This publication helps with arrangements for ‘final journeys’, and for those who would like to take a holiday when seriously ill - making the planning of journeys abroad easier for everyone.

This publication is aimed at health professionals but patients and the public may also find it useful.


Download Flying home: helping patients to arrange international travel.

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About this publication


With the advent of more global movement of people, there are more patients with advanced illness who want to make significant journeys. Palliative care services are being increasingly asked by patients and families about travelling abroad or flying home for the final time to a special place or country of their birth. Travel arrangements for very sick patients are complicated and often need to be made at short notice. This can be very stressful for the patients, carers and healthcare professionals involved.

Each case is unique as individuals’ circumstances and local resources vary enormously. However, with careful planning, it is possible for many seriously ill patients to travel comfortably and safely and achieve special goals. 

This publication was originally written to help with arrangements for ‘final journeys’. However, much of the information also applies to those who would like to take a holiday when seriously ill. We are braver in supporting patients to identify their goals when time is short and foreign travel often appears in ‘bucket lists’. 

’Flying home’ is written in the hope that it will make the planning of journeys abroad easier for everyone. The practical anxieties of health professionals can act as barriers to people flying at the end of life, which can cause significant delays. Travelling is exhausting, even for those who are fit and well, and it can be stressful emotionally and physically for those in the advanced stages of illness.

This guide aims to allay many of those anxieties and ensure that stresses are minimised. It cannot cover all illnesses, complications, airlines and countries but the combination of general guidance, specific resources and checklists should answer most questions. Regulations are subject to change, so always check with airlines and relevant organisations for the latest updates. 

The key audience for this publication is health professionals but patients and the public may also find it useful.

Lead author

  • Dr Kathryn Myers, Consultant in Palliative Medicine

Hospice UK project leads

  • Dr Ros Taylor MBE, Palliative Physician
  • Melanie Hodson, Information Specialist


We would like to thank the patients and families who have shared their stories and experiences with us, and colleagues within the NHS and the travel industry for invaluable practical advice.

We are grateful to the National Garden Scheme for supporting the production of this publication so that it can remain free to patients and healthcare professionals.

© 2017 Kathryn Myers

Published by Hospice UK in September 2017. First published in 1997.