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.

  • Travel safe. Travel smart. Travel well.

     

    Travel safe. Travel smart. Travel well.

Stay Connected

There are a number of ways to receive updates of our safety and security information.

Consider Medical Insurance

Before you go, consider your insurance options. Medicare does not cover medical costs overseas.

Beware of scams

U.S. citizens can become victims of scams at home or abroad. There are many different types of scams, but they all share a common goal: monetary gain for the scammers.

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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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Health & Medical Information

  • Medicare does not cover health care overseas.
  • Consult with your physician six to eight weeks prior to your travel overseas to allow time for required vaccinations.
  • Many companies offer short-term health and emergency assistance policies to cover health care expenses overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
  • We highly recommend obtaining health insurance that covers emergency medical and dental treatment abroad, as well as medical evacuation to the United States.
  • 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

  • If you routinely take prescription medication, be sure to pack an ample supply for your trip, and discuss with your doctor any adjustments to your medication schedule if you change time zones – both on the way out and on the way home.
  • 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.
  • Check with the Embassy or Consulate of the country you plan to visit to ensure that your medications are not considered illegal substances under local laws.
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Accessibility

If you have mobility difficulties or use a wheelchair, determine what the access and accommodations are for swimming pools, public facilities, restaurants, bars, bathrooms, and other public spaces. 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. Do not disclose personal details or send money to someone overseas if you have not met in-person.
  • For more information, please review our information on International Financial Scams. Information on scams common in your destination country can also be found in each country’s country information page on our website.

 

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Financial Information

  • Inform your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling overseas so that they do not freeze your account. Ask if your bank has any international banking partners where you can safely deposit or withdraw funds as needed.
  • If ATM service is not widely available or not secure, bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead. Many banks in foreign countries will issue cash advances from major credit cards.
  • Review the crime section of the country information on our website to see if there are any financial or ATM scams in the country you plan to visit.
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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

 

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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.

 

Last Updated: October 19, 2018