Holidaying as someone who is clinically vulnerable

A sandy beach at Bournemouth with a pier and people sunbathing

As a clinically vulnerable person, life has been full of difficult choices since all protective measures have been dropped. When everyone around me is acting as though Covid has gone away and virtually no one is wearing a mask, how as I emerge from shielding, how do I keep myself and others safe when Covid is still a genuine risk to so many of us? In addition, Covid and the rising cost of living has seen disabled people’s access needs and rights being one of the first things to go through cost cutting measures. It feels quite a lonely and isolated place to be as a clinically vulnerable disabled person.

With that backdrop in mind, I was still desperate to see something other than my home or my local park after the latest period of shielding. When it was announced that the Golden Age of Crime (Fiction) conference was being held at Bournemouth University in June, it sounded like the ideal holiday, seeing friends, a few days at the seaside plus doing something I love, geeking about my beloved Agatha Christie. I won’t bore you with the hours I spent agonising over the shall I / shan’t I go, or the number of times I changed my mind. 

The holiday was a very mixed experience. There were a few things that really distressed and challenged me, including the special assistance that didn’t turn up at Bournemouth Railway Station and finding poo in the bed at the Premier Inn Bournemouth Central. If you’re interested in those you can read my Bournemouth Euan’s Guide reviews. However, I want to share with you some of the things that helped me.


The thought of going from 0 (shielding) to 10 (being away on holiday) was daunting. I realised I need to prepare before my trip so I broke it down into small steps, such as increasing the amount of time I was out of my home, using public transport again (this was and continues to be a biggie), etc, and worked my way up until I went on holiday. Breaking it down to manageable chunks made it feel less daunting.


I spent hours exploring the area online from street view maps through to Euan’s Guide reviews, to identify accessible venues and particularly places to dine with outdoor space. Identifying where I would feel comfortable beforehand removed a lot of the stress while I was there. Through this I discovered the charming, welcoming and very accessible Picnic Park Deli tucked away in the delightful Lower Gardens.  

Risk Assessment

I have found that knowing the level of risk, i.e. Covid rates, variants, etc, has really helped me in making informed choices. I would highly recommend Indie Sage’s Friday Youtube briefings. I have set my own protective boundaries, things that I felt personally comfortable doing, such as wearing a FFP2 mask when indoors, and sticking with what is right for me regardless of what other people do. This was really hard at times, as it meant I missed the conference dinner, but I went back to my hotel and had a take-away and an early night. This freed me up to really enjoy the daytime parts of the conference, instead of spending time beating myself up and worrying about the evening.    

The Kindness of Others

I had a total panic when I arrived at the conference venue and didn’t feel I could spend two days sitting with unmasked people. The organisers were fantastic and (with my agreement) they explained the situation to the entire conference and, bar one or two who were exempt, everyone wore masks for two days to help keep me safe. (Thank you.)

Enjoy What You Do

The weather was amazing when I went and it was just so lovely to walk the seafront and enjoy Bournemouth’s gorgeous sandy beach and it was a lot of fun to take the very accessible West Cliff Railway up to see the stunning coastline.

Honestly there were lots of moments when I wished I had stayed at home. Being on holiday I was totally out of my comfort zone. However, on reflection, I’m really glad I did it. I got to spend time with my friends, be at the seaside, things I love doing but which I haven’t had much opportunity to do in the last couple of years. Covid rates are rising again, and I know I will have to shield again in the near future, so I’m very thankful I took the opportunity when I had it.  

Stay safe and well. 

Tags: Voices of COVID, reviewer's story, bournemouth


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