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Senior Travel Health: Tips, Precautions, and Essentials

senior couple with health issues traveling

I have done a large amount of traveling in my life and there were times that I got sick enough during the trip that I had to take advantage of local health resources.

These experiences have taught me the importance of prioritizing health and well-being while exploring the world.

Senior travel health concerns can be managed with proper planning and preparation.

Engaging in new experiences and staying active can contribute to overall well-being. However, it’s crucial to take certain precautions and consider your unique needs as an older adult.

By following these tips and essentials, you can minimize travel-related illnesses and enjoy your journeys to the fullest.

Managing Medications While Traveling

One of the most important aspects of senior travel health is proper medication management.

Before departing, consult with your doctor to ensure you have enough prescription medications to last throughout your trip.

Always carry your medications in their original labeled containers and pack them in your carry-on luggage to avoid loss or damage.

It’s also wise to research the availability of your medications in your destination country.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides valuable information on travel health and can help you determine if you need any additional vaccinations or precautions based on your destination.

Staying Active and Mobile

Staying active during senior travel is another key to maintaining health and reducing the risk of complications.

Whenever possible, incorporate appropriate physical activity into your travel plans.

Take walks to explore new neighborhoods, participate in gentle exercises like yoga or swimming, and don’t hesitate to request special accommodations if needed.

If you have mobility concerns, research your destination ahead of time to ensure accessibility.

Many travel providers offer senior-friendly travel destinations and activities that cater to different levels of mobility.

Don’t let fear hold you back—with proper planning, you can enjoy a wide range of experiences.

Travel Insurance and Healthcare Abroad

Investing in travel insurance is a must for seniors.

Look for policies that cover pre-existing conditions and offer medical evacuation coverage (that way if you are injured, the policy will pay to get you back to your home area).

In the event of an unexpected health issue, having reliable insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection.

TIP: It’s also a good idea to carry a list of your medications, allergies, and medical conditions in case of an emergency.

Before your trip, research the healthcare systems abroad in your destination countries.

Here’s a link to Travel.State.Gov that provides essential information for U.S. citizens traveling internationally.

While not health-related, another website we recommend that you explore before you travel internationally is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you are a United States citizen.

Enrolling with the STEP program allows the State Department to know you’re in a particular county, so they can contact you if an emergency occurs where you are (example: the recent conflict in Israel).

If there is an emergency, the State Department can guide you on areas to avoid, procedures to follow, etc.

Plus, their website says, “And, if your family or friends in the U.S. can’t reach you with urgent news while you’re traveling, we can use the information in STEP to try and contact you.

Packing Essentials for Senior Travelers

When packing for your trip, include essential items that support your health and well-being.

A travel first-aid kit should contain basic supplies like bandages, antiseptic, pain relievers, and any prescription medications you need.

TIP: Remember to pack your medications in your carry-on in case your luggage doesn’t show up at the airport when you do! A pill organizer like this can be very helpful when you are traveling.

Also, don’t forget to pack comfortable, supportive shoes and clothing suitable for the activities you have planned.

I also would recommend some non-slip shoes or slippers to wear when you’re in your hotel room or wherever you are staying.

To combat jet lag and fatigue, consider bringing items that promote relaxation and comfort, such as an eye mask, earplugs, or a travel pillow.

Staying hydrated is crucial, so carry a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of fluids throughout your journey.

My friend’s experience: During a trip to Sicily last year, my friend experienced became very ill with Covid. She was confined to her hotel room and dealt with fever and lethargy for 7 days!

The hotel provided care, even a physician, so she was well taken care of but still, it was miserable!

Thankfully, she invested in a comprehensive travel insurance, which covered her medical expenses and provided support when she needed it most.

This experience reinforces the value of taking precautions and being prepared for any situation.

Remember, healthy aging and travel are not mutually exclusive.

Useful Resources:

  1. AARP (American Association of Retired Persons): https://www.aarp.org/travel/
  2. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – Traveler’s Health: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
  3. TSA (Transportation Security Administration) – Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures
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