I remember my younger days when I can just throw together a few clothing items and my toothbrush, hop on a plane and I am off to my holiday adventure. But for seniors, that approach is probably not advisable. A little planning can save you from a lot of pain if the unexpected happens during your holiday. Here is a simple checklist you should keep handy when planning your holiday overseas.
- Decide how you want to holiday. If do not want to plan what to do or see at your destination, joining a tour group may work for you. Be aware that a tour group can be quite regimented and much less flexible than doing a free-and-easy. To make sure it works for you, you may also wish to explore tour groups that are tailored to seniors.
- Travel insurance is a must. The costs of emergency healthcare to a tourist can be earth shattering! If you are travelling to ASEAN countries, travel insurance is relatively inexpensive. If you are travelling to USA or Europe, make sure your travel insurance provide cover of at least S$300,000 — but a minumum coverage of S$500,000 is ideal. If you have pre-existing condition, you should know that you may be denied your medical claim if it is related to your pre-existing condition. Read this on buying travel insurance with pre-existing condition coverage.
- Make sure you have enough medication to last your entire trip – plus up a few days extra in case you get delayed. Remember to also carry a copy of your prescription with you in case you need an emergency refill or if you lose your medication. Some pharmacies overseas can offer you a limited supply to tie you over. But if you need more, they may need a prescription from a local doctor. Remember, having enough medication will avoid this hassle. If you wear prescription glasses, bring a spare along.
- When overseas, make sure you can stay connected with roaming data. If you travel often, buy a “burner” smartphone that you can slot in a Singapore prepaid SIM card that will allow you to roam inexpensively overseas. Activate a roaming data plan before you leave Singapore (we use Starhub Happy prepaid) – it is easier than buying a SIM card at a strange airport overseas and getting it to work. Install Whatsapp on the phone and you can call each other anywhere there is digital coverage. Remember that if you use your local phone overseas, be prepared to pay exorbitant roaming charges! Having a smartphone with data access will also help you with useful apps such as email, Google Maps and Tripadvisor. Since you may be using your phone a lot, consider carrying a small powerbank with you.
- Remember to take a picture or keep a copy of your important travel documents, plane tickets, driver’s license, credit cards and hotel reservations on your smartphone. It is easy to do and takes only a few minutes. You will need this in case you lose them. (Having said that, you should also make sure your smartphone has a strong password so that no one can access it if it is lost or stolen!)
- Make sure someone at home has a copy of your travel itinerary and your travel insurance policy. If anything happens to you, your loved ones will be able to know where you are. Also, they may be able to contact the travel insurance company for you should assistance be needed.
- Money is important and there is nothing more frustrating than credit card problems overseas. First, make sure you have paid your credit card bills before you leave and have sufficient credit balance left for your use during your trip. Carry more than one card just in case. Also, if you have a debit card, bring it along especially on longer trips. You can withdraw local currency from your debit card if you run out of cash — but you should never use your credit card for cash advance as the service charges are very high. For your protection, many banks only activates your magnetic strip when you tell them to for overseas ATM use – remember to do that.
I have seen too many holidays turn into mini disasters when unexpected things happen and they are caught unprepared. This checklist should help you in case something happens overseas so that you can have the peace of mind to enjoy your holiday!