No matter where you're traveling, one thing should go with you, stay with
you, and come home with you: your health.
While travel, whether domestic or foreign, broadens one's mental horizons
and refreshes a zest for life, it is also fraught with chances for illness and
injury. So the best advice is the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Follow these
Most of us have busy lives. We all have a lot to do before we can leave for
vacation. But many of us don't do these things until the last minute. The
resulting frenzy of activity leaves us exhausted - just when we'll be needing
our physical and emotional strength for travel.
If this sounds like you, try something new this vacation. Using a calendar
for the month before you leave, plan just one task for every day. Sure, there
will be some last-minute details, but you'll have so much more done.
Step 2: Check Your Prescriptions
If you need any kind of prescription medicine, either on a daily or
as-needed basis, make sure you've got enough to last the length of your trip.
Make a list of all of these medicines and take it with you in case your luggage
gets lost. Keep this list separate from the medicines themselves, in case your
luggage is lost or stolen.
If you're traveling to another country, you'll want to take extra
Carry prescription medicines in their original, labeled bottles.
Your medicine list should include the generic name of each drug. That's
because some drugs have different brand names in other countries. (All drugs,
even those not sold over the counter, have generic names. If you don't know the
generic names of your medicines, ask your pharmacist.)
The U.S. State Department advises travelers to check with the foreign
embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications
they carry are not considered to be illegal narcotics.
If you have pre-existing medical problems, it's wise to carry a letter from
your doctor describing the condition and any medicines used to treat it.
Step 3: Check Your Travel Insurance Coverage
Be sure to take your insurance policy identify card and a claim form with
you. If you're traveling to another country, check with your insurer to see
whether you will be covered if you fall ill or get injured while abroad.
If your insurance does not offer coverage, you may want to purchase
supplemental insurance that does. Even if your insurer covers "customary
and reasonable" hospital costs overseas, few companies pay for medical
evacuation back to the U.S. The U.S. State Department estimates the cost at
"$10,000 and up."
Note that Medicare does not cover hospital or medical costs outside the U.S.
The American Association of Retired Persons has information for senior citizens
about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.