Staying safe abroad as an older traveller

The seven essential tips every mature traveller should know to keep them safe when abroad

Travelling abroad is often the well-earned reward of retirement. But travel can present a number of previously unmet challenges, ones that perhaps as a younger person one would never have considered a challenge.

Staying safe in your later years may now be harder because of later-in-life physical limitations and requirements. Then there’s the general trend of thieves and scammers in targeting supposedly less suspecting older people.

Here are seven tips and tricks that will help you stay safe when abroad.

Insurance is a must
There’s no worse feeling than having something go wrong while you’re travelling and wondering how you’ll afford to cover your losses. So, even if only for peace of mind, get travel insurance.

Finding the right cover for older travellers can be difficult. However, the Insurance Council of Australia has a list of insurers that may provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions that should help you find the right cover.

Medication
Treat meds like you would your passport, either keeping them near you or somewhere safe at all times. Don’t risk packing them in your check-in luggage in case you’re separated from your bags during transit. And make sure you’ve brought enough for a few extra days should your trip be extended by delays.

Before you book your tickets, it’s important to know which countries won't allow your medication to cross their borders. So, to avoid getting in trouble at the airport, make sure you do your research before take-off. 

Keep your absence on the quiet side
Don’t go screaming your soon-to-be absence from the social media rooftops. Yes, we all love to post an airport departure pic on Facebook, but you should know that scammers and thieves scour social media for these types of announcements and your fun pic essentially tells them that your house is going to be vacant for a while.

Similarly, while we all like to think of hotels as our safe spaces when we travel, you’d be surprised at who can walk in and out unnoticed. Liz Dahl, the co-founder of Boomer Travel Patrol, recommends not leaving the ‘clean my room’ sign on your door as it advertises the fact that you’re out. This is likely to attract thieves who know you’ve probably left your passport, spare cash and belongings unattended inside. Instead, call the front desk or mention on your way out that your room is ready to be cleaned.

Flats on your feet
While dressing up can be fun, wearing heels around a foreign city can also be a recipe for disaster. Liz Dahl says that even low heels are linked to injuries such as falls and rolled or sprained ankles. So, stay safe on your feet by wearing flat shoes while travelling. As Liz insists, they ‘don’t have to be ugly, just flat’.

Watch your eating
We may all have fond memories of endless cheese tastings, hoovering up rich meaty dishes or inhaling spicy curries when travelling at a younger age, but it might be time to admit that our stomachs aren’t as invincible as they once were. In order to keep your focus on your holiday and not the location of the nearest bathroom, it might be a good idea to limit the quantity of rich foods while you’re abroad.

Let people know
It’s always best to share your itinerary with family and close friends before you leave, so that they can check-in if they don’t hear from you for a while. It’s also important to let people closer to the action know where you’ll be and what you’ll be up to. We suggest mentioning your plans and estimated time of return to hotel staff so that they’ll take note if you don’t return when expected.

Don’t flaunt it too hard
Thieves are well aware that older travellers are more likely to be carrying more cash and be wearing expensive watches, jewellery and accessories, so you might be in the limelight as you explore the streets. Unless you want an entourage of thieves and scammers following you around a foreign city, it might be best to leave the glam at home and keep the cash close to your body.

Read more at Smarter Travel.

What other tips would you give older travellers looking to stay safe abroad? Are there any tricks we’ve missed?

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    COMMENTS

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    Arisaid
    23rd Feb 2019
    12:23pm
    Keep your medications in their original packages. Take a letter from your doctor stating the medications you are on. Sensible to have a cross body bag. Take as few clothes as possible - makes for a smaller suitcase which is easier to move around, especially if you are travelling by train. Take a photocopy of your 'cards' and leave this with someone you trust implicitly. We always get a house sitter so that our house is not left empty and the dogs can be looked after. (Make sure you have their Police Check and check their references)
    BTM
    23rd Feb 2019
    12:25pm
    Take the time to knock up a small currency conversion table before you leave showing the equivalent in A$ of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 of the currency you will be using and put it in your wallet / purse for quick reference. You can calculate the conversion using the XE Currency app. Give copies to your travelling companions.


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