Travel Abroad Safety Checklist: Six Ways to Have a Stress-Free Vacation

According to an AARP survey, 9 out of 10 Baby Boomers expect to take at least one domestic trip this year, while more than half of Boomers plan to travel internationally. No matter their destination, the top three reasons why Baby Boomers travel are to spend time with loved ones, relax and rejuvenate, and get away from everyday life.

Whether you plan to spend time with family or enjoy a little R&R, or both, the following steps can help you enjoy a stress-free travel experience.

Travel Documents

For many countries, your passport must remain valid for at least six months following the completion of your trip. For example, if your return flight was scheduled at the end of June, your passport would have to be valid through December. If your passport was set to expire before then, you would need to renew it before your trip.

Your passport should also contain at least three blank visa pages.

It typically takes at least 4-6 weeks to renew your passport, but you can expedite the process by making an appointment at a passport agency. Learn more at the State Department website.

Get Travel Insurance

Many health insurance policies don’t provide coverage outside the country or outside your home state. Travel insurance offers peace of mind—ensuring that you’re covered in case a medical situation arises during your trip.

Travel insurance also protects your investment, providing coverage in case you need to cancel or shorten your trip, experience travel complications, or have any lost or delayed baggage. Many travel insurance policies offer a 24/7 hotline that can assist you in case of an emergency. Learn more about travel insurance here.

Make Travel Plans Known to Friends

Whether you’re taking an impromptu weekend getaway or a month-long overseas excursion, let your friends and family know about your plans. Provide them a copy of your itinerary, including flight information and addresses and contact information for any hotels/lodging where you will be staying. You may also want to give them a photocopy of important documents—passports, travel visas, credit cards, etc.

Consider signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which provides information about safety conditions and allows the U.S. embassy in your destination country to contact you in an emergency situation.

Get Your Medications and Health in Order

Before traveling abroad, it’s always good to meet with your primary care doctor for a routine physical and to ensure that you’re up-to-date on vaccinations and prescriptions.

Make sure that you have enough of your medications to cover the length of your trip, plus a few extra days in case of travel delays.

Keeping medications in their original, labeled bottles is helpful when going through customs. It’s also good to bring a copy of your prescription and know the generic names of medications in case you need to order a refill while traveling.

Contact Your Bank

Tell your bank the dates of your trip, so that they don’t flag charges once you start using your credit card(s) overseas. This is also a good time to ask about partner banks and ATM fees in your destination country. Your card is likely part of a larger network that will limit fees at certain foreign ATMs.

Take a Guided Tour

One of the best ways to enjoy a stress-free vacation is to take a guided tour. Let expert travel agents handle all the details and logistical planning so that you can sit back, relax, and be in the moment.

Guided tours enjoy special access to popular sites as well as curated excursions that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the history and culture of your destination. Tour groups also provide a wonderful social aspect to the trip—sharing meals and forming new friendships as you create lifelong memories together.