Senior Health and Safety Travel Checklist

Traveling during your retirement years is a great way to explore new cities, try new foods and learn about new cultures without the limits of a set schedule. Wherever you travel, there are a number of health and safety items to keep in mind.

Not only do you need to ensure you pack all of the necessities, you also need to consider things like medical concerns and insurance. The checklist below will assist you in covering all of the details of health and safety so you can focus on a memorable trip.

Packing Checklist

Packing is arguably one of the hardest parts of preparing for a trip, and the list of necessities goes beyond just clothing. The good news is, there’s no need to stress out. We’ve broken up your health and safety packing list into three parts, so you can easily check the items off as you pack.

Medications

Keep in mind: Medications that are common in the United States could be unlicensed or uncontrollable substances in other countries, which could impact your ability to find certain medications. Before you plan a trip abroad, visit Travel.state.gov to see which medications you aren’t allowed to bring into your destination country.

A full supply of prescription medications in their original bottles

You always want to have enough of your prescription meds to cover you in the event that you decide to extend your trip.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

If you’re traveling overseas, it might be difficult to find the same pain relievers you use back home. It’s easier to bring your own and avoid any confusion.

Allergy medication

If you have allergies, especially severe allergies, it’s best to take your medication with you and not try to locate it once you’ve reached your destination. You never know what regulations could prevent you from finding a decongestant or having your EpiPen filled abroad.

Safety Items

List of emergency contacts

Keep a small card of contact names and phone numbers next to your identification. This will ensure you don’t have to rely on your memory during an emergency.

Photocopies of medical information

Make photocopies of medical information, such as insurance cards, allergy lists and a medical history so you can easily give your health care provider all the information they need.

Sunscreen

You’ll likely be able to find sunscreen anywhere you travel, but it doesn’t hurt to toss a travel-size tube in your carry-on just in case.

Other Helpful Items

Notebook and pen

These are useful for jotting down the addresses of local pharmacies and hospitals as well as emergency contact numbers. Plus, it never hurts to write in a journal while you’re on vacation.

Photocopies of travel documents

Make sure you pack copies of other important documents that you would be lost without, such as your passport or visa. If you should lose these important documents, the U.S. State Department provides information on how to navigate the situation.

International SIM card

An international SIM card enables you to use your phone abroad.

Power plug adapter and converter

These items will come in handy for charging electronics and appliances like your cell phone, computer or hairdryer.

Money belt

Instead of carrying your money and valuables in a purse or wallet, consider using a money belt so they stay tucked away under your clothing.

Eye mask and earplugs

Bring an eye mask and earplugs if you’re a light sleeper, especially if you’re sharing a room with someone else.

Extra reading glasses

Consider getting a pair that folds up so you can toss them in your carry-on without wasting extra space.

Language book

If you’re visiting a non-English-speaking country, you’ll want to bring a language book to make sure you can easily ask for directions or impress the locals.

Information on local customs

Be courteous and make sure you understand what behaviors are and are not acceptable in the country you’re visiting. Consider this list of habits that are perfectly normal in the U.S., but can be perceived as offensive in some countries.

Plan in Advance for Medical Needs

Do you have concerns about accessibility or medical conditions on your vacation? Here are some tips and ideas to help you choose a trip that fits your needs:

Wherever you want to go, try engaging with a travel agency that can find and arrange the best accommodations for your needs.

Medical Considerations

See your doctor before you leave

It’s always a good idea to speak with your primary care physician before you travel to a new city or country. If you have a medical condition, you might need their okay to travel. And if you’re traveling abroad, your physician should be able to tell you whether or not you need certain immunizations before you leave.

CDC travel health notices

The CDC provides travelers and clinicians with notices about current health issues in specific areas around the world. These issues could be due to anything from disease outbreaks to natural disasters. Before you plan your next journey, make sure you check out the CDC’s current notices.

Immunizations

Required vaccines vary depending on where you travel, but these are the common vaccine-preventable travel related diseases:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid and paratyphoid fever
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis

Preventing Accidents

Accidents happen. That’s just life. But, here are a few things to do to minimize your risk:

  • Get familiar with traffic laws — Driving in most foreign countries is very different than driving in the U.S. Even if you stay within the U.S., traffic laws, speed limits and traffic lights differ. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road.
  • Take swimming lessons — Whether you’re learning to swim for the first time or could simply use a refresher course, taking swimming lessons before a trip (especially a cruise) can help prevent accidents. Take care to learn about currents and how to react if caught in a rip tide as well.
  • Choose your adventures wisely — Hiking, cycling and diving are popular attractions for travelers, but like with most things, they come with some risk. One in 15,700 people die annually in mountain hiking incidents. One in 140,845 people die annually in biking incidents. And one in 34,400 die annually in scuba diving incidents. Choose adventures that suit your typical activity level and physical abilities, and don’t go adventuring alone.

Insurance Concerns

Make sure you understand your insurance coverage — whether it is through an employer, Medicare or travel agency.

Medicare

If you are covered by Original Medicare, you can travel anywhere within the U.S. and receive medical care from any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare. This includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Medicare typically does not cover medical costs outside of the U.S. and its territories. However, there are a few exceptions, including the following:

There are other ways to get coverage while traveling outside of the U.S., including purchasing travel insurance or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan.

Some Medicare Supplement plans cover 80% of foreign travel emergency costs up to your plan limits. The only caveat is that you can’t purchase a Medigap plan just before you leave for a trip, so make sure you plan ahead.

If you’re unsure if your insurance or Medicare coverage will protect you while traveling, be sure to contact your provider and ask the important questions. If you get your insurance through your travel agency, they will likely be able to answer those questions.

Start Planning!

With this checklist in hand, you’re well on your way to thoroughly preparing for your next big trip. Enjoy your travels, and stay safe and healthy!

Sources

https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=17386
https://travel.state.gov/
http://guideforseniors.com/blog/cruises-for-seniors/
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/TRAVEL/NOTICES
http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/features/travel-vaccines#2
http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/magazine/articles/advice/how-to-stay-safe-and-avoide-travel-accidents?page=all
http://icelandmag.visir.is/article/a-few-tips-about-driving-iceland
http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/hotels/2012/11/15/hotels-carbon-monoxide/1707789/
https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel-need-health-care-outside-us.html
http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/travel-insurance1.htm