A successful vacation requires a little extra planning to help mitigate worries and keep you as safe as possible while traveling. This is especially true for seniors and baby boomers who may have health conditions, mobility requirements, or extra needs like daily medications. Even for healthy and able-bodied older adults, erring on the side of caution and preparedness before a trip will always be a win for your health and safety.
According to AARP Research, most Boomers (99%) are expected to take one leisure trip in 2017 and an average of five or more trips throughout the year. This is a significant amount of traveling. You deserve to know how to protect yourself and plan ahead before your next trip to visit family, relax on a cruise, or adventure in a foreign land. Prepare, be alert, and enjoy your golden years.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Health and Medications
First and foremost, before you travel, meet with your primary care doctor to ensure you’re in good health and up-to-date on routine or recommended vaccines, especially if traveling abroad. If you have a pacemaker, or other medical device on the interior or exterior of your body, ask your doctor if it’s safe to go through the metal detector or to be hand-wanded – and if not, make arrangements for an alternative screening method. Get a physician’s statement to help you inform the airport TSA officer of implants and internal medical devices such as implanted steel so you can get through airport security without delay.
Bring enough medication to cover you for your trip, plus a few extra days, in case of delays. To avoid questions at customs or immigration, keep medications in their original, labeled containers and know the generic name for your medication as those generic names may be more recognizable at pharmacies in a foreign country. Bring copies of your prescriptions in case your medication is lost or stolen.
Check Your Insurance Policy
Get peace of mind and protect your health with an insurance policy that will cover you wherever you travel. In general, Medicare does not cover you when traveling outside of the United States, which includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
Get peace of mind and protect your health with an insurance policy that will cover you wherever you travel. In general, Medicare does not cover you when traveling outside of the United States, which includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. here.
Even if you’re traveling within the United States, talk to your health insurance provider about in-network healthcare providers at your vacation destination. Whether you have an HMO, PPO, or POS plan, you could be responsible for paying the total costs out-of-pocket if you happen to seek medical care outside of your network during your trip.
Beware of Travel Fraud and Scams
Most fraud can happen before you even leave for your vacation. Make sure you are dealing with legitimate companies when making travel reservations. Verify the phone number, mailing address, and website URL from companies selling things like airline tickets, timeshares, sightseeing, and sports and religious trips packages. Scammers operate primarily via the internet, email, and phone and try to get money from their victims by making the victims believe they will gain something of personal value. When in doubt, turn to a friend or family member for guidance or research the business through the Better Business Bureau.
Protect Your Cash
If you’re traveling with credit cards, take a few precautions and travel light. Bring only one or two credit cards with you, watch your card when handing it over to make payments, and regularly check your card activity during your trip. Credit cards and ATM or debit cards have made traveler’s checks seemingly obsolete, but they may be useful in certain travel situations. For example, if you’re traveling where ATMs are sparse or your credit card is not accepted, traveler’s checks are a solid option to prevent you from being completely cut off from cash. Even the most isolated destinations are bound to have a bank. Traveler’s checks are safe because if they are lost or stolen you’re able to get a refund or replacement.
Protect Your Belongings
Unfortunately, thieves can be anywhere. Be alert in public and take precautions with your personal items. Opt for a money belt instead of a purse, keep your carry-on between your feet when standing, and don’t hang your bag on the back of your chair when out to eat where you can’t see it. Instead, lift up one leg of your chair, loop the purse strap around it, and let the weight of your body sitting on the chair secure the bag in place.
You might want to consider leaving your more expensive and flashy jewelry at home when you leave for vacation. Be aware of tourist-heavy destinations that can be targeted by thieves and pickpockets. If you choose to take valuables with you, keep them locked in your hotel room safe while away from your room and stay aware of your surroundings when you are wearing your valuables.
Don’t Advertise Your Absence to Strangers
Before your vacation, it’s a great idea to let trusted friends and family know about your vacation and to provide them with your hotel’s contact information in case of an emergency. However, don’t advertise your plans to be away from home to strangers or through electronic communications, including social media. Consider waiting to post your vacation photos until you return. Letting it be known that you will be away from home for an extended period of time puts your home at risk while you’re away.
Make Copies of Documents
Make at least two copies of your passport, driver’s license, Medicare and/or other health insurance cards, and take a photo of your documents on your cell phone. Keep track of your travel tickets and itinerary, boarding passes, and make sure you keep prescriptions and/or physician statements in a safe place.Keep a list of medication names and dosages and include the name, telephone number, email address, and mailing address of your prescribing doctor just in case you need it.
Airlines, cruise lines, and trains typically offer special transportation services via wheelchair for those with accessibility needs. Before you go, request cost-free wheelchair service at every airport origination, connection and arrival location. When making your hotel room reservation, book an accessible hotel room and request a room near an elevator or on the first floor. If meal service is available aboard the airplane or train, advise the reservation system of any special dietary needs.