Travelling after a Concussion

If you have long distance travel planned after having a concussion, the experience can be daunting - but it's not impossible.

As long as you have not been medically restricted from travel, you don't need to cancel your plans but should be aware that travel can be gruelling and can cause your symptoms to increase. 

Travelling by car, bus, train or plane and navigating busy transport hubs (like airports and train stations) takes some effort, strategizing and planning.

Below are some tips to help you travel more smoothly:


ten Tips for Travelling after a concussion

  1. Take lots of breaks: plan your rest stops and breaks ahead of time.  If you're driving make sure you pull over for a rest as often as you need.
  2. Give yourself more time: budget to take up to 2 times longer to do everything on your trip.  Get to the airport or station earlier than you normally do, get checked in online, and give yourself more time to navigate overall.
  3. Find / make a quiet space: transport hubs like airports tend to be busy, noisy places.  Seek out the quietest space you can find which might be the bathroom, or looking out a window.
    • Make your own quiet space by using ear plugs or noise reducing headphones/earbuds, and bring a sleep mask with you or find somewhere you can safely close your eyes.
  4. Travel light: pack just a single carry on so you don't need to worry about navigating baggage check or retrieving a lugging around a large suitcase.
  5. Prep for security: put your belt, wallet, phone and other things in your bag. Wear shoes that slip on an off easily and don't wear a jacket. This way you can breeze through security without scrambling for all of your things.
  6. Let people know: disclose to the staff (at the airport for example) that you're recovering from a brain injury. They may be able to provide some assistance and help. At very least they won't be suspicious of your strange behaviour...
  7. Ask for help and accomodations: don't be afraid to ask for help even if you don't think you need it.  For example, you might be able to have assistance to get through security, board the plane or train first before other passengers, or get access to a quiet space or lounge.
  8. Use your travel buddy wisely: if you are travelling with friends or family, make sure you pre-plan how they can best help you.  Encourage them to give you space, not ask too many questions, and not to put added stress on you. Have them communicate for you when needed, and help you self regulate.
  9. Consider medications: if you are prone to dizziness and nausea, or anticipate a lot of anxiety during travel, consult with your doctor on medications that can help these symptoms.
  10. Adjust your plans: just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you can do everything you planned to do comfortably.  All activities take some energy, and even sitting on the beach can provoke symptoms. Be kind to yourself and don't overload your days with sightseeing and social time unless you can tolerate it.  Avoid going on a bender, and keep substance use to a minimum...