If you’re thinking about having a holiday, either with the person you look after or apart from them, whether a night or two or longer, planning is key. We’ve put this guide together to give you some tips about things to consider, financial help that may be available or ways to make savings. We have tried to cover options to suit a range of caring situations, holiday types and budgets. If you have anything to share, please get in touch.
We have put together the information in response to our 2022 survey with current and former carers who are registered with us as just over half (56%) said they felt they were unable to have a sufficient break from caring. However, there are many benefits to having a break – you may feel recharged and you or the person you care for may benefit from new experiences, a change of scene and routine, and meeting other people.
Camping, caravanning or motorhomes: Many sites have facilities and adaptations for wheelchair users and people with other impairments. You can travel by car rather than public transport, pick somewhere quiet if you or the person you care for cannot cope with busy places and have camping routines, which can be important for people with learning disabilities or an autism spectrum condition who like familiarity. You could even have a test run camping in your or a friend or relative’s garden.
Hotels and package holidays: From budget hotels to five-star resorts there are a range of options. You can get in touch with providers to find out if the rooms or facilities meet the needs of everyone in your party or discuss any assistance or requirements you have.
June, who has been a carer for 30 years and has two adult sons with autism spectrum disorders, said: “We have had regular holidays at the Campanile hotels in France as we can drive to them and the layout, décor and menu are similar at each hotel, which helps my sons feel relaxed and reduces the chance of them having meltdowns due to changes in their routine and environment!”
Cruises: These are often an all-inclusive holiday as meals and entertainment are provided with staff on hand to provide assistance. Ships usually have a range of rooms including accessible ones, and there are cruises that set off from the UK as well as abroad.
Jan, who took her late husband who had dementia on a couple of cruises, said: “At the time my husband couldn’t talk, was in a wheelchair and incontinent, but I wanted to take him away for his 70th birthday. Someone suggested a cruise so I looked into it and booked a disabled cabin. We did a short cruise around the UK first and then a longer Mediterranean one. They were great holidays, we both enjoyed them. I got some rest as there was no cooking or cleaning to do and the staff were helpful. They gave us priority boarding, unloaded the car, got my husband onto the ship and delivered our luggage safely to our room. The staff also helped me by providing extra equipment for the shower so I could ensure our safety and the catering staff prepared suitable purified meals for my husband and arranged mealtimes so we could take it in turns to eat without the food getting cold as I had to support my husband with eating. If you want to explore places at a relaxed pace, taking plenty in but with no frantic rushing and be well looked after, I’d recommend going on a cruise.”
Holiday home rentals: You can pick somewhere to suit your needs and have privacy as you won’t need to share the accommodation with people other than the family, friends or people you are holidaying with.
Jan said: “My son needs 2 to 1 support and we have booked a return break to a holiday home in Norfolk five years after our last holiday. We are taking four paid carers, three will stay in the house with my son and one, who covers the nights, will stay nearby, as will my husband and I. It has taken a lot of planning, but it is worth it seeing my son enjoying the freedom of running along the beach.”
A break without the person with care needs: If you can’t leave the person you care for on their own and don’t have family or friends that can help, you may be able to organise home care or short-term respite. Your local social services should be able to advise you on what is available near you and how to access support.
Diane who cares for three generations with various health conditions and needs – recently had a two-night getaway with her fiancé to a rural treehouse lodge in Kent, thanks to our Make a Difference service. Diane, who has had a caring role for seven years, said: “We had to do a lot of planning, arranging for the children to stay with a relative and for my siblings to be there for our parents, but it was nice to have a break and a digital detox. We came home feeling refreshed and ready to continue with our caring role – meetings, health appointments, applying or reapplying for benefits and more!”
Specialist holidays: There are organisations that provide or signpost to specialist holidays for people with various needs such as a physical disability or dementia (some examples are below). The accommodation and activities are designed to meet the needs of the person you care for. They may even provide respite care so you can have time to yourself.
Dementia Adventure: provides group and supported holidays for people with dementia and memory loss and their families/carers. www.dementiaadventure.org/holidays or email email@example.com or call 01245 237548 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday except bank holidays).
Disabled Holidays: Lists suppliers in the disability travel industry. www.disabledholidays.com or call 0161 804 9898. 0161 260 0224.
Enable Holidays: Helps people with disabilities or care needs and their relatives / carers find, plan and arrange a holiday to suit their individual needs. www.enableholidays.com or call 0330 380 6800.
Holiday Homes Trust: Is a small charity that own self-catering caravans that they rent out at affordable prices to people with disabilities and their families / carers. There are 10 caravans and 8 are wheelchair accessible. www.holidayhomestrust.info email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8433 7290.
Revitalise: a national charity providing short breaks and holidays (respite care) for disabled people and carers. www.revitalise.org.uk or call 0303 303 0145.
The Calvert Trust: Delivers UK-based outdoor adventure holidays for disabled adults and children and their families. www.calvert-trust.org.uk or contact a centre directly Exmoor 01598 763221 Kielder 01434 250232 Lake District 01768 772255.
Tourism for All: A national charity supporting people in finding accessible holidays in the UK. www.tourismforall.org.uk or call 0845 124 9971.
• Research and plan, but be flexible and have a back-up plan too! Think about what you want from a break, including whether you need accessible accommodation and research the transport options, particularly if travelling with someone with a wheelchair, limited mobility or specific health needs or equipment. You may need to contact companies in advance to organise assistance or discuss requirements.
Be ready for the unexpected and to change plans.
• If you can’t get away consider day trips instead.
• Ensure you have suitable travel insurance.
• Consider where the nearest hospital is and how to contact emergency services, particularly if you are going away with someone who may need medical care.
• Make sure you have enough and if it requires refrigerating, check there are facilities for this. If travelling abroad find out what is allowed into any countries you are visiting or passing through.
• You can have a four-week break in any 26-week period and still be paid Carer’s Allowance if you receive this (although other criteria apply with regards to getting this benefit).
• If the person you care for isn’t going away with you, make sure whoever is supporting them has information about their likes and dislikes, routines, services they use, the medication they take and emergency contacts.
• If you’d love a break but money is an issue or you are not sure about going away with the person you look after could someone else go with you – a friend or relative or someone else you know who wants to take the person they care for away? You could then share the care and costs and perhaps give each carer some ‘me time’.
Help with costs
If the cost of getting away is a problem, there are charities and organisations that provide grants or offer free or low-cost holidays. Some accept self-referrals and others need services or organisations like Carers in Hertfordshire or a health professional to refer.
If you have our Carers’ Passport you can get discounts on holidays with Butlin’s, Haven Holidays, Warner Hotels and Champney’s (spa breaks). Learn more on our Carers’ Passport offers page or call us.
There are also online offers and discount providers, such as Vouchercloud (www.vouchercloud.com) or Discounts for Carers, a provider of savings and offers for family and paid carers – https://discountsforcarers.com
Organisations providing help to self-referrers
3H Foundation: Provides subsidised group holidays for people with disabilities without their family carers. The charity also awards grants towards UK based holidays (criteria applies). www.the3hfoundation.org.uk Contact: email: email@example.com or call: 01892 860207 (9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday).
After Umbrage: Has a holiday cottage in Bath that is offered free to people caring for a relative or someone close to them with a life-limiting or terminal illness and to bereaved carers in the first year after the death of the person they looked after. Learn more at www.afterumbrage.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Carefree: Gives carers access to breaks in hotels and holiday cottages throughout the UK, helping accommodation providers fill empty rooms. For people aged 18 or over providing unpaid care for 30+ hours a week and able to arrange alternative care. There is no charge for the accommodation, but you are responsible for the £25 admin fee and other costs such as transport, food and travel insurance. Find out more at www.carefreespace.org/take-a-break email email@example.com or call 020 3137 2578.
Disability Grants: If you or the person you support has a disability you can find out about grants for holidays and more at www.disability-grants.org/holiday-grants-carers.html or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hertfordshire Convalescent Trust: Provides Hertfordshire residents on a low income and with a physical or mental illness in the family grants for respite or holidays (criteria applies). You can apply direct or via an organisation supporting you or the person with the illness or disability. Learn more at https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/grant/the-hertfordshire-convalescent-trust-14567 or email email@example.com or call 01992 505886 (07731 403096).
The Respite Association: Provides free week-long seaside holidays to unpaid family carers and funding for respite care. www.respiteassociation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01566 783383.