Every year more baby boomers retire and when asked about their retirement goals, well over half of all retiring seniors say they want to travel.
Many seniors make the mistake of thinking they can’t afford travel insurance, but actually, there are many plans available for seniors. See our complete review of Senior Travel Insurance for more information.
Here are 10 important tips for seniors planning to travel soon:
1. Choose an appropriate destination
Senior travelers have different risks than younger travelers do and it’s important to manage those risks for your health, your family, and your financial security.
Choose a destination that suits your interests but also your preferred activity level. Some seniors are very active and healthy, and so a bike tour through Italy is not out of the question. Just make sure you understand how many miles you’ll be putting on each day and choose an itinerary that allows for rest days.
2. Check your Medicare supplement plan
Check your medicare supplement plan for travel benefits. Medicare doesn’t pay for medical treatment outside the U.S., so many supplement plans have started adding emergency health care to their coverage.
Before you leave, understand your travel benefits by reading the explanation of coverage for details. If you discover you have limited, or worse no, medical coverage where you are traveling, a travel medical plan can fill the gap.
3. Check your medical evacuation coverage
A medical evacuation can cost as much as $200,000 depending on where you are traveling, how far you have to go to receive treatment, and what medical treatment you need inflight.
Medical evacuation, or Medevac, coverage ensures the coordination and the funds necessary for medical evacuations.
4. Check your repatriation coverage
Repatriation is the coverage necessary to arrange and pay for transporting an insured person’s body home should he or she die while traveling outside the country.
Transporting a body means navigating a complicated system of foreign and local laws plus expenses, so be sure your family has help getting your body back by having a travel insurance plan with repatriation coverage.
5. Arrange to carry your medications
Medications are not always easy to obtain in identical or trusted forms in other countries. Even when traveling domestically, experts recommend that seniors carry some, if not all, their medications with them in case of lost or stolen luggage.
Follow these steps to carry your medications:
- Order a 90-day supply ahead of time through mail order
- Combine the full supply of each medication into a single labeled prescription bottle (to save space)
- Carry a copy of your prescriptions as well – just in case
- Have travel insurance with good travel assistance services in case your medications are lost or stolen
6. Consider a pre-travel medical exam
Before traveling outside the country, you should see your doctor for a pre-travel exam (ideally at least 4 weeks prior to their trip) to:
- Assess your general fitness for travel
- Identify and prepare for any potential medical problems, such as altitude sickness
- Identify and order any potentially necessary vaccinations
- Get prescriptions for diseases you may encounter, like malaria
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or your doctor makes a change in your medication, you will need to purchase a travel insurance plan with a waiver for pre-existing medical conditions.
7. Carry your basic medical info and a travel medical kit
All travelers should carry a personal emergency medical kit – particularly one that meets the needs of the traveler and the medical issues they are likely to encounter at their destination. That travel kit should contain your basic medical info, which includes:
- The name, phone number, and email of your primary doctor
- The name, identification number, and phone number of your medicare supplement plan
- The name, identification number, and phone number of your travel insurance plan
- A list of allergies and medications you’re currently taking
See this travel safety tip: What’s in your Travel Medical Kit for more details.
8. Decide on annual versus per-trip coverage
Seniors who travel often throughout the year may find an annual plan saves them time and money. There are a few benefits to having the same coverage all year long, including:
- Less time researching travel insurance for each trip
- Less time putting together the travel documents for each trip
- One travel assistance hotline to call – all year long
The key, of course, is to look at where you plan to travel and how many trips you’ll be taking during the year to see if the cost savings work to your advantage. This is where using a travel insurance comparison tool is a great help.
9. Determine your cancellation risk
Many senior travelers are loathe to purchase trip cancellation coverage. After all, it can be expensive and you have no intention of cancelling your trip anyway.
Unfortunately, there are certain situations when it can be helpful, including:
- If a member of your family gets sick, injured, or dies
- If a hurricane or natural disaster strikes your destination
- If a terrorist attack occurs at your travel spot
- If your home is damaged or burglarized before or during your trip
- If your passport is lost or stolen before your trip
No one likes to think a disaster like this can happen – especially when you have a trip planned – but they do happen and to ensure you can get all of your pre-paid trip costs refunded, you’ll want trip cancellation insurance.
See What determines my total trip cost for details on what to insure and what to ignore.
10. Getting home may be critical too
Even if you decide you don’t need trip cancellation coverage, it’s important to have a plan with trip interruption coverage. This coverage reimburses you for your unused trip expenses if you have to suddenly abandon your trip and return home (for a covered reason – see #9 above for a list of likely reasons).