to get individual advice from your hospital or GP about the likely risks of travelling.

In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority suggests waiting 10 days after a stroke before a flight. But if your condition is stable you may be able to fly after three days. Each airline will have its own rules on flying with medical conditions, so you need to check with the airline before flying. You may be asked to provide a doctor’s note or certificate.

European emergency number: 112 (Dial from anywhere in the UK or Europe to be connected to local emergency services).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and holidays

We know that holidays and travel may be affected by social distancing rules. You need to check on the latest rules about your journey and destination before travelling. If you are more vulnerable due to a health condition, you will need to follow the guidance you are given to reduce your risk of infection.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is important to have travel insurance, especially if you are going abroad. The Stroke Association has a partnership with specialist medical travel insurer AllClear Travel, which provide comprehensive cover to stroke survivors.

Find out more at stroke.org.uk/insurance. Make sure you declare that you’ve had a stroke when arranging your insurance and check that you are fully covered. Many policies will exclude conditions that you had before you took out the policy (known as pre-existing medical conditions). This varies between policies, but it could mean that you would have to pay for any costs relating to these conditions. There are specialist travel insurers that provide cover for pre-existing conditions.

UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) allows you to receive state-provided healthcare in European countries at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. You can apply for a GHIC online on the NHS website. A GHIC card is free of charge. If you are charged a fee while applying online, check that you are on the correct website.

If you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it. Some people can apply for a new UK EHIC that they can use in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as well as in EU countries. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/global-health-insurance-card.

Travelling with medication

If you carry medication or medical equipment like syringes in your hand luggage, you should bring documentation like a doctor’s letter. You should also carry a copy of your prescription. As well as helping you avoid any problems at airline security and customs, this will be useful if you need medical help while you’re away. Make sure you take enough medication with you in case you are unexpectedly delayed. If you are travelling across time zones, ask your pharmacist for advice about timing your medication.

Check before you fly

Always contact the airline or travel company for the latest guidance before you travel if you have any questions about health conditions or support for disabled travellers. There may be restrictions on taking medications into some countries or specific health guidance on travel in a particular area. Check beforehand with the embassy of the country you’re travelling to, or visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Information

Other resources

Stroke Association Helpline
Helpline: 0303 3033 100
Email: helpline@stroke.org.uk
Contact us for information about stroke, emotional support and details of local services and support groups.

AccessAble
Tel: 01438 842 710
Email: hello@accessable.co.uk
Produces information about access to thousands of venues across the UK and Republic of Ireland, including shops, theatres and railway stations.

Disabled Travel Advice
Offering advice on all aspects of travelling with a disability.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
Tel: 0303 123 9999
Email: helpline@rnib.org.uk
Provides information to help people with vision problems plan a holiday.

Shared Care Scotland
Tel: 01383 622 462
Email: office@sharedcarescotland.com
Offers information to help you and your carer plan a short break and respite care. It explains the different services that are available and where you can go to apply for funding if you need to.

Tourism for All
Tel: 0845 124 9971
Email: info@tourismforall.org.uk
This national charity runs an information service for people with disabilities. They have lots of information and advice that can help you plan a trip both in the UK and overseas.

Visit Britain
The official website of the British Tourist Authority with some information about accessible travel and accommodation. Runs the National Accessible Scheme, a nationally recognised rating to ensure accommodation meets accessibility standards.

For more resources please download the 'Holidays and stroke guide' (PDF)

Disclaimer: The Stroke Association provides the details of other organisations for information only. Inclusion on My Stroke Guide does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.