Travelling made easier

I realise that travelling isn't for everyone and for some people their travelling companion may now be past the stage where they can cope with being away from home but holidays have always been a big part of our lives and I'm not ready to give up on them yet.  In the past we have skied in France, Canada (East & West) and California; we've driven up, down and across France at different times of the year; we've visited Western Australia twice; we've stayed in an apartment at the top of a citadel in Corsica; we've relaxed on beaches in Antigua; we've flown by helicopter to the Scilly Isles; we've visited Florida 4 times and managed to avoid Disney every time; we've stayed on  Comino which is a tiny island between Gozo and Malta and is little more than a rock in the Mediterranean - no trees, bushes, roads, shops, restaurants - just a hotel, a couple of beaches and some amazing snorkeling; we've driven across a roman causeway to stay on an island off the coast of Essex.  It was January and we had the island to ourselves; we've camped, stayed in apartments, done all inclusive, used travel companies and organised things independently.  Most of these were done before dementia hit our lives and some were done before we realised dementia was lurking (although looking back there were signs that life had changed if only I had looked more closely).

So here's what I've learnt already about holidaying with dementia:

Don't go anywhere for fewer than 4 nights.  A couple of months ago we went to stay with friends.  We've been lots of times before but this was the first time since the dementia really took hold.  The idea was to arrive on Monday and come home on Thursday.  Everything would be familiar and all would be ok.  In reality it took until Wednesday for Ash to recognise where he was, we had one relaxed day and then it was time to come home.

Plan, plan and plan again.  Remove as much stress from the trip as possible which might seem obvious but is very hard to do.  If you're stressed then you're travelling partner will be too but doubly so.  Mostly they won't remember where they are or why they're there so you need to go somewhere that's familiar to you and where you know what you're doing so that you can remain calm.  Planning to the nth degree also means that you can plan for almost every eventuality.  Consider every possibly scenario and then decide what you will do if something goes wrong.

Next week we're going to Lanzarote.  I booked this a while ago before I had recognised the need for familiarity so we are going somewhere we've never been before which may not be the best idea but to counteract that I have:

  1. taken the whole day off work the day before we fly so that we have a leisurely drive to the airport.
  2. booked us in to a hotel for the night before our flight and one which is within walking distance of the airport terminal.  We've stayed there lots of times and can leave the car in the hotel car park then just go to reception when we get back, pick up the car keys and get the car.
  3. chosen a 9.30am flight rather than a 7am one so that we're not rushed in the morning.
  4. chosen a resort not far from the airport which means we don't need a hire car.
  5. booked fast track through airport security which is quieter, calmer and less rushed.   I could have booked assistance through the airline but Ash hates the fact that he has this illness so am putting that off as long as possible.
  6. made sure we are taking hand luggage only.  We always do this (apart from the times we've been skiing) and it raises eyebrows every time however we have never been party animals and there is always a laundry room in whichever resort we've stayed in.  Plus we're going to Lanzarote and it will, I hope, be sunny so not many clothes needed.  Last November we went to Florida for 3 weeks, spent part of it driving around the Florida Keys and the other part up in West Palm beach and did the whole trip with hand luggage only so I know it can be done and it cuts out one possible area where things can go wrong - you can't lose you're suitcase.
I don't know if this is enough planning but will let you know when we get back.

June 2018
Two weeks and 3 days after leaving Lanzarote and we're still in the calm zone.  Those two weeks in the sun gave both of us breathing space and me time to watch, wait and work out what we do next.  One thing I really took note of was that being somewhere different seemed to be a bonus rather than something to worry about and I've come to the conclusion that it took all the pressure off.  No expectations of past experiences to be remembered, no worry that questions would be asked that he couldn't answer and, best of all, new things for us to discover together.  I have no idea how long we're going to be able to carry on with the holidays so am making the most of this and planning the next one now.  Not booking it you understand but starting that planning process so that, if we can go, then I'm ready.  Putting into practice what I've learnt from one of the best holidays we've ever had I'm looking for somewhere:

  1. new
  2. in Europe (shortish flight)
  3. within easy reach of the airport (no hire car)
  4. self catering but near restaurants if we want them (no pressure)
  5. warm (sun makes us feel better)
  6. in November (escaping the grey weather at home)
Luckily I love researching and planning holidays so am really looking forward to this.  Who knows if we'll be able to go but am working on the assumption that we will and then we'll see what happens.

We're also going to get the tent out and have a weekend practice run not too far from home.  If that goes well then we'll try further away in September, if it doesn't go well we'll come home.  Watch this space to see how we get on.


Cornwall Girl said…
This is such good advice and duplicates my experience. I will not make the mistake of going long haul again ...Arranged it for all the right reasosns ,special occassion etc etc but never again....
Jane said…
Following the Lanazarote trip I was over-confident and arranged a trip to Florida in January. I realised at the time that it would be the last long haul we'd have but didn't realise how difficult it would be mainly down to the time difference which Ash really struggled with. Arriving back at Gatwick after an overnight flight was a nightmare and I swore 'never again'. We haven't been abroad again this year but I'm now planning a trip to Spain next March. It's wouldn't necessarily be my first choice but should be sunny, it's a short flight and I can choose flight times based on a number of departure airports. After that we'll see.
joshinglis said…
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