Travel Safety Tips for Retirees
It’s a fact: retirees in America are on the go! More than 60% of baby boomers expect their retirement to include travel.1 That’s because retirement is a great time to take that beachside getaway, the weekend camping trip with your grandkids, or the European adventure you’ve been dreaming of! But sometimes, destinations require extra planning, including learning a few of the local customs and taking extra safety precautions. If you’re planning an adventure, make sure you take into account these travel safety tips.
Travel Safety Tips: Before Your Trip
Planning a trip is half of the fun! You can choose where to stay, what landmarks to see, what restaurants to visit, and what excursions you simply must experience. As you map out these stops, take a few simple precautions to help keep your mind at ease while you’re traveling. Here are a few travel safety tips you can take care of before you leave home.
Tip 1: Research your destination
When you research when, where and how you’ll travel, there are fewer surprises along the way. Here are a few ways you can prepare:
- Read reviews on where to stay, places to eat, and things to do. Websites like Yelp are helpful if you need a starting point.
- Check the news in your destination for safety risks, new laws, or weather concerns that you may want to keep in mind. You can also check the U.S. State Department’s site for travel safety advisories, notifications, and information.
- Talk to friends and family for recommendations based on their experiences. Maybe you’ll find out about a great passport holder or luggage lock that you can use on your trip!
- Check out the areas around your hotels and the attractions you plan to see. Pay close attention to any areas you may want to avoid. You can use Neighborhood Scout for more safety information on the place you’re traveling to. Remember: hotel star ratings in other countries may not be the same as the U.S. standards you’re used to.
- Download a translation app or bring a translation guide. That way, you’ll have some help if your destination’s primary language is different than your own. You can also try tools like Google Translate to help.
Tip 2: Prep your home for when you’re away
Don’t let your absence be an open invitation for prowlers. There are things you can do to help your house stay secure when you’re out of town:
- Leave a porch light on, a car in the driveway, or consider adding a timer to an inside light to make your house look occupied.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your home or pets while you travel. Don’t forget to bring them back a souvenir to say thank you.
- You can also arrange for someone to get your mail and take your garbage cans to and from the curb on trash day.
Tip 3: Leave a copy of your itinerary and contact info with loved ones
Loved ones may need to reach you in case an emergency happens. Here’s how you can plan:
- Leave a copy of your travel plans with a trusted loved one at home. This way, someone can know where you’re staying, and what your flight or driving route looks like.
- Remember to leave both your hotel phone numbers and cell phone numbers for your family or friends back home. This is especially important if you’re traveling overseas without an international calling plan.
Tip 4: Make a copy of your driver’s license or passport
It’s good to be prepared in case your bags are lost or stolen, or in the event you fall victim to a pick-pocket. Here are two back-up ID plans:
- Make a photocopy of your ID and store it securely at home or with loved ones. The last thing you want is a misplaced license or passport derailing your trip.
- Take a clear photo of each ID, and then send the images to your personal email account. That way, they’re accessible on any computer with your email login.
Tip 5: Learn your Medicare coverage areas
Are you covered if you get sick on your vacation? Know before you go!
|Type of coverage||Domestic travel||Foreign travel|
|You’re covered nationwide – as long as the health care provider accepts Medicare.||Original Medicare will not cover you overseas. You’ll need a secondary health insurance plan for coverage.|
|You’re covered as long as you’re in a Medicare Advantage service area. Call your Medicare provider beforehand to double check.||Some Medicare Advantage plans include health care coverage abroad. You’ll need to ask your Medicare provider when choosing a plan.|
|There are 10 standardized Medicare supplement insurance plans in 47 states. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts have different standardized plans. Check with your Medicare provider if you plan to go to one of these states.||Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) plans are typically the best plans for travelers. Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N provide emergency foreign travel health care coverage in some form.|
Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan)
|You’re covered as long as you’re in a Medicare Part D service area. Call your Medicare provider beforehand to double check.||Medicare Part D will not cover any prescription drugs you may need while you’re abroad. Make sure to pack back-up bottles of your medications before you go!|
- Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) most likely will not cover health care services in foreign countries. If you’re admitted to the hospital outside the U.S., you’ll probably have to pay your own medical costs out of your pocket.
- Some Medicare Advantage and most Medicare supplement plans include health care coverage while you’re abroad. Check to see if your coverage includes foreign travel emergencies.
Tip 6: Bring your prescriptions, and back-up bottles just in case
Do you rely on medication? You may not be able to refill it during your trip — so plan in advance!
- Pack more doses than you think you’ll need for any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Pack your medication in both your carry-on luggage and your suitcase. If the airline loses your bag, if you forget a suitcase, or if you accidentally drop a pill down the sink, you’ll have back up.
- Did you know the TSA will allow you to bring necessary medication onto your flight in a carry-on bag? The TSA website provides more information on making sure you don’t have problems getting your medication on your flight.
Tip 7: Guard important items against fraud and theft
Fraud and theft can happen anywhere. These tips can help in case they strike while you’re away.
- Print your car rental receipt, plane tickets, and other receipts. If you planned to use a travel app but your phone gets stolen, you’ll have a printed copy to use as a backup.
- Add security alerts to you credit card accounts, and make sure to let your bank or the credit card company know when and where you’ll be traveling. This will help guard against suspicious activity. It will also help make sure your accounts stay active when you use your card in a new and unfamiliar location. The last thing you want is to be far from home without access to your bank accounts!
- Look up and save the emergency contacts for your airline, bank, credit card company, and travel support agencies – like AAA. Many institutions have specific numbers for domestic vs. foreign travel, and you’ll want them handy in case of emergency.
Travel Safety Tips: During Your Trip
You’ve looked forward to this trip for months! When the day to travel finally arrives, keep these travel safety tips in mind.
Tip 1: Keep your valuables protected
- Use in-room safes or lockers to store your jewelry, money, IDs or electronics.
- While TSA or foreign customs may not allow you to keep luggage locked as it travels, you can still lock your bag after you arrive at your hotel. Consider packing your own luggage lock and key!
- Buy a money belt or a purse/bag with slash-proof straps to store your money and IDs as you’re sightseeing.
Tip 2: Be cautious how you post about your trip
If your social accounts are public, or if you’re not too sure who follows your accounts, it pays to be cautious as you post.
- Over 78% of burglars are using social media to find their targets,2 so be aware of how much information you’re sharing online while you’re away. Even just a few pictures of your fun cruise in the Bahamas may invite opportunity for your home to be burglarized.
- Thieves are using social media more and more to choose victims. Wait to post your pictures at the beach, of delicious local meals, and other fun vacation activities until after you arrive back home. You never know who’s nearby looking for travelers to target.
Tip 3: Carry your emergency contact card with you
Keep your emergency contact information on you.
- You can simply write your emergency contacts on piece of paper that you store in your pocket. Or, you can download and fill out this card template from the American Red Cross.
- Be sure to include information someone would need to know in case of an emergency. This includes medical conditions, health risks, and a family member’s contact information.
Tip 4: Know the emergency number in the country you’re traveling to
If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., know the local emergency numbers.
- 9-1-1 is not necessarily the right emergency number in all countries. Do you know what to do if you need to call paramedics in Mexico? What about if you need to call for a fire truck in England? The State Department has a list of emergency numbers you’ll need for international travel.
- It’s also a good idea to note the number for the nearest U.S. embassy in the city or country you’ll be in.
You’ve aced this tips list and are ready for your trip!
It’s fine to focus on the fun parts of your trip. After all, you’ve worked all your life toward this exciting time in retirement. And you have photo albums to fill! Being prepared to travel safely simply means you can save yourself time and money, and help to ensure you’re protected throughout your vacation. Follow these travel safety tips and enjoy some peace of mind knowing that you’ve done all you can to make only happy memories.
1 Insured Retirement Institute. Web page: Boomer Expectations for Retirement in 2016. April 11, 2016 from https://www.myirionline.org/research/research-detail-view/boomer-expectations-for-retirement-2016
2 PopSugar. Web page: Over 78% of Burglars Are Using Social Media to Find Their Targets. April 20, 2017 by Maggie Winterfeldt from https://www.popsugar.com/home/Burglars-Use-Social-Media-Find-Target-43451574