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Smart Australian senior travellers enjoy memorable experiences for all the right reasons. With a bit of preparation and prudent practices on your trip, your holiday can be just how you dreamed it would be. Too often though, travellers end up encountering challenges and difficulties which could be easily avoided.

Here are some tips to help you steer clear of some of the most common mishaps and mayhem that can mess up your holiday.

Before you go

  • Passport and visas – check that your passport has at least six-months validity from your planned date of return to your country, and any visa requirements.
  • Health – visit your doctor and dentist for a general check-up before you leave. Ask about any vaccinations relevant to your destination. Ensure your regular vaccinations, such as the flu shot and tetanus shot, are up to date. Get your doctor to print a list of all your current medications, their generic names, dosages and frequency taken. Print a spare copy and keep it separate from your main luggage.
  • Money – value and security are two key considerations. Most cities around the world offer easy access to ATMs, but make sure you are aware of the fees your financial institution will be charging for using them. Exchanging some currency before you leave can offer convenience when you arrive and also the ability to exchange on a day when rates are advantageous, but carrying too much cash can be risky. Plan multiple options to access funds, such as credit cards, cash, travellers’ cheques and debit cards, then establish a system where these are not all kept in the same place, so if you lose your wallet you can get a credit card out of your luggage.
  • Insurance – according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT): “Travel insurance is as essential as your passport, regardless of your travel destination. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel!”
  • Mobile devices – contact your mobile phone company and turn off global roaming and data on your phone before you leave. Overseas roaming charges are extremely expensive. Pick up a local SIM card at your destination to make cheap local calls and lower cost international calls.
  • Research – find out about the climate so you can pack suitable clothing, be aware of local laws which are different from Australia, check www.smarttraveller.gov.au for travel advice and gather helpful materials such as maps, accommodation addresses, local contact numbers and local emergency numbers.
  • Photocopy documents – make a photocopy of your passport and travel documents including travel insurance policy, travellers’ cheques, visas and credit cards. Carry a copy with you, separate from your main luggage and leave a copy with a family member or friend at home.
  • Confirm your itinerary – make sure your itinerary accurately reflects your intended plans. Re-confirm details within one to two days of travel, via provider’s website or booking agency.

While travelling

  • Stay in Touch – contact friends or family regularly so that they know you are safe.
  • Situational awareness – pay attention to your surroundings and be sensitive to changes/threats. Stay in well-lit areas and avoid poorly lit areas.
  • Arrange safe transportation – use reputable transportation companies (i.e. taxis, rental cars etc.) and avoid unmetered taxis.
  • Respect local cultures/customs – dress appropriately and always ask permission before taking photos of people.
  • Keep your belongings safe – keep your belongings close to you at all times, be wary of strangers offering to help.
  • Keep valuables out of sight – these includes jewellery, expensive watches, cash, credit card, mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. Try to keep your clothing low key.
  • Prevent DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) – DVT commonly affects the elderly and those with heart disease or circulatory problems. Sitting still for long periods of time (such as on a plane) can increase these DVT risk factors. Do arm, leg and foot stretching exercises when you are seated. When possible, get up and walk up and down the aisles. Wear compression stockings to increase blood flow in your lower legs.
  • Jet lag – when adapting to a new time zone, try to switch immediately to local time by taking your first sleep at the same time as the locals would. Make sure you change your watch to local time so you don’t constantly have a reminder of what time your body thinks it is back home.

To help you get the most out of your next holiday, Australian Seniors Insurance Agency has developed a free downloadable guide called 50 Travel Tips for Seniors. Visit www.seniors.com.au/ebook to download your copy today. 

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