International Travel: Seniors -- Don't Let Illness Ruin Your Trip

You're not as young as you used to be, but you're certainly wiser. You've reached a point in your life where you have the time and money to afford the kind of trips you've always wanted to take. But you're self-aware enough to realize that because of your age, you need to take certain precautions when traveling, especially if you're going overseas.

Obviously, most of the precautions are related to health. Let this article serve as an informal checklist of the most important age- and travel-related considerations.

Before you even get close to an airport, your first order of business is to thoroughly study your destination. Find out how the climate, elevation, water, and native diseases could affect your health. Determine what medical services are available, in case of an emergency.

You should start planning your trip months in advance. This provides enough time to learn about the country you're visiting as well as to acquire the necessary passports, visas, and traveler's health insurance. Adequate travel insurance is important, especially of you have pre-existing medical conditions.

You'll also need to determine what kinds of vaccines or boosters, if any, you may need. Even if you've been vaccinated for certain diseases, you may need a booster. Ask your travel agent if you will need any vaccinations. If you do, get your shots well before your trip, in case you suffer a reaction.

The Airport/Airline Experience
Prepare yourself for the airport experience. Busy airports can be confusing and frustrating environments. In the post-9/11 world, typical airport inconveniences -- such as long lines and long waits -- are magnified. Flight delays are always a possibility. When you couple that with a long flight, you may find that you are sitting for long periods of time.

For the older traveler, this extended period of inactivity can lead to swollen ankles and clotted blood vessels. This can lead to a condition called pulmonary embolism, the blockage of an artery in the lung, which may cause permanent damage to the heart and lungs and even sudden death.

To prevent this from happening to you, walk around as much as possible. Exercise your feet and legs while seated. Try to book a flight that has a stopover.

If you suffer from angina or a lung condition, you may need to take oxygen, due to the high flight altitudes. Usually, airlines can arrange for you to have oxygen if you call in advance.

You may also need to make some advance planning if you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or urinary incontinence.

Special Supplies
Use foresight when packing for your trip. Consider any health-related conditions and physical considerations. You may need to include:

You've waited all your life to take a trip like this. Don't let illness ruin it for you. Take these preventive measures and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime.

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