International Travel

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Before You Go

Considerations for Older Travelers

As an increasing number of older U.S. citizens are traveling abroad, the U.S. Department of State wants you to be prepared so you can enjoy your trip. Please consider the following information when planning your trip.

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Travel Documents
  • Make sure your travel documents – passports and/or passport cards – have at least six months validity.
  • Check the Travel Advisory for your destination here.
  • Check our Country Information to determine if:
    • you need a visa;
    • you have enough blank pages in your passport for entry stamps;
    • your passport needs to  be valid six months beyond the end of your trip; otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.
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Stay Connected
  • Enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  Your information is stored securely and enables the U.S. Department of State, U.S. embassy, or U.S. consulate to contact you, your family, or your friends in an emergency according to your wishes.
  • Provide a copy of your itinerary, including contact information, for where you will be staying to a friend or family.
  • Manage expectations – if you don’t plan to stay in touch on your vacation, let your family know you will not be in regular contact.   
  • Not all cell phones work abroad.  If you want to have a cell phone with you as you travel, you will need to check your cell phone coverage before you travel.
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Health Information
  • Medical care in foreign countries varies and is often not up to U.S. standards.
  • Medicare does not cover you overseas.
  • You should obtain medical and dental health care insurance that will cover you overseas.
  • Consider obtaining an advance healthcare directive before you travel, but remember that not all countries recognize them.
  • Read more tips related to health issues. You may also find health information at the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
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Pharmacies and Medications
  • Bring an ample supply of medication to cover you for your trip and, if possible, for a few extra days in case there are delays.
  • Have information from your doctor regarding your condition and your medication.
  • To avoid questions or delays at customs or immigration, keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 
  • Know the generic name for your medication as those generic names may be more recognizable at pharmacies in a foreign country.
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Accessibility and Accommodations

For more information, check our section on Traveling with Disabilities

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Beware of Scams
  • Scammers seek to get money from their victims by making the victims believe they will gain something of great personal value (financial gain, a romantic relationship, helping someone in trouble, the safe return of a friend, etc.). 
  • Scammers operate primarily via the Internet, email, and phone. 
  • For more information, please review our information on International Financial Scams
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Prepare for Emergencies
  • Leave emergency contact information and a copy of your passport biographic data page with family and trusted friends. 
  • Carry emergency contact information for your family in the United States with you when you travel (be sure to also pencil it in the emergency contact information section of your passport).
  • Know the contact information for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, available on the Country Information page for each country and on each embassy or consulate’s website, and provide that information to your family and friends. 
  • If there is an emergency situation where you are staying, such as civil unrest, disrupted transportation, or a natural disaster, contact your family and friends as soon as possible. 
  • A secure way to maintain your emergency contact information is to enroll with our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
  • Take careful note of the cancellation policies for your travel and consider purchasing travel and luggage insurance.  Many credit card, travel, and tourism companies offer protection packages for an additional fee.
Last Updated: April 20, 2018

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