With summer travel plans in the works, preparation is key to ensuring all your travels are on happy trails.
By Vicki Martinez
Getting older doesn’t mean the passion for adventure has gotten old too.
Sure. Maybe the desire for spontaneity has been replaced by the need for safety and simplicity. Perhaps the question “Where are we going to sleep tonight?” has changed to “What’s the thread count?” or “Do they have Wi-Fi?”
Along with the shift in what’s important comes changes in the must-haves for travel. For stress-free travel here are a few simple prep steps — some which may come as a surprise.
4-6 Week Travel Checklist: Get Ahead of the Game
Along with shifting priorities comes changes in what we need to take along on our travels. Give yourself plenty of time to tackle these pre-travel tasks.
- Schedule a doctor visit. Not only is it a good idea to get your physician’s thumbs up, but now is a good time to request prescriptions refill forms. This is handy to have in case you need more meds while traveling (lost, stolen or running low). And for some international destinations, they may be required to get your meds through customs without any issues.
- Get recommended or required vaccinations. (The CDC’s website has a searchable database of vaccinations required by country.)
- Consider travel health insurance, especially if your destination is abroad. Medicare and most private health insurance won’t cover overseas expenses. (For a list of top-rated companies, visit Consumer Advocate.)
- Have your passport? Great. Maybe. If your passport is set to expire less than six months after your return flight, it doesn’t meet international guidelines and you may not be allowed to board.
- Have your visa? (Not the credit card.) America isn’t the only country that’s gotten stricter. To find out if a visa is required and to research detailed information about other countries the State Department’s website is a great resource.
Timely Travel Tip: If traveling with a parent with special mobility requirements, an implant or necessary medical device, apply for a TSA notification card. When going through airport security your parent will not need to “remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets during the screening process.” Click here for information on TSA screening processes for other medical conditions and disabilities.
2-4 Week Travel Checklist: The Devil’s in the Details
Being prepared for potential bumps in the road will save your sanity. Here are a few suggestions.
- Locate local pharmacies before arriving at your destination. If Rx’s are lost, stolen or run out this saves time, hassle and stress.
- Make sure you understand your insurance’s out-of-network policies.
- Call your mobile service provider to inquire about international packages for calling and texting.
- Notify your bank that you’ll be traveling.
- Snap photos of your luggage. All the colored yarn and curling ribbon won’t help with identification should you need to prove ownership of lost luggage.
Timely Travel Tip: If you haven’t traveled in a while, research the airline’s luggage policies. Many airlines now charge additional fees, even for checked bags.
1-2 Week Travel Checklist: Copy That (Twice)
Keep copies of these important documents separate from the originals (one with you, one in your checked bag) and leave a set behind with a trusted loved one.
- Itinerary and hotel information (including confirmation numbers)
- All IDs — driver’s license, passport, visa
- List of medications including generic names, dosage and frequency
- The refill forms you got from your doctor four weeks ago
- List of any food or drug allergies
- Names and phone numbers of physicians and specialists
- List of card numbers and contact information for reporting lost or stolen credit cards
- Copies of Medicare and other health insurance cards (plus a copy of travel health insurance if applicable)
- List of emergency contact info for each traveler and contacts back home
Timely Travel Tip: When emailing these documents to your family member or friend, send a copy to yourself. The ability to access them online may be a lifesaver.
The Day Before: Carry-On Content
Are you excited? Thanks to your chosen lifestyle, you’re about to embark on another great adventure. Here are a few last-minute items to remember:
- Pack all medications in their original bottles (prescription and over-the-counter)
- Extra eyeglasses/sunglasses/contact lenses and cases
- Hearing aid batteries
- Chargers and converters
- Earbuds or headphones
Timely Travel Tip: Routines (sleeping, exercising, eating) are often disrupted during travel. Keep a small pre-packed first aid kit nearby that includes antacids, gas relief capsules, sleep aids, laxatives and Imodium, antihistamines, medication for motion sickness, pain- and fever-reducing tablets, Band-Aids, and an antibiotic ointment or cream.
Although the items we pack may have changed quite a bit over the years, there’s one constant regardless of age: the desire to share our adventures with others. So, of course, don’t forget to pack … addresses for postcards. (Oh, and your mobile phone, too!)