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  • Writer's pictureRobin Masters

Safe Travels

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

We live in a world of wonder and there is nothing better than exploring and learning. That's what we can look forward to when we decide to travel. As an older adult, preparation might be a little different than our carefree spirit of yesteryear, especially if we decide to travel outside of our home country.

Being sure all your documentation is in order in another country is one of the first things to put straight. Your passport should have at least 6 months of clearance time before renewal comes around. Keep a copy of your passport in a safe place. Should the original document be lost, you'll have a back up. If your stay is longer than 6 months in a foreign country, have the renewal process started. You may also need a visa to permit a stay of longer than 6 months in some countries.

Checking travel advisories before and during your adventure is sure to save you a few hassles too. Knowing how to reach the consulate of your home country is a contact worth having in your contact list. Your medical requirements are a consideration and insurance is a non-negotiable necessity. That includes health, life and disability coverage. It is wise to also register your trip with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service so that Global Affairs Canada (GAC) can contact and assist you in the event of an emergency. Visit for online registration and more travel preparedness tips.

Remember that travel is meant to be fun and adventurous, but planning and preparedness make for a smoother holiday. You can always get support and great tips if you let an experienced traveller help you plan. Our health needs may have changed and we could be affected by it in a foreign land. One issue may be a different climate. There may be risks to possible health hazards with changes in temperatures and humidity. Altitude may also effect us as an older adult. Certainly there are many new cultures, customs and languages to understand but there may also be local safety and security conditions too. There may be areas to strictly avoid. Checking out the local laws and cultures could save you ending up in a potential snag during your visit.

If you have mobility issues, plan well ahead to have accessibility accommodations at your destination. A travel health kit can keep you organized if your needs are time and mobility sensitive. Reducing your risk means being sure your medical needs and conditions are in order before the journey. Certainly check with a travel health clinic to reduce your risk of illness or health event. Some vaccinations may be required or recommended and with increasing age; it may take your body longer to develop immunity. In Canada, the pneumococcal vaccine is high on the list to be up to date.

Your current medicine may be illegal in another country. Be sure that your medications or medical supplies you intend to bring are allowed into the country of travel or even on the aircraft. Older travellers are at higher risk for developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or blood clots. Those with cancer or congestive heart failure or even if you have had a recent surgery could also be at risk for DVT.

As we all remember, travel can be taxing to the mind and body. Jet lag can affect us more so with age so be sure you get exposure to sunlight, eat at your usual mealtime in the new time zone and keep up with gentle exercises you have done routinely. Staying hydrated while travelling is so important so remember to drink water and limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine.

There may be different driving customs if you choose to take the wheel. Safe transportation options should be considered rather that navigating unfamiliar routes, poor roads and operating an unfamiliar vehicle. Buckle up whenever you can. Carrying with you an Emergency Contact Card is always a must so be sure to tell your contacts the itinerary of your journey and have a safe contact procedure to let them know you're enjoying your trip and have arrived safely.

If that seems like a lot of work just remember the devil is in the details. These are just a few pointers to be sure your journey is a safe and memorable one. It's a big, beautifull world out there and you never know who you might meet and have a lasting friendship with. Enjoy the wonder of learning and adventure preparedly and come home safe and sound. Your good memories will last a long, long time.

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