“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.
Insurance that you might want to consider is travel or trip insurance. There are five types of coverage:
- Vacation cancellation/interruption
- Flight insurance
My review section contains a comparison review of multiple travel insurance companies.
I think it is extremely important to look at insurance for your holiday, you never know when something is going to go wrong, not only travel insurance but medical insurance as well.
It would be nice to be one of those baby boomers that could afford to go for a holiday.
Nice article. You covered a lot of things Americans should think about when it comes to traveling abroad. I’ve traveled over seas only a few times in my life and I found the links to the State Department very insightful and helpful.
The suggestion to purchase traveler’s health insurance was something I can honestly say I’d never thought of before. Do you know if these policies are on a trip by trip basis or can you keep the policies active even if not travelling?
Dear Matt, Thanks for your comment. Some health insurance policies will provide health coverage for overseas travel. Policies that protect against loss of possessions, missed flights, accidents in rental cars, etc are usually on a trip by trip basis. Safe travels.
Hi Susan, yes I agree – traveller’s checklist is a great resource and shouldn’t be overlooked, even for the seasoned travellers. Sometimes we can let our hair down and relax, a little too much. It pays to be aware of foreign custom, laws, political situations etc. While I’m not an American citizen we have a similar thing in Australia called Smart Traveller. Anyway great article Susan, very important for the traveller! I look forward to more.
Stacey, thanks for your comment. No matter where you travel – in country or out, we do need to be aware of our surroundings.