International travel during your golden years can be one of the best adventures of your lifetime. Unlike traveling decades earlier, you don’t need to worry about using vacation time or returning to work after a relaxing getaway. Given the time and money involved in international travel, maybe you never had the chance until now. While traveling by air, land, or sea can open your mind to a whole new world of opportunities, it’s important to stay safe while traveling. Here are some safe travel tips when traveling abroad:
Have the Right Documents
When traveling abroad, you need to have the proper travel documents to legally enter and exit countries. If you’ve never had a passport book or passport card, you should apply for one as soon as you make your travel plans. Keep in mind that passport cards cannot be used for air travel. If you already have a passport, but haven’t traveled in a while, make sure it’s not expired. Although it can take around 6 weeks to process a passport application, it’s recommended to apply at least three months in advance.
Consider Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a good idea for any traveler, but especially for older travelers. If you are afraid of running out of medication while on vacation or falling down and getting hurt, travel insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to make you a little safer.
Travel to Safe Places
The U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs, strongly recommends that travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (formerly known as “Travel Registration” or “Registration with Embassies”). By enrolling in the free program, travelers will be given traveling tip, including Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. With this important information, a traveler can avoid certain areas or cancel travel plans. The program makes it easier for travelers to receive quick and accurate assistance during an emergency or if a passport is lost or stolen. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program assists with contacting family, in the U.S., if an emergency occurs during travel.
Bring Technology to Stay Connected
Even if you’re not tech savvy, it’s a good idea to bring a mobile device (such as a cellphone) to stay connected or to check in with friends and family. Before packing up your technology, whether it be an iPad, cellphone, or your medical management system, make sure it will work if traveling overseas. Additionally, before you leave, make sure your adult children or someone else knows about your travel plans, other important details, and your plan of action in the event of an emergency, illness, or even death while traveling.
Pack Light, Dress Appropriately
When traveling, it’s always a good idea to pack light. Remember, the more you take, the more you need to keep track of or may have stolen. Bring the essentials and keep valuables at home. When touring the historic narrow, cobblestone streets, make sure you wear comfortable footwear with good tread and a low heel. Don’t wear any clothing or footwear that will increase your chances of slipping, falling, or getting hurt while travel. Nothing cuts a once-in-a-lifetime trip like an injury or illness.