Older Adults and Healthy Travel
CDC recommends making sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before travel, which includes additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised or booster doses when eligible. Follow all requirements and recommendations at each location during travel, and take steps to protect yourself and others. If you are traveling internationally, check the COVID-19 Travel Health Notice for your destination and visit the International Travel webpage for requirements and recommendations.
If you are an older adult considering international travel, learn what precautions to take to stay safe and healthy during your trip.
Before you travel
Check CDC’s destination pages. Check CDC’s webpage for your destination to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discussing health concerns as well as your itinerary and planned activities with your provider allows them to give more specific advice and recommendations.
Tell your doctor about
- Any chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and asthma.
- All destinations that you will be visiting
- The types of accommodations where you will be staying such as hotels, hostels, short term rentals, boats, camping etc.
- The purpose of your trip such as to visit friends and relatives, business, or adventure travel.
- Timing and length of your trip.
- Planned activities, such as climbing at high altitudes, scuba diving, humanitarian aid work, or taking cruises
- All medications that you are taking.
Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccination are not common in the United States but are still common in other countries.
Some routine vaccines for older adults include pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, zoster or shingles vaccine, and an annual flu shot. Learn more about what routine vaccines are recommended for adults.
Take recommended medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, take the medicine as directed before, during, and after travel. Counterfeit drugs are common in some countries, so only take medicine that you bring from home and make sure to pack enough for the duration of your trip, plus extra in case of travel delays. Learn more about traveling abroad with medicine.
Keep a paper or electronic record of your medical history with you during travel.
Cruise Ship Travel
Cruises are popular among older adults. However, cruise ships can create an ideal situation for diseases to spread. Common diseases that spread on cruise ships include norovirus, that can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and respiratory diseases like influenza and COVID-19. To help prevent getting sick, make sure to wash your hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you feel sick before your voyage, reschedule your trip. If you feel sick during your voyage, report your symptoms to the ship’s medical facility and follow their recommendations.
Plan for the Unexpected
Get travel insurance. Find out if your health insurance covers medical care abroad. Travelers are usually responsible for paying hospital and other medical expenses out of pocket at most destinations. Make sure you have a plan to get care overseas, in case you need it. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.
There are different types of travel insurance such as trip cancellation insurance, travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. Learn more about travel insurance.
Enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Check for and monitor any travel advisories for your destination. Enrolling also ensures that the US Department of State knows where you are if you have serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties while traveling. In the event of an emergency at home, STEP can also help friends and family contact you.
Learn basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit. Learn the numbers for emergency services in the destination you are visiting.
If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider, and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.
If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel.