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  • Writer's picturePenn FTD Center

Traveling with FTD

By: Quinn Hlava, Clinical Research Coordinator


As your loved one progresses, you may feel that you can no longer travel with them as travel has become too difficult. Traveling can be an overwhelming experience for someone with FTD. It’s a new environment with lots of new stimuli for them to get distracted by. While traveling may look different, it isn’t impossible!

It may be helpful to travel with additional care partners, especially if your loved one has increased wandering behaviors. It is also important to plan for extra time when traveling to avoid missing your flight or train.



Within the United States, TSA has resources available to help those suffering from dementia. It’s important to inform the TSA officer that your traveling companion has a form of dementia and they may require extra assistance during the screening process. Don’t be afraid to tell the TSA officer the best way to interact with your loved one, especially if it is necessary to touch them during the screening process.  If you think that your loved one may struggle with getting through regular TSA screening, the TSA Cares program is a good option. This program is designed to assist travelers who may need additional assistance with screening. Through TSA cares, you can receive the services of a TSA Passenger Support Specialist who can help you through the security screening. This individual is someone who has received specialized training to support people who need additional screening assistance.


·      To request this assistance, you should contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours prior to your departure. This request can be made through this link or by calling (855) 787-2227.

· This link provides more information about TSA’s special procedures. Under “Please choose a situation to see more information” select “Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Aphasias, Brain Injury.”

· This link provides more information about the TSA Cares program.



Amtrak offers accessible travel services to provide individuals with accessibility accommodations. These accommodations include any reasonable modification that will make traveling easier on individuals with disabilities and their travel companion. In terms of traveling with FTD, this may mean boarding the train earlier or getting assistance from Amtrak staff to get your loved one on and off the train safely.


· This link provides more information about Amtrak accessible travel services.



Once you sit down, your loved one may become anxious and frustrated. It may be helpful to have soundproof headphones with their favorite music to help them avoid becoming too overstimulated. Bringing some of their favorite activities from home can help to keep them entertained during the trip. You can always reach out to your clinician and discuss medications that may help keep your loved one calm during travel.



During travel, making an effort to maintain routines can reduce your loved one’s anxiety. Eating dinner and going to bed at the same time that you usually would at home can help your loved one adjust to a new environment. To maximize fun and comfort for all during activities like sight-seeing, checking in ahead of time to see if those businesses offer any accommodations that would assist you may be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from staff. It may also be helpful to make an itinerary for your loved one. This way, they can always know where and when you will be going.


Traveling with your loved one with FTD will look different from before, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By anticipating the differences and preparing for them, you can reduce stress and maximize time spent creating memories and engaging in fun activities together. 




·      The AFTD has created “awareness cards” for patients diagnosed with FTD and their care partners. These handy cards can help alert the public (servers, receptionists, law enforcement officials, etc.) that your or your loved one’s language abilities and behavior may be altered due to disease.



·      The AFTD also has a plethora of other helpful resources:




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