Before You Travel Overseas

Traveling overseas is a large part of popular retirement living, and can be an exciting adventure that allows you to connect with other cultures, people and experiences.  Thoughtful preparation before you leave will make the trip more enjoyable with fewer headaches, a favorable perk when it comes to retirement travel.

  1. Check to make sure your passport is up to date.  If you need to get a passport for the first time, go to the State Department website for an application and find the nearest passport acceptance facility location.  You will need to present the application, proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate) and a photo I.D. (driver’s license).  You will also need two 2” X 2” color photographs.
  2. Check to see if you will need a visa to travel to your destination.  For Visa information and application, check with your travel agent, tour company, or PVS International which provides a list of countries that require visas.
  3. Get vaccinations if you are traveling to exotic locations.  Contact the Centers for Disease Control for information about vaccination requirements and recommendations for specific locations. Elderly travel can be easily compromised by health concerns in other countries.
  4. Travel for seniors can be slightly more difficult due to medical complications, so make sure you have adequate medications for the duration of your trip.  This should include both prescription and over the counter medications.  On the chance you need to get a prescription filled in a foreign country, ask your pharmacist for the generic drug name for your medications.  Also carry a prescription for your eyeglasses.  Keep your prescriptions in their original containers. 
  5. Make two copies of your important papers.  This would include copies of your medical prescriptions, medical history, passport, tickets, traveler checks, credit cards and visas.  Carry one set of copies with you stored in a separate location from the originals.  Leave the second copy with a friend or family member you can contact if needed.
  6. If you have special health concerns, have a list of your medications, dosage, and your physician’s contact information.  Also include health insurance information, drug allergies, blood type and emergency contact information. It is crucial for the senior population to realize the importance of taking these steps before traveling overseas.
  7. Remove any unnecessary paper from your wallet, purse or luggage.  You might want to consider buying a wallet and purse just for traveling.  It should contain your driver’s license if you will be driving a vehicle, but not necessary otherwise, a credit card, ATM, traveler’s checks, contact information for the United States and where you’re traveling.
  8. In light of the economic troubles these days, travel can be a tricky affair due to financial complications. Check your insurance company to find out if you have a travel clause covering you for loss of luggage or personal injury.  You might also have coverage through your credit card company.  Verify what type of medical coverage you will have overseas if you have private medical insurance. Remember that Medicare doesn’t cover any expense outside of the United States.
  9. Consider travel protection that will reimburse you for travel expenses if you have to cancel or postpone your trip.  It can be purchased through travel agents and tour companies. Retirement life can be made extremely difficult if reimbursement is overlooked.
  10. If you are going to be traveling to underdeveloped countries, consider taking small gifts for children.  Refrain from handing out candy or money, which encourages begging.  Instead, take balloons, pencils, used tennis balls or small books. Generosity is an amicable trait that makes life for seniors more fulfilling.

Many of the items listed here can be done once and then reviewed before you travel.  Many of these tasks seem to take the glamour out of retirement travel. However, if you ever need any of the information while abroad, you will be glad you took the time to adequately prepare for you trip. Peace of mind is the key to happy retirement. 

About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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