What a Retiree Should Do When Planning an Extended Stay Abroad

Man and woman on a bench sea-sideThe golden years have arrived and you're feeling good. You've done what you needed to do during your working years to put a few dollars away that give you the opportunity many people dream of: Traveling at your leisure. You have time and resources at your disposal to spend as much time as you like in that tropical paradise or wherever your champagne wishes travel dreams happen to be. However, when you begin to turn that dream into reality there are a few key things you should do to insure you're your dream doesn't become a nightmare. Here are five key things every retiree should do when planning an extended stay abroad.

Get your passport in your hands well before you travel.

This means that you should apply for a passport at least three to four months before your planned departure date. In fact, some countries insist that your passport is six months old before they'll let you into their country. You'll want to know if the countries you're planning on going to have this restriction in place a year before you go. In addition, check to see if you'll need a visa to enter the country. You can find passport, visa and residency information on the US Department of State website.

Get to know the land before you land there.

Check out the local climate and the topography. Is the local environment one that you can live in for a while? If you are sensitive to altitude check out the sea level, also look at humidity, rainfall, air quality and any other factors that might impact your health. Check to see if there are natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, flooding or other issues that regularly occur in the area.

Pack Smart.

If you pack too much you might find yourself hauling around heavy suitcases. Also think about the area you are traveling to: What is the local culture like? If you dress too casually will you offend the people in the area? If you dress to upscale will you attract thieves and con artists? Experienced travelers generally carry a change of clothes in their carry on luggage in case their luggage gets delayed or lost.

Don't forget your medicine.

If you take prescriptions make sure you've got more than enough on hand to last for the duration of the trip. Also, make sure you adjust your medication schedule to account for the change in time zones. A good idea is to take along a letter from your physician that describes your conditions and what medication is best for you. If you don't want to raise any eyebrows when going through customs then it's best to keep your medication inside the original containers that are clearly labeled. Make sure you know the generic names of any of your required medications in case you run out and need a refill since these are the names that are most frequently recognized overseas.

Check your medical insurance to see if there is a way to extend the benefits to the country you are planning on visiting.

Your provider might ask that you provide ample notification before you travel to find out if there are covered treatment options that you might be eligible for. As a rule of thumb don't count on your insurance covering any expenses overseas. However, they might offer a short term policy that is specifically designed to cover you when you are abroad. If you do become ill contact the local U.S. Embassy or consulate. They will have a list of hospitals and physicians that U.S. workers use in the area.

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