Traveling With A Brain Injury


My first big trip after my TBI was 3 years post accident, and I was terrified. Traveling is exhausting for a normal person, so it’s 10 times more exhausting for someone with a brain injury. Dealing with symptoms of a brain injury is all about finding what strategies work for you.

This spring, I traveled to France for a total of 14 days and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. It was my first time in Europe and I learned a lot traveling to Europe with a brain injury. Here are the 10 biggest things I learned from this trip.

1.     Plan:

Planning your itinerary before the trip is the number 1 advice I have. Spacing out activities is helpful so you have time to rest. Maybe plan nothing for the day you get in and something easy for the next day. Take it easy at the start so you can adjust to jet lag. Traveling to Europe is a fast paced vacation, but it doesn’t have to be.

2.     Spend on comfort:

·      Buy the extra legroom on the plane. Long flights suck for anyone, the extra few bucks for that comfort for 7, 8 or even 12 hours is the one thing I wouldn’t go without. 

·      Stay in a hotel. Having a quiet room is a must have for rests when traveling.

·      First class train tickets. Trains in Europe are extremely bumpy and horrible for someone with motion sickness. Spend the extra 20 euros and get a seat in a first class car. Your ride will be so smooth you won’t even know you’re on a train.

·      Cabs. Public transportation drains a lot of energy for me. Cabs in Europe are inexpensive, easily accessible and they’re everywhere on city streets. So avoid the mental drain of subways, streetcars and busses by opting for a cab instead.

3.     Tours:

Private tours are a good option for someone traveling with a brain injury. It’s more intimate and the less people around the better. Half-day tours are also an option.

4.     Flying:

My best advice is a good pair of noise canceling headphones & eye mask. Also avoid alcohol on the plane.

5.     Breaks:

Jet lag is the worst. Having never traveled to a time difference of longer than 2 hours, the 6-hour difference will affect anyone. As mentioned in tip #1, plan breaks into your trip. Every day I had 2-3 breaks and some included a nap.

6.     Alcohol:

Wine is A LOT stronger in Europe. I’m not a big drinker, but on vacation it’s hard to say no to European wine. For some reason I was never hung-over after a glass of wine with dinner. If I have a glass of 12% wine in North America, I’m hung-over for a few days. In Europe, I woke up feeling fine. 

7.     Coffee:

The coffee is Europe is also A LOT stronger than North America. Instead of a mug of coffee, they’ll give you an espresso shot by default, which packs a massive punch. My first cup had my shaking for half a day. Start slow with it if you’re not used to espresso.

8.     Walking:

Having never been to Europe, the last thing I was thinking about was the cobble stone sidewalk. I didn’t realized how slippery they would be, and as a result, I was constantly looking down and focusing on not slipping. What helped was a good pair of running shoes and not rushing around. You can’t change the way the sidewalks are built, so just take your time.

9.     Communicate with your travel companion:

Make sure to travel with someone you trust and who knows your situation. You need to communicate with them when you need a rest.


Traveling with a brain injury doesn’t need to be a scary thing. If you plan for it, take your time and rest you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the full experience. Where are you traveling to in the new year?