According to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, increasing numbers of older Americans are traveling outside the country each year. If you’re one of those tourists, it’s crucial that you prepare for your trip beforehand. Since seniors often have different requirements than younger travelers, planning a trip in your golden years requires that you address your changing needs.
Safety and Security
Although travelers of all ages should take the proper precautions when traveling to other countries, older tourists are often targeted by the unscrupulous when away from home. Registering with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a precaution that’s worth taking. Visit the website for the U.S. State Department and fill in the online form. Once registered, you’ll receive important travel information regarding your potential safety in your destination country, make it possible for family or friends to reach you in an emergency and receive help in the event of a natural disaster or local uprising.
Maladies and Medications
When you take medication on a regular basis, it’s important that you have a ready supply on your trip. To ensure that you’re able to get a refill if necessary and to avoid problems at customs, bring all of your prescriptions in their original bottles. Do the same for any supplements that you take. Opt for medical identification bracelets to allow medical professionals to quickly identify medical conditions that you may suffer from. Bring along a supply of hearing aid batteries, contact solution and other pharmaceutical items that you may need and which may be difficult to find at your destination. Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers medical costs for the duration of your trip since Medicare and most medical policies don’t cover the cost of medical expenses incurred outside the United States.
Movement and Mobility
If your mobility is limited or you require assistance getting around, check with your travel agent and hotel staff beforehand about the availability of wheelchairs or mobility scooters. If you use a cane, be sure to take it with you. Not all countries have the same laws regarding individuals with disabilities as does the United States. Check with the embassy of the country to which you plan to travel about their requirements if you need to take a service dog along for the trip.
Criminals and Crime
Since older tourists may attract the attention of criminals eager to take advantage of them, it’s up to you to protect yourself. Avoid traveling in unpopulated areas, particularly after dark. Avoid flashing cash, expensive jewelry and other valuables when in public and lock these items in the hotel safe when venturing out into the streets. Some tourists carry a dummy wallet with a little bit of cash in it that they can surrender if they’re accosted by muggers. If you become the victim of crime, make a report with the local police and obtain a copy for your records as well.
While it’s nice to look forward to a trip abroad with eagerness and anticipation, it simply makes sense to take steps to protect yourself as a senior traveler. Knowing that you’ve done everything you can to provide for your needs and avoid trouble will give you the peace of mind that allows you to make the most of your trip.