Travelling after having a stroke

Having a stroke is life-changing and can leave you feeling like normal life is over. However, with therapy, treatment or rehabilitation, many people can resume their lives, including travelling and going on holiday. Below are some points to take into consideration before you go away:

  • Before you go away, check with your GP that you’re fit enough to travel, and if you intend on flying, make sure you’ll pass any fit-to-fly evaluations. Ask about medication, treatment or any vaccinations you’ll need before you depart on your trip and discuss going on holiday with them – they may be able to offer advice specific to your medical situation.
  • Booking your holiday can be difficult even without having the effects of a stroke.
    If your stroke has left you with mobility problems, check with your accommodation provider, travel provider and holiday company whether they can provide the right assistance, care and/or equipment. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair, are there any disabled parking spaces? Is the door to the bathroom wide enough for you to get in and out with ease? Is there wheelchair access?
  • Make sure you research medical facilities local to your destination as they may be different from home and in case of an emergency you may need to access them. Find out where they are and what the local emergency number is.
  • Invest in a good travel insurance policy that covers you and your condition for what you want to do on holiday.
  • It may sound silly, but ‘train’ for your trip. You always plan on doing more on holiday than you do for the same amount of time at home, so gently push yourself and build up your stamina for all the sight-seeing you’ll be doing but don’t over-do it. If you feel tired, take it easy.
  • Take extra copies of the itinerary and plan times for leaving and arriving at different points on your trip. This should make you think a bit more about any extra time you need in between things because of mobility issues, toilet breaks, food breaks etc.
  • If you’re coping with aphasia as an after-effect of having a stroke, sight-seeing can be particularly difficult whilst on holiday. Tour guides can have accents, talk fast and quote names, dates and numbers at a pace which is hard to process. Get through this by picking up any brochures which are likely to have similar information in, or ask a travel companion to write things on a notebook so you can understand what is being said.

Medical Care Abroad

Going abroad usually means you are leaving the safe umbrella of the NHS, and medical costs overseas can often be more expensive than we realise. Whilst travel insurance can help us with these high costs after we’ve had an accident or become ill, it also covers costs that the free or subsidised medical treatment you’re entitled to, might not.

EHIC – Europe

If you’re planning on travelling somewhere within the European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland, from 1st January 2021 rules around travel to Europe have changed, visit the Government website for up to date information on passports, EHIC, healthcare and more. We’ll update this page with more information as and when the Government release it.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA in New Zealand

If you are travelling as a visitor in New Zealand, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system, any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the New Zealand Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The New Zealand Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within New Zealand and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA/Medicare in Australia

Medicare is a publicly funded health care system available to citizens and ordinarily resident individuals throughout Australia. If you are travelling as a visitor in Australia, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system and any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with New Zealand, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within Australia and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey

Cruise Holiday Packing Tips

Cruises are filled with fun activities such as surf simulators, tennis courts, swimming pools, zip-wiring and not to mention the excursions you can book once your ship is in port. So when it comes to packing, it’s okay not to know where to start.

Planning ahead when it comes to luggage is essential, especially if you’re taking a flight to board your cruise at a foreign port. Battling with bulging bags can mean you incur excess charges when it comes to checking the bags in, so pack lightly to benefit!
Flying before your cruise also means keeping an eye on your hand luggage. Pack it wisely and include a change of clothes, essential documentation, medication and chargers should your luggage not arrive on time


  • Clothes are likely to fill your case quicker, so keep in mind the dress code for your ship or cruise line (available to view on the cruise line’s website) so no packed clothes remain in your cabin wardrobe for the entire trip and waste space in your suitcase.
  • Bring clothes which will allow you to dress appropriately for both your cruise’s destination and itinerary. Ships sailing round the Caribbean and French Polynesia have a much more casual dress code than those sailing round Europe.
  • Wear sensible clothing and footwear for any excursions or activities you intend on participating in.For example, wearing flip flops on the beach but packing more practical shoes for walking, hiking or sight-seeing onshore.
  • Consider doing your laundry on-board. Most ships offer a laundry service and although they might be pricier than you expect, it might be worth the extra weight and space allowance in your luggage. If you want to skip excess charges, one great idea is to pack some travel detergent or Febreze in with your bags to get more than a day’s wear out of one outfit, which comes in handy on longer cruises.
  • Leave your bathrobe and towels at home as these will be provided by the cabin steward upon your embarkation.


  • Remember the basics – things like alarm clocks are not provided by the cruise operators, so if you intend on getting up early, either bring an alarm clock with you or use your phone, but remember that most mobile networks have roaming charges in place.
  • It’s handy if you pack things that won’t be provided on-board (or if they are, at an excessive price) so items such as extra hangers and other things to ensure you make the most out of the limited storage space your cabin has, any medication and prescriptions you need throughout your trip, memory cards, sunscreen, ear plugs and plastic bags for holding electronic equipment are all great items which could save you both time and money.
  • Power strips and extension leads are commonly named as the most-needed-not-packed item amongst regular cruisers, as there are limited sockets within your cabin and with today’s reliance on phones, cameras and tablets to all be ready to go, you’ll need room to plug in and charge these at night.
  • Small bags and backpacks prove practical on shore excursions by carrying important documentation, cameras, sunscreen and the all-important water bottle.


  • Music players such as mp3 players or iPods can be useful on board or when you’re travelling to keep boredom at bay.Cameras and video cameras can be used to capture your holiday sights, although most phones these days come with a decent quality camera, so you might not need these as well. Portable game players keep children and teens entertained for hours on end and white noise machines can drown out the sounds of the roaring engine or particularly loud groups of people if your room is located in a noisy area of the ship.


  • If you’re usually a bookworm on holiday, there won’t be a need to fill your suitcase with heavy and space-consuming novels, or even your e-Reader, as many ships have on-board libraries. For beach and water-based cruises with younger children, inflatable water toys are ideal to pack as they provide days of entertainment on the water and also pack away easily into your luggage. If you intend to scuba-dive, snorkel, ski or play golf, it’s recommended you bring your own equipment unless you want to hire some. For wildlife-orientated cruises, it’s essential that you bring a camera and a decent pair of binoculars so you don’t miss any of the animal action.


  • Similar to a hotel, all cruise ships provide shampoo and soap in their cabin bathrooms. Most rooms include a low-wattage hair dryer too, so there isn’t any need to bring your own. Personal medications and sunscreen should be packed with your hand luggage and bring enough of it to last the entirety of your holiday.Medicine is often hard or expensive to acquire once your ship has set sail and sunscreen is sold at a higher price both on-board and in the ports of call.

Things to Do on a Cruise Holiday

The traditional image of a cruise ship has long changed from the classic images of couples walking on the promenade, only one large pool for all passengers to use and plenty of deck space for sunning areas. Nowadays, modern ships contain enough amenities and hold enough events so that a day spent sailing at sea is just as exciting as a day in port.

On-deck activities

On-deck activities now span from zip-wires to climbing walls and pool bars which transform into nightclubs over the course of the evening. Passengers can now partake in sky-diving and surfing simulations and swim in large resort-style pools with resistant currents, waterparks and wave machines.

Evening entertainment

Evening entertainment has always been a key element to cruising and modern day cruise lines have kept this classic aspect and transformed it from the stereotypical cabaret to laser displays and elaborately-dressed performers performing Broadway shows, or a high-octane acrobatic water performance by the crew.


On-board children’s clubs often host a huge variety of activities, including film pool parties, sleepovers, night nurseries, discos, nightclubs and lounges for teens and young adults, improv classes, ice-skating, dodgeball, circus training and talent shows alongside the huge number of amenities available on-board and in the ports of call.


Cruises are an incredible opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do in locations other holiday operators can’t always get to. From swimming with dolphins to cage-diving with sharks, kayaking round gigantic glaciers in the Baltic to spending the day under the tutelage of a professional sculptor in Italy. Similar to the way that ships have amenities for people with all tastes, they also provide excursions for people with different interests.

If you are taking part in an activity whist on an excursion, please double check our list of ‘covered activities’ to ensure you are fully covered. Click here to see the list.


One of the key advantages to choosing a cruise as your holiday is the all-inclusive price, which includes food and drink. Having several gourmet and casual variety restaurants within such a close area means that almost every passenger’s individual taste is catered for. Room service is also available on most ships, making the highly-commended, plentiful food available to passengers 24/7 for a small charge. Bars on-board cruise ships are becoming more diverse, with ships having up to ten bars which range from traditional British pubs to specialist champagne or martini bars and ice bars offering the latest cocktail concoction at the hands of award-winning mixologists.


In addition to all of this, ships are making more and more facilities available to their customers, including transforming their ships into floating resorts, complete with spas, gyms, salons, shops and opportunities for passengers to join in on workshops and listen to lectures.

Daily Bulletin

Activities and events are usually delivered to your cabin each evening, detailing the itinerary or schedule for the next day, on the Daily Bulletin. This should already be in your cabin upon your embarkation of the ship.

Piste Safety

Winter sports are great fun and relatively safe, with less injuries being caused each year than more ordinary sports such as tennis or running. As long as you’re sensible, you shouldn’t find yourself at risk of an accident or injury.

However, every year hundreds of people who participate in winter sports such as skiing, skating or snowboarding find themselves in hospital with injuries. Some are minor and some are serious and require urgent medical attention leading to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even repatriation, so travel insurance is a must.

Below are some tips we’ve gathered to help you stay safe whether you’re on, or off-piste.

#1: Make sure you take out the right winter sports travel insurance.

  • Check the policy suits you and your needs before you invest.
  • Keep your travel insurance medical emergency helpline number and policy number to hand at all times.

#2: Make sure either your equipment, or the gear you hire – is in good condition

  • For skiing, make sure the skis are the right length for you.
  • For snowboarding, make sure your boots are comfortable and fit snugly.
  • Make sure the bindings are fitted correctly.
  • If you’re ice skating, make sure your blades are sharp.
  • Don’t borrow skiing equipment – it should fit your height, weight and skill level.

#3: Wear protective headgear

  • Make wearing protective headgear or a helmet mandatory amongst your travelling group, especially if they include kids.

#4: Prepare for the cold climate with layered clothes underneath waterproof and windproof jackets, trousers or similar.

  • Make sure you keep as warm as you can, even if it means adding extra layers.
  • Add a hat, gloves and scarf – although they’re small they can make a huge difference.

#5: Don’t just assume that you can pick up the sport having never tried it before.

  • Have lessons if you’ve never done it before and if you haven’t been on the piste for a while, a few lessons will refresh your memory and polish up your skills.

#6: Wear goggles or polarised sunglasses

  • Because the sun is at such a low point, you can often find yourself unable to see which can be dangerous.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, wear goggles that fit comfortably over them. Alternatively, consider prescription goggles – pricey but they’re worth it.

#7: Take regular breaks

  • When you’re having so much fun, it can be easy to forget to eat or re-hydrate. Take regular snack breaks to stop wearing yourself out.
  • Make sure you reapply sunscreen to any exposed skin on your breaks and remember that the higher you are, the more potent the UV rays from the sun.

#8: Ski/board with a friend

  • Keeping an eye out for each other on the slopes can prove to be safer than skiing or boarding alone. If you disappear or fall, they’ll be first to your aid and can call for help.
  • Going down those slopes at such a pace can be similar to driving – the better your observation, the safer you’ll be.

#9: Know your limits

  • Keep to your skill level on the runs. Green is beginner, blue is intermediate, red is intermediate/advanced and black is advanced.
  • NEVER go off-piste unless you’re advised or authorised to do so by the resort themselves and even then, go with a guide who knows the mountain. Make sure you obey all warning signs, especially during avalanche season.

#10: Carry important documentation and a fully-charged mobile phone with you

  • Including your travel insurance emergency medical helpline number, your policy number and the number of any friends or family in the resort with you so you can call for help if you need it.

#11: Don’t drink and ski or board

  • A glass of wine or beer with a meal is fine, but excess alcohol will slow your reaction time and drastically affect your observation and balance.

#12: Obey the International Ski Federation Rules:

    The following is a summary of the ISF rules, which are now held to be binding in law:

  • RESPECT – Do not endanger others.
  • CONTROL – Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your and to the general conditions on the mountain/ ability
  • ROUTE – The skier/snowboarder in front has priority – leave enough space.
  • OVERTAKING – Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder.
  • STARTING OUT – Always look in every direction before starting.
  • STOPPING – Stop only at the edge of the piste or where you can be seen easily.
  • CLIMBING – Always keep to the side of the piste.
  • SIGNS – Obey all signs and markings – they are provided for your safety.
  • ASSISTANCE – In case of accidents, provide help or alert the rescue services.
  • IDENTIFICATION – All those involved in an accident, including witnesses, should exchange names and addresses.
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