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See the world and travel safely

May 17, 2019 GMT

This time of year, many people start thinking about taking a vacation. Planning out your travel in advance can help you and your fellow travelers stay safe during your adventures.

If you will be traveling with someone in a wheelchair or who has a specific health condition, such as a heart problem — advance preparation is especially important.

Depending on where you are going, find out how your insurance works — or if it covers you — across state lines and internationally. For instance, Medicare (https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel/) is usually not valid outside of the United States, except in certain circumstances.


At the airport

If you need it, you can request assistance to your gate by asking at the check-in counter for a ride on a cart or assistance with a wheelchair. You can also request assistance at security, where you may be able to go through a shorter line, for convenience.

Airports vary, so give yourself plenty of time for these requests.

Vaccines/prescription medicine

Get up to date on routine vaccines, such as an annual flu shot or measles/mumps/rubella (MMR). While in the U.S., the latter might be considered a “childhood” vaccine, but the diseases it protects against are more common outside the country. Do research on the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/) to see recommended vaccines by country. When in doubt about vaccines, check with your doctor.

In addition, more than half of reported tetanus cases are in people over 65, so consider getting a tetanus booster before you travel, as you don’t want to have any hospital/clinic surprises when traveling.

Keep prescription medicine in its original container, along with a copy of the actual prescription, packing it in carry-on luggage. This way, you will still have it available in case your checked luggage gets lost.

Hotel precautions

Putting a “clean my room” sign on your hotel doorknob tells people (other than staff) that the room is unoccupied at the time. Thieves look for these signs as possible rooms to rob, and can be in and out of the premises relatively quickly.

It’s also wise to not leave any medications out in the open in your hotel room, as they can be a target for theft.

Travel insurance

Older travelers can be at risk of falling or getting sick while traveling, so consider travel insurance, which can give you peace of mind. Read the explanation of benefits carefully so you know what it covers and what it doesn’t.


Some more safe travel tips are:

• Be aware that thieves can often be found in high-traffic travel centers. This includes places like bus stations, airports, and tourist attractions.

• Instead of carrying a purse, women should consider using a money belt that can be hidden under their clothes.

• For men, instead of carrying a wallet in your back pocket, where someone may easily grab it and run, use the type of wallet that can be worn around your neck and hidden under a coat.

• Don’t flaunt valuables or flash your cash. Leave expensive watches or jewelry at home.

• Notify your credit card companies that you will be traveling so they won’t block your card for suspicious use.

Remember, with some planning, you can safely travel anywhere!