“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton
We Baby Boomers are a traveling group. AARP took a 2014 survey to uncover travel trends for 2015. In a survey of more than 1,000 members AARP found that Baby Boomers planned to take between 4 and 5 trips in 2015. AARP expected us to spend about $120 billion on leisure travel in 2015. We really wanted to travel to warmer climates and many of us wanted to take cruises. Fifty five percent of us were planning on remaining in the United States. Those of us planning to travel overseas overwhelming chose Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
Trends for vacations include ecotourism, adventure, medical tourism, bucket list trips and trips with several generations of family. I will explore several of these trends later but would like to spend my time today discussion overseas travel on the most general level.
The U.S. Department of State is hard at work to help Americans and nationals prepare for safe and healthy travel abroad. I recommend that as you are planning your adventure, check out their Traveler’s Checklist . Even for seasoned travelers, reviewing the checklist will help make sure you thought about all those things you need to think about – warnings for your destination; required travel documents; what to do/where to go in an emergency; driving abroad; packing smartly; photocopies of your itinerary and travel documents; handling money; local laws and customs; vaccinations; finding medical help; health insurance; and prescription and other medications. Addressing all the topics in the checklist can save a lot of headaches while you are traveling.
The Department of State has established a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Benefits of enrolling in STEP include:
- Receiving important information from the embassy about safety conditions in your country of destination
- Helping the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency
- Helping family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency
STEP is a free service to U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. As a first resource for international travel, the Department of State cannot be beat.
Unexpected events can make even the most well planned and budgeted trip abroad a nightmare. One consideration before you leave the ground is insurance. Do you want or need travel insurance? Do you need supplemental health care insurance? The time to decide is not the day before you travel. Multiple insurance companies offer international health insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers short and long term international health plans for all varieties of travel. IMG (International Medical Group) offers multiple plans from short term coverage and multiple trip coverage and insurance coverage for members of the expat community. MEDEX also has coverage for single and multiple trips as well as for expat community members. Other companies include Travelex, Overseas Travel Insurance Services, Reliance General Insurance, and Allianz Global Assistance. I have established a review page comparing several of the medical insurance carriers and plans. Please make sure you do your homework. Costs and deductibles are different, as are the level of support you get with each plan. Please, while you are traveling, make sure you have a copy of any policy you purchase.
Before you choose to rent a car and drive in a foreign country, know their laws and have your international driver’s license. Check out this article in USA Today for hazards of overseas car insurance. Check out the coverage provided by your credit card to see if your rental will be covered. If it is, you might want to obtain a “letter of eligibility from the company. If you are driving overseas, you might want to consider international car insurance. You should consider purchasing international insurance when neither your US care insurance coverage nor your credit card covers you in your destination country. If you determine you need international coverage for your rental car, the best place to start looking is with your current insurance company. A good rule of thumb is to purchase the same coverage you have in the United States.
Certainly Expats will need insurance if they are planning to own a car. Several companies offer overseas insurance for cars, motorcycles and personal property. GEICO and Clements Worldwide both offer insurance while living or traveling outside the United States. In many countries you can purchase coverage for liability, comprehensive, and collision, as well as optional coverage for rental cars in the event that yours is being repaired due to a claim.
- Vacation cancellation/interruption
- Flight insurance
My review section contains a comparison review of multiple travel insurance companies.