Over 40 or 50 and Traveling Overseas?
So you’ve planned your big trip abroad. You’ve purchased your plane tickets and booked your hotels, and you can’t wait to explore the sights, sounds, and smells of a new country.
But what about all the other little things you’re supposed to do before traveling abroad — the things they don’t mention in the guidebook?
Whether you’re going on a tour of Europe or a volunteer vacation in Africa, now is not the time to be nervous; it’s time to be excited!
By preparing ahead of time, you’ll ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are ten steps every midlife woman should take before traveling abroad:
Check your destination’s passport and visa requirements
First things first: You can’t get out of the country without a passport. (Unless you’re traveling to Mexico or Canada and have a SENTRI or NEXUS card.)
Physically retrieve your passport and check its expiration date; certain countries will only let you in if you have more than six months validity.
Next, hop onto your destination’s embassy’s website and see what’s required for visitors from your country. If you need a visa, apply right away. If you don’t mind paying extra for convenience, try a service like Travisa.
If you’re traveling to a developing country for the first time, chances are you’ll need some vaccinations. As a midlife woman, you should get every vaccine that’s required or recommended; after all, your health is the most important thing.
To determine what you need, check the CDC website.
Apply for a travel-friendly debit and credit card
Many credit and debit cards levy “foreign transaction fees,” which means they charge you extra for buying things in a foreign currency. Though they’re usually only around 3% of the purchase total, they can really add up while you’re traveling. A few months before leaving, apply for a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. And while you’re at it, look into opening a bank account that doesn’t charge you for using foreign ATMs.
Start studying the local language
If you’re traveling to a country whose first language isn’t English, it’s wise to learn at least a few words of the local tongue. Even if the majority of the people do speak English, they’ll appreciate your efforts.
And with all of the free language learning apps out there, there’s no excuse not to! If you’re not into apps, we recommend Pimsleur’s language CDs, which are great to listen to in the car.
Purchase travel health insurance
Not all health insurance companies offer international coverage, so call your provider and ask exactly what will be covered while you’re abroad.
Note that if you’re on Medicare, you will not receive any coverage while traveling out of the country. Don’t risk traveling abroad with little or no coverage. Instead, purchase a travel health insurance plan, which are affordable and offer great peace of mind. You can search a variety of plans on Squaremouth.
Pause your mail
Nothing shouts “We’re traveling; please come rob us!” like a stack of newspapers or an overflowing mailbox. Contact your local post office and newspaper and ask them to pause your mail while you’re away.
Stock up on prescriptions and supplements
In your younger years, you could book a last-minute flight and just go. But those days are gone; now, you have to bring an eye mask, ear plugs, and most importantly, your medications.
You never know what will be available in a foreign country, so it’s essential to bring enough prescriptions and supplements to last you the entire trip.
It’s even a good idea to bring an extra week’s supply — in case your return is delayed or you can’t get to the pharmacy right away.
Notify your credit card companies
If a credit card company notices suspicious activity on your account, they won’t hesitate to suspend your card. Though usually a good thing, this can be a real headache if the “suspicious activity” is you using your card in a foreign country.
To prevent getting your credit cut off while you travel, call your credit card company and put a “travel notification” on each card you’ll be using. Some companies even allow you to do this online.
Scan your passport and credit cards
Though we always hope for the best, sometimes bad things happen. In the event you lose your passport or wallet, it’ll be much easier to cope if you have access to the numbers on the front and back.
That way, you can call and cancel your cards, and/or print a copy of your passport to take to the embassy. The easiest way to do this is to scan everything into a document and email it to yourself.
Email your itinerary to a friend
Whether you’re traveling solo or with a companion, it’s a good idea to leave your itinerary with someone who’s staying stateside. We recommend typing up your general itinerary, then printing a copy for yourself and emailing one to a friend. Make sure to include the names and address of hotels, flight numbers, train times, etc. It’s an easy way to feel organized and secure.
Follow these ten steps and you’ll be ready for the adventure of a lifetime! Bonus step: apply for Global Entry and get TSA PreCheck at the same time. It’s a savings over applying for TSA PreCheck separately.
What other steps do you take before traveling abroad?
Susan Shain blogs for Discover Corps.