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 information when planning your trip.
- Make sure your travel documents – passports and/or passport cards are valid and have not expired.
- Check to see if there is a Travel Warning or Travel Alert for your destination.
- Check our Country Information to determine if:
- you need a visa;
- you have enough blank pages in your passport for entry stamps;
- your passport will be valid six months beyond the end of your trip, or some countries maynot let you enter.
- Enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Your information is stored securely and enables the 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.
- Medical care in foreign countries varies and is often not up to U.S. standards.
- Medicare does not cover you overseas.
- We highly recommend that you obtain medical and dental health care that will cover you overseas.
- We also recommend insurance.
- Consider obtaining an advance healthcare directive before you travel but note that not all countries recognize them.
- For more tips related to health issues, visit our website. You may also find health information at the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
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.
- Determine whether you should try to exchange currency before you travel abroad.
- Understand the currency rates at your travel destination.
- Know whether or not credit cards are readily accepted and if traveler’s checks can be cashed and plan accordingly.
- Make sure your credit card company knows you will be traveling abroad so they do not freeze your accounts.
- Read the Crime section of the Country Information for the countries you will visit to review the ATM scams and other financial scams that may be targeting foreign visitors. If ATM service is not widely available or is not secure, bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead of planning to use cash. Many banks in most countries will issue cash advances from major credit cards.
Accessibility and Accommodations
- For more information, check our section on Traveling with Disabilities. Beware of Scams
Beware of Scams
- Scammers intend 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.
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, prevent undue worry or concern by contacting 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.
Learn About Your Destination
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.