What should I consider before taking someone with dementia on a road trip?

Dr. Linda Ercoli, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Road trips can be great because you have a lot of control over where you go, how you travel, the pace of your trip and where you stop. 

Before you go, plan your route. This includes amenities, rest areas and lodging along the way, in case you need to stop. For example, maybe your loved one is tired and you need to get off the road and spend the night.

A few things to consider before taking a road trip with someone who has dementia:

  • Make sure that you are not traveling in isolated areas where there aren't many places to eat or stay. 
  • Stop more often for stretching, for restroom use and for food. 
  • Bring comfort items with you, such as pillows, snacks and music. If you have an iPad or tablet, load up some old movies that your loved one enjoys watching.
  • Definitely allow more time. You're going to need a couple of extra hours with your loved one. Don't expect to go at the same pace. Also, it's great to have a co-driver to switch with, usually about every six hours.  

A big fear—and it does happen—is that your loved one grabs the steering wheel. Maybe that person has never done it before, but there's always a first time. Therefore, it's often recommended that your loved one sits in the back seat while traveling, far away from the steering wheel. It’s also why it’s a good idea to have a second driver with you. 

If you have someone who is impulsive or has a tendency to grab the wheel or wants to jump out of the car while you're driving or parking, then taking a road trip is not a good idea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.