5 Tips for Traveling with Aphasia

In an ideal world, traveling with aphasia would be easy. The front desk staff at every hotel and waitstaff at every restaurant would be well-versed in aphasia. They would know how to communicate patiently, and give customers the time they need to ask questions or give answers.

Since we don’t live in that world (yet), we’ve pulled together a small set of tips for traveling with aphasia.


Traveling with aphasia means doing a little extra research. Get familiar with the TSA’s guidelines for people traveling with aphasia. Print out the TSA’s notification card beforehand and give it to the TSA agent when you get in the security line. The card also contains helpful phone numbers you can use before or during your trip to ask questions.

If you’re driving, plot your route and know where you’re stopping along the way. Have someone speak to the hotel staff before you arrive to make check in easier. Taking a few extra steps before your trip means that travel will be easier during your trip.

Take Some Company

Make your vacation relaxing by taking along someone who can do the majority of the communication work along the way. Navigating the unknown can be stressful, and bringing someone with you ensures that you can unwind.

Write it Out

Think about the various places you’ll go and things you’ll see along the way, and then print out a paper with important phrases you’ll need. Place a simple explanation at the top of the paper about your aphasia, but then write down questions you’d want to ask in the moment or answers you’ll have to give along the way. You may never need this sheet of paper, but it will make things easier if you have the words at the ready.

Order Beforehand

Most restaurants post their menus online. Read the menus before you leave for your trip so you don’t feel rushed in the moment. You can write out what you want to order and show the waiter so you don’t have to find the right words.

Don’t Tire Yourself Out

Travel is not the same as being home, and it’s easy to get exhausted when you’re on the road. Tiredness can affect communication, so make sure you set a reasonable pace for your trip. Even though you may not need any help getting around while you’re at home, use any means necessary to conserve your energy.

What are some other tips you can give for traveling with aphasia?

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash



  • Anonymous
    August 15, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Too tired!!!

  • Kathy Howell
    August 15, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Personally I think it is easier and less stressful to go with an organized travel tour. It takes all the most stressful aspects of a trip out of the equation. No picking hotels or driving. Organized sightseeing. This is from the wife of an aphasia sufferer.

  • Caroline Franco
    August 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    We are planning a big family Thanksgiving in Hawaii this year and my Mom, who has not been to Hawaii before, is eager to go. However, as we talk about the trip, I see that she is very concerned about her aphasia, and how it will impact travel. She has Primary Progressive aphasia, and is keenly aware and frightened of how it is getting worse all the time. One of her loves is travel, so we have talked about her continuing to go and see new places, but we are planning all her trips with family members as of this past spring. She recently went to Rome with my brother and his wife – a life long dream for her – but she really wanted to visit Asissi on her own too. I went online and found a private guide in Asissi (the rate was amazingly cheaper than I thought it would be) and began communicating with the guide- being very candid about my mom’s aphasia and fears. In the end, the guide, Allessandra: suggested and spoke with my mom’s hotel in Assisi- setting up my mom’s stay; found a driver to pick my mom up from the train station and take her back to the station on the return- even helping her get on the right train – {I had pre-purchased the tickets}; and the guide toured with her for two days. My mom said that Assisi was the best part of her trip because everything and everyone was so accommodating and she didn’t have to constantly worry about her aphasia or speak more than she was comfortable. Don’t quit travel! Find work arounds!

  • alexander
    August 15, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I have mild anomic aphasia, it is a nightmare, yeh, pulling up those elusive words, not helped with ‘high frequency hearing loss as well. And as I often do, I recently travelled alone, and passed through Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, and Tel Aviv, Airports. on two back to back trips. Being Scottish, I have the English Lingo, and I find it quite funny, how often, when struggling to engage with the foreign locals, with English, will say to me, do you speak English. They struggle to communicate with me, and I with them, and they take me as being a ‘non english speaking foreigner. Which oddly enough works in my favour, as they mostly take that bit extra effort to help me. Well, as long as I keep calm, and do not panic, with perhaps a ‘machine gun totting’ security gawking at me. Body language is the secret I suppose, especially on the top of the Temple Mount. God bless yah all. Maclorn.

  • Pat Humphrey
    August 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I am a former airport employee. This is all good information. I had trouble yesterday just trying to visit a friend in the hospital. I had not written her name out. You should have seen the strange looks on three faces at the volunteers’ help desk when I could not get words to come out of my mouth.
    If you have a lanyard, you could just put some of your general travel info on one card in a plastic card holder on the lanyard. Travel like one of the unaccompanied minors, take years off your age!!!!

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Wow! My moms aphasia must be worse than most. These tips are for the actual aphasiacs. (Is that a word?)
    My mom can’t travel without me. AT ALL. Drive? No way! Book a room? Not even close.

  • Gill
    August 22, 2017 at 4:55 am

    I Agree with Anonymous, y husband couldn’t go anywhere on his own.
    How do people cope at the opticians when they can’t remember the the names of thee letters….or anything else?

  • Rod
    September 20, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Jenifer (my wife) has non-behavioral PPA, a sub-set of FTD of the Parkinsonism type. The symptoms are the inability to speak, move or make decisions. She is in her 8th year of formal diagnosis. Notwithstanding, we still travel by RV (Motorhome), Cruise and Air. We travel with a CNA caregiver. Some ask why not just put her in a nursing home. We say no to this because we believe Jenifer still receives and understands input from her senses. The fact that she cannot speak or make decisions does not mean she cannot enjoy a sunset or physical touch. While she cannot choose steak or salmon she can tell the taste difference and lets us know (non-verbally) if I have over cooked the steak.

    So we just traveled 1,378 miles (round trip) by RV to get out of Irma’s path from Shell Point (Fort Myers) FL to Orange Beach AL. We could of gone into a shelter at Shell Point, but we turned lemons into lemonade and made an adventure out of the trip. So I say travel as much as you can as long as you can take the support you need with you. It is complicated and can be expensive. On the other hand it is worth it and the additional cost is not that much. The most important ingredient is taking the caregiver with you.

  • Jenny Dautlich
    October 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I flew from the UK to Ecuador, via Madrid, last year and asked the airline for “accompanied” flying. This worked very well. Airline staff took me thro the airport to my flight, and met me on board the aircraft in Madrid to take me to my connecting onward flight. It took all the stress out of travelling.

  • Ingrid Szleifer
    March 20, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    My husband starts most of his interactions stating:
    “I had a stroke. I have aphasia. I have difficulty speaking. Please, be patient.” Everywhere we have traveled people have been kind and slowed down and given him time.
    What’s appalling is the rudeness of TSA officers…
    I won’t even start with the countless stories I have.
    They are horrible!

We'd love to hear your thoughts below! If you have a question for the NAA, we can give you an answer if you write us directly at Please note: inappropriate comments will be moderated.

Your email is never published nor shared.