Senior Vacations – 5 Ways to Travel the World

Filed under Travel & Leisure

One of the greatest things about becoming a senior is the travel opportunities that become available. For most people, the majority of their lives up until this point have been spent raising children, paying for college, working full-time or a combination of all of these. All those years you spent taking care of others are over. Now, it’s time to focus on you.

Senior travel is becoming more and more popular every year. With free time and a little money in the bank, there’s no better way to enjoy the prime of your life than on a luxury vacation?

Below you will find a list of 5 popular ways for seniors to travel the world in style:

1. Cruises.

Cruises are a great way to see the world and meet new people without the hassle of having to move your luggage from location to location. Simply set your clothes in your room and the ship will drop you off at a number of interesting places where you can spend the day touring, meeting back up with the ship at the end of the day. If you haven’t been on a cruise yet, we highly suggest giving it a try.

Golf Vacations.

Golf vacations are the perfect way to relax and stay healthy all at once. The fresh air and exercise will do a world of wonders for your emotional well-being and you’ll get to see some of the world’s best courses. If you’re an avid golfer, you may want to seek out golf vacation tours offered near you.

3. Spa Vacations.

Those of you who aren’t interested in golf vacations may find spa vacations more relaxing. Spa vacations are a great way to unwind, de-stress and forget about everything else that’s happening in your life. Not only will it help your emotional well-being but it will enhance your appearance as well. Manicures and pedicures will work wonders on your hands and feet while those lovely facials will make your face look fresh, young and vibrant. Who doesn’t want that?

4. Home Exchanges.

Home exchanges are becoming more and more popular every year. For those of you who haven’t heard of this type of vacation, we urge you to watch the movie “The Holiday.” Basically, two people (or couples) switch homes for a predetermined period of time. You pack your suitcases but you use everything they have in their home, drive their vehicles etc. The great thing is there’s nothing to worry about and everything you need is at your fingertips. Plus, the cost of staying on home exchange is minimal – you don’t pay anything, you just switch homes and pay for the activities, site-seeing etc. you want to do.

5. Bus Tours.

If you’re looking for a great way to experience traveling at its best, we highly suggest taking a bus tour. If you have a large group of people already, you can organize a bus tour to make sure you and your friends all get on the same trip. Bus tours offer scenic views and an intimate setting you can’t always find with other types of vacations.


Special Consideration and Tips for Senior Travel

Filed under Travel & Leisure

Cellular and extracellular changes of old age cause a change in physical appearance and a decline in function. Measurable changes in shape and body makeup occur.

The body’s ability to maintain homeostasis becomes increasingly diminished with cellular aging, and organ systems cannot function at full efficiency because of cellular and tissue deficits.

The well-being of an aged person depends on physical, mental, social, and environmental factors. A total assessment includes an evaluation of all major body systems, social and mental status, and the ability of the person to function independently despite a chronic illness.

Psychological Aspects of Aging

Successful psychological aging is reflected in the senior citizen’s ability to adapt to physical, social, and emotional losses and to achieve contentment, serenity, and life satisfactions. Because changes in life patterns are inevitable over a lifetime, the older person needs resiliency and coping skills when confronting stresses and change. For this reason, experts recommend travels and other recreational activities for the senior citizens to promote psychological, social, physical, and emotional aspect of the elderly.

Ideally, senior citizens do best in their own, familiar environment. But adjustments to the environment may be required to allow the older adult to travel to places they have not yet enjoyed in their entire life. This is to promote life satisfaction in normal aging.

Hence, it is recommended that senior citizens maintain the active lifestyle by engaging in activities that will help them promote their total well-being, such as senior citizens travel.

However, since senior citizens travel will mainly compose of older people, it is important for them to know the necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid health risks as well as social dilemma.

To guide the senior citizens on their travel, here is a list of some senior citizens travel tips:

1. Airline travel tips

Most senior citizens travel by air. Hence, it is important to know the privileges especially designed for senior citizens traveling through airplanes.

Senior citizens should know that before making any reservations, they should try to learn more about the privileges for senior citizens made available by a certain airline company.

Special discounts and privileges are provided by the government and should be imposed by all airline companies. If the senior citizen knows his right, he will never miss these great opportunities. He will also be able to save more on discounts and freebies.

2. Have a nose for news

Senior citizens who travel a lot should have a nose for news. If they will be traveling, they should stay glued on their televisions, newspapers, and radios for any cancellations on flight schedules.
Senior citizens might experience difficulty when stranded on an airport just because of delayed or cancelled flight.

Hence, knowing the problem before hand will enable the senior citizens to act appropriately and prepare solutions for the problem.

3. Money matters

When traveling, senior citizens should remember not to bring too many cash with them. They should only bring the necessary things with them, such as credit cards (this should be limited, at least 1 or 2 cards will do) and important identification cards.

It is best not to bring any unnecessary items such as extra cash, additional credit cards, or any cards that will reveal their Social Security number or any personal information such as address or home telephone number.
Statistical reports show that nearly 40% of identity theft cases and other crimes involve senior citizens. This is because most senior citizens fall easy prey to unscrupulous people. So to avoid such problems, senior citizens should be more wary on their money matters when traveling.

4. Open communication

To ensure security at all times, communication should always be open between senior citizens and their immediate families. One good way to maintain an open communication is to bring mobile phones on senior citizens travels.

If this is not possible, it is best that the concerned senior citizen leave the necessary information to their families to ensure immediate contact in case something came up.

There are community support services that are available to help senior citizens outside their home. Hence, it is best to know these things so that they will know what to do whenever they need help while on travel.

Keep in mind that the frail senior citizens can experience multiple problems at any given point in time. Therefore, it is important that they know what to do first when certain problems occur especially during their travel.

Travel Tips for Seniors

Filed under Travel & Leisure

For seniors looking to see the world through travel, it does not necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. Many airlines, hotels, and attractions offer a variety of incentives for senior travelers. To find the travel deals, you may need to do a little homework up front. Discounts are getting harder to find, so travelers have to plan out the process.

Your homework includes mapping out your itinerary and making out a budget. Most seniors don’t have unlimited funds so make out a spreadsheet to track everything you spend on trips. Your long-term retirement plan should be consistent with the amount of money you have and will have, and to do as much travel as you can while you’re still healthy and able to enjoy the travel.

If that’s your goal, here are a few ideas.

Your Age Is Your Ticket To Good Deals

Some senior discounts can start with age 50 but most are from age 62 to 65. When you travel be sure and ask for any senior discounts offered. Don’t be afraid to tell them your age and show your AAA and AARP membership card. Although the discount may not be advertised, many hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages and restaurants offer a senior discount through AAA and AARP membership.

Some Airlines still offer senior discounts but most have cut back or eliminated their programs. The best way to find if an airline offers a senior discount is to go directly to their website and do a search on “senior fares”. The web site should list any discounted fares available.

Many hotel chains offer senior discount programs. Among the most generous are the 50 percent cut at Starwood Hotels (including Sheraton, Four Points, W Hotels and Westin Hotels and Resorts) and the 40 percent discount available through the Hilton Senior Travel Honors Program, which requires a $55 per year membership fee.

Travel Web Sites Are Not Always The Best

The major travel web sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Hotwire and Orbitz are the same as any other travel agency. They are there to provide a service and there is almost always a charge for that service. In some cases even though these web sites may be owned or in partnership with the major airlines, you can many times find a cheaper fare by going directly to the airline or hotel web site. The more you can make reservations yourself, the better off you are. Also, remember that many of the travel web sites have limited or no refunds when canceling a hotel reservation. However, most hotel web sites will allow you to cancel with 72 hours notice. If you have the money and want the convenience, you can use the travel web sites. Otherwise, try making your reservations directly.

Group Tours Also Present Savings

Because you are getting a group rate, group tours through tour companies, alumni associations, church and retirement community travel groups and other programs present a great travel savings opportunity as well as a good social opportunity for seniors.

One opportunity is through Elderhostel. Elderhostel provides 8,000 learning adventures in all 50 states and more than 90 countries abroad. They offer in-depth and behind-the-scenes learning experiences for almost every interest and ability including history, culture, nature, music, outdoor activities such as walking and biking, individual skills, crafts, and study cruises. Part of its attraction is the inclusion of a learning component in each of its travel programs. The programs are created in collaboration with educational institutions, museums, performing arts centers, national parks and other facilities.

Seniors can join several U.S. and Canadian programs for less than $600. Eldershostel offers a limited number of need-based scholarships for credits of up to $800 for U.S. and Canadian travel. The online application form asks for information about household income and special financial or medical circumstances. These are partial scholarships: Recipients have to pay least $100 toward the cost of their chosen program. Transportation to your destination is included only on trips outside the United States and Canada. Everything else is all-inclusive.

You can find more information about this program at

House Swapping

Another idea to save on lodging would be to exchange your home with other vacationers. There are several programs that let you exchange your home and eliminate the cost of lodging and maybe even upgrade the type of lodging you have.

Intervac International Home Exchange offers an inexpensive and unique way to travel the world. Intervac started home exchange in the early 1950’s and offers its members a multi-language, real-time database of over 20,000 home exchange listings. You can see what they have to offer at

Another network is through The Home Exchange Network. An annual membership is required for $99.95. This exchange includes over 20,000 listings in a number of different countries. You can find more information about this home exchange network at

Senior Singles Travel Destinations

Filed under Travel & Leisure

Peter Greenberg has compiled a roundup of some of the more interesting options for swingin’ senior singles, which run the gamut from safaris to small-ship cruises.


If you want some adventure on the road, ElderTreks has been offering senior-oriented trips for almost two decades. With both land and sea vacations, ElderTreks features some pretty exotic destinations, including Mongolia, Ethiopia, and Antarctica. Most of the offerings tend toward the strenuous, but the Activity Level rank gives an idea of just how active a particular tour is.

A Level 3 (most physical) voyage in Ethiopia, for example, could include climbing down the base of the Blue Nile Falls, a three-hour hike in Lalibela, and camping in the Omo Valley after some serious off-roading. ElderTreks are not for the faint of heart or the physically unfit, and can range from about a week to a month or more. If you’re adventurous, and looking to meet someone else who is, too, consider joining up with ElderTreks.


While the “Adventure” moniker may be a bit misleading considering this company’s emphasis on large-ship cruising. Still, for seniors aged 55+, it could be a good way to meet others. Senior singles in need of a buddy or wingman might like the “Travel Mates” program, which can help to start friendships and meet up with a roommate to avoid a singles supplement charge. Do be careful when exploring Singles Adventure Cruises options, though — seniors should look for cruises specifically targeted to them. Otherwise, you could end up on a cruise full of single, hard-partying twenty-somethings. Their garishly-designed website doesn’t help, but seniors should look for cruises targeted at the “55+.”

They also offer “Ad-Lib Cruises” for folks who don’t like to be overscheduled with group activities. These cruises allow you to be on a ship with significant numbers of singles and participate in group activities when you desire, yet still give you the freedom to pursue your own schedule.


Golden Travel Guides isn’t actually referring to the “golden years”; the company was started in 1997 by Rick Golden. But they do have plenty of options for senior travel, providing seniors with a search engine for exploring options on their own over the Internet. Alternately, they offer a toll-free number to allow you to speak with an actual “travel specialist” to help make your plans. Not all of their trips are singles-oriented; however, a significant percentage of their travelers on nearly every trip are, in fact, single.


With more than 8,000 all-inclusive trips in all 50 states and more than 90 foreign countries, Elderhostel has a global reach. But a couple of things make Elderhostel a bit different from other senior-focused tour companies. First, as a non-profit, Elderhostel is dedicated not to making money, but to providing meaningful experiences that help and educate both travelers and their hosts. Second, Elderhostel maintains a strong commitment to community service with many of its tours.

For example, seniors learn about habitat restoration and biological research by helping scientists study endangered Giant Otters and Hyacinth Macaws in Brazil’s Pantanal. Finally, Elderhostel is committed to education as a goal for travel, with many of their trips having significant cultural components to show seniors a more meaningful side to the country than they might otherwise see. Elderhostel also offers inter-generational trips, for grandparents looking for service-oriented vacations for the whole family.


One final idea for senior singles vacations…trips for college alumni. Many university alumni clubs will sponsor trips that can re-connect seniors to long-lost classmates and spark new relationships. The added bonus of these trips, aside from the fact that all the participants will have at least their college in common, is that it will often help the ol’ alma mater, too. Contact your former college for more information on joining an alumni club.

Senior Travel Tours

Filed under Travel & Leisure

Senior travel tours are a great way to see the world. They’re safe, they’re affordable and they’re also an easy way to meet other seniors who share similar interests. If you’re part of the Baby boomer generation but you’re not ready to spend your days falling in and out of sleep in your worn out recliner, with a bit of research you’ll likely find plenty of senior travel tours you’d enjoy.

If you think that traveling with a bunch of older individuals is going to be tedious, boring and full of breaks for resting weary bones then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to realize how wrong you are. After just a few minutes of research you’ll see that your biggest challenge is going to be choosing which of the hundreds of senior travel tours you want to go on first. To give you an idea of the variety, here are just a few of the travel options posted recently on the Internet.

Senior travel tours take you everywhere

If you love Italian food but don’t know the difference between penne rigate and mezzi rigatoni, why not book one of the many senior travel tours that’ll take you to various parts of Italy where you’ll learn how to prepare regional delicacies straight from authentic Italian chefs! Along with cooking techniques you’ll learn how to pair wines and you’ll have an opportunity to immerse yourself in Italian living.

If cooking isn’t your thing, that’s no problem. You’ll find countless senior travel tours that specialize in taking you off the beaten track. You won’t find any tour busses on these trips either. You’ll tour the landscape on foot or from inside a canoe or kayak or even from the seat of a bicycle. Imagine hiking through the rainforests of Costa Rica or biking along the same route as the Tour d’ France or learning about natural history in the Galapagos Islands!

If you’ve only ever dreamed of taking an African safari you could easily turn that dream into reality right by booking yourself on one of the many senior travel tours that’ll have you driving right alongside elephants and tigers and whatever else you’re likely to encounter along the way. And there’s more.

Senior travel tours for everyone

When it comes to senior travel tours, you are limited only by your imagination, the amount of leisure time you have, and your budget. You’ll find tours that are geared towards married seniors, single seniors, gay and lesbian seniors, seniors with disabilities – you name it, if you dig long and hard enough, you likely will find it.
As with any type of travel planning, it’s important that you do business only with reputable senior travel tours operators. You’ll want to pay close attention to the details so you know exactly what you’re getting with your chosen tour. You don’t want to find later on that transfers, taxes, or other hidden costs have added hundreds onto the tour’s price tag.

Senior travel tours will give you something to do and they’ll leave you with many lasting memories. So go now and enjoy!

Travel: A Gift That Spans Generations

Filed under Travel & Leisure

(ARA) – Have you ever returned from a trip anxious to share your stories and pictures with family members, only to be disappointed as you’re going through them? It’s a common occurrence; photos don’t always capture the true essence of your experience.

So what’s the best way to truly share your travel excursions with family? Take them with you! In fact, intergenerational travel (grandparents taking their children and grandchildren on trips) has increased in recent years. More than 30 percent of grandmas have taken at least one trip with a grandchild, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. And those numbers are expected to climb, with a large increase coming from international travel.

Joan Wyer and Sherry Lund, both from Minnesota, are two such grandparents. They’ve taken family members to domestic and international destinations alike and say it’s a wonderful, fun and enlightening way to build relationships.

“I could travel alone or with friends,” says Wyer. “But I’d much rather share these memories with my family.” Wyer has taken her family of 18 (four children, their spouses and nine grandchildren) on three excursions in the last several years including Alaska, the Sea of Cortez (Mexico) and the Galapagos Islands.

“There is no better way to build deep relationships than by traveling together,” says Wyer. “There are definitely bonding moments as you experience unique places and people away from the day-to-day routine of home.”

Lund couldn’t agree more. “Traveling with my grandchildren has given us a gift  a special bond of memories that only we share, no one else.” Lund has started a family tradition with her grandchildren. When they reach 10 years of age, she takes them on a unique trip that helps broaden their world view. To date, she’s shared the Galapagos Islands with her granddaughter Laurie and Peru with granddaughter Libby.

Both Wyer and Lund sought guidance from Travel Beyond, a 30-year-old international travel consultancy in Wayzata, Minn., to design their trips. The consultancy has invested more than 25,000 hours personally visiting and pre-screening destinations around the world. This first-hand knowledge was a big comfort to Wyer and Lund.

“Many of today’s baby boomers want an experience that

doesn’t involve a tour bus and hoards of people,” says Craig Beal, chief executive officer of Travel Beyond. “They want to get out and explore new destinations in a way that’s unique to them. That’s why we agonize over the details and customize every aspect of their travel.”

According to Beal, several international destinations have emerged as excellent options for intergenerational travel.

Three to 10 Day Tours  Experience the Uniqueness of Canada
• Observe the polar bears in Churchill
• Ride through the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer
• Visit the 400-year-old city of Old Quebec

Five to 15 Day Tours  Enjoy the Diversity of South America
• Explore the ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru
• Visit the Galapagos Islands, known for its impact on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
• Star gaze through a private observatory in the Atacama Desert of Chile
• Experience ‘March of the Penguins’ in real life in Antarctica

10 to 20 Day Tours  Discover the Wild Side of Africa
• Interact with one of Africa’s oldest tribes (Himba) and see the largest collection of ship wrecks in the world in Namibia
• Seek out the “Big Five” (lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo, rhinos) on a safari through Botswana
• View the impressive Victoria Falls in Zambia, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World

“Many of the trips I’ve taken through Travel Beyond are experiences of a lifetime,” continues Lund. “I’m fortunate to give those experiences to my grandchildren as a special gift. Walking among the iguanas, seeing birds and animals that are unique to that location and exposing them to parts of the world they’ve never heard of before. Those are cherished gifts any grandparent would love to give.”

To learn more about intergenerational travel or general travel to the destinations mentioned above or many other locations, visit

Article courtesy of ARA Content

Seniors Buying Vacation Timeshares

Filed under Travel & Leisure

Let’s face the facts: gone are the days of Motel 6 having a price close to$6 a night or of a Super 8 being not only super, but close to $8 a night. Even our Holiday Inn had humble beginnings and today’s fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks often exceeds the price of an original night at a Holiday Inn. We don’t have the crystal ball on inflation and future vacationing, but we do know that our seniors who want to enjoy the high quality vacations for themselves, with friends, and loved ones, could greatly benefit by having an ownership plan whether vacation ownership or a timeshare to set the future costs with today’s dollars.

With vacation ownership and timeshare, seniors are not sacrificing quality because of money. They get to stay in quality resorts instead of looking for bargain hotels to give their money away to. Seniors can understand own since most have owned homes or cars already. They also understand the idea of getting the ownership paid off and still having an asse for continual enjoyment that can become part of their estate or sold. Ownership gives them more options.

Seniors are looking for programs for programs that offer a variety of travel choices and flexibility. Why is flexibility an important factor to be considered in an ownership? Easy.. As we get older, we find that most of us have more doctor appointments than we were younger. Many life situations crop up that require our attention. By a flexible program, I mean a program that does not require the buyer of the vacation to lock in to a specific week for their vacation every year, in a set sized condo, at only one specific resort.

Flexibility can also be important in reservation planning for vacations. Seniors like to options for flexible planning. Many people make advance reservations to solidify their goals and make plans, yet if something happens to themselves or others in their family, they need a program that can be flexible with options on re-arranging those plans.

Timing and number of days available to vacation are usually different in the senior years. Many people in retirement are no longer working at a full-time job, but to keep active and to supplement income or cover insurance needs, many seniors are working part-time and still need to have flexible vacation planning options.

Seniors are asking for programs which will allow them to be with others on vacation as compared to being by themselves. If someone has lost their partner, or never married, there is comfort, and enjoyment, and a feeling of security when in a group. Some of the vacation ownership companies have programs which arrange group travel and this is a huge plus.

When we ask many of the seniors who visit about what they’ve experienced in vacation and travel, we find that for those who have a dream to visit someplace special while alive, the motivation to get started and to have those experiences can be stronger than in earlier years because of the realization that we’re getting older every day.

One of the most exciting concepts of vacation ownership and timeshare is the ability to share the vacation experiences with loved ones and to have another asset to leave as a legacy for loved ones in the future. My family will have my ownership when I pass, but I made it clear to them to please enjoy while I’m here to see you having fun, don’t wait for me to go to get started enjoying life. I enjoy great pleasures giving gifts of vacation for the family milestones such a college graduation, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrating the birth of new grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Seniors should take a vacation ownership or timeshare presentation with an open mind and heart to determine if owning would help them make their Golden Years “glitter.

Summer Travel Tips for Seniors

Filed under Travel & Leisure

If you were to venture a guess, what would you say is the number one pastime of today’s retirees? It’s not golf, gardening or completing crossword puzzles, but doing something they didn’t have the time to do when they were working: travel.

The idea of visiting new places and seeing things they’ve never seen before — on their own schedule — is a huge draw for the 60 plus crowd. Whether you’re planning a trip across the country, to one of our national parks, or on some other adventure anytime soon, here are some tips that will help ensure you have a great time:

• Consider booking your trip through a travel agent who can offer deals that lump airfare, hotel and sightseeing adventures into a low-cost package.

• Pay for all travel expenses with a major credit card whenever possible. That way, if you encounter any kind of problem during your trip or need to dispute a charge that shows up on your bill, you’ll have the card company to back you.

• If you plan to use public transportation when you get to your destination, always be aware of your surroundings. Pavement may be slippery or uneven when you enter or leave a vehicle. The last thing you want to do is slip and fall. If you’ll be taking a bus, have your fare ready to avoid losing your balance while looking for correct change. If traveling by subway, stand slightly to one side to let people exiting the car get off first you so won’t get knocked down by the crowd.

• Now that summer is here, the sun is shining strongly. Be sure to wear sunscreen if you’ll be spending a lot of time outside to protect yourself from cancer causing UV rays, and stay hydrated. This is easy to do if you always carry a water bottle around with you wherever you go.

• If you’ll be booking the hotel on your own, be sure to ask the concierge if they can accommodate any special needs you may have, like an elevator, refrigerator in your room for medication, etc. You’ll also want to make sure the room is a place where you’re guaranteed to get a good night’s sleep. Some hotels make this a priority.

• Always carry identification that verifies your age so there won’t be any question that you’re entitled to senior discounts. If you have a membership with AARP, AAA, or a professional organization, be sure to carry that card with you too.

You’ve earned your freedom, now go out and enjoy it!

Courtesy of ARAcontent

International Travel Tips for Older Americans

Filed under Travel & Leisure

International travel can be a rich and rewarding adventure. Whether you have waited a lifetime to take the perfect trip or are an experienced world traveler, we would like to offer some advice to help you plan a safe and healthy trip.


Start Early. Apply for your passport as soon as possible. Three months before your departure date should give you plenty of time. See the section, Passports and Visas, for details on how to apply.

Learn About the Countries You Plan to Visit. Before you go, read up on the culture, people, and history for the places you will travel. Bookstores and libraries are good resources. Travel magazines and the travel sections of major newspapers tell about places to visit and also give advice on everything from discount airfares to international health insurance. Many travel agents and foreign tourist bureaus provide free information on travel abroad.

For up-to-date travel information on any country in the world that you plan to visit, obtain the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet. They cover such matters as health conditions, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security conditions, drug penalties, and areas of instability. In addition, the State Department issues Travel Warnings when it recommends Americans defer travel to a country because of unsafe conditions. Travel Warnings are under continuous review by the Department of State and are removed when conditions warrant. The Department of State also issues Public Announcements as a means to disseminate information quickly about relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions which would pose significant risks to the security of American travelers.

How to Access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements may be heard any time by dialing the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225 from a touchtone phone. The recording is updated as new information becomes available.

By Fax
From your fax machine, dial (202) 647-3000, using the handset as you would a regular telephone. The system prompts you on how to proceed.

By Internet
Information about travel and consular services is now available on the Internet’s World Wide Web. The address is Visitors to the web site will find Travel Warnings, Public Announcements and Consular Information Sheets, passport and visa information, travel publications, background on international adoption and international child abduction services, international legal assistance, and the Consular Affairs mission statement. There is also a link to the State Department’s main site on the Internet’s World Wide Web that provides users with current foreign affairs information. The address is Consular Affairs Bulletin Board – CABB

If you have a personal computer, modem and communication software, you can access the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). This service is free of

charge. To view or download the documents from a computer and modem, dial the CABB on (301) 946-4400. The login is travel; the password is info.

Passport. Pack an “emergency kit” to help you get a replacement passport in case yours is lost or stolen. To make a kit: photocopy the data page at the front of your passport; write down the addresses and telephone numbers of the U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries you plan to visit; and put this information along with two recent passport-size photographs in a place separate from your passport.

Leave a Detailed Itinerary. Give a friend or relative your travel schedule. Include names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons and places to be visited; your passport number and the date and place it was issued; and credit card, travelers check, and airline ticket numbers. Keep a copy of this information for yourself in a separate place from your purse or wallet. If you change your travel plans–for example, if you miss your return flight to the United States or extend your trip–be sure to notify relatives or friends at home. Don’t Overprogram. Allow time to relax and really enjoy yourself. Even if this is your once-in-a-lifetime trip, don’t feel you have to fill every available minute.

If you are visiting a country such as China, where physical activity can be quite strenuous and sudden changes in diet and climate can have serious health consequences for the unprepared traveler, consult your physician before you depart.

What to Pack. Carefully consider the clothing you take. Don’t pack more than you need and end up lugging around heavy suitcases. Wash-and-wear clothing and sturdy walking shoes are good ideas. Consider the climate and season in the countries you will visit and bring an extra outfit for unexpectedly warm or cool weather. A sweater or shawl is always useful for cooler evenings and air-conditioned planes and hotels. Dress conservatively–a wardrobe that is flashy or too causal may attract the attention of thieves or con artists.

Include a change of clothing in your carry-on luggage. Otherwise, if your bags are lost, you could be wearing the same clothes you were traveling in during the entire time it takes to locate your luggage–an average of 72 hours.

Do not pack anything that you would hate to lose such as valuable jewelry, family photographs, or objects of sentimental value.


Passports. It is a good idea to apply 3 months before you plan to travel. If you also need visas, allow more time as you must have a valid passport before applying for a visa. If this is your first passport, you must apply in person, bringing with you proof of U.S. citizenship (usually a certified copy of your birth certificate, previous U.S. passport, a naturalization certificate, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad); 2 identical recent front-view photos (2″ x 2″); a completed passport application (Form DSP-11); proof of identity, such as a valid drivers license or other photo or physical-description I.D.; and the appropriate fee for a passport valid for 10 years. Click here to see a chart of passport fees.

You may apply at any passport agency (see list at the end of this pamphlet) or at one of the many clerks of court or post offices designated to accept passport applications. Your birth certificate or other documents will be returned to you by mail, along with your new passport. You may be eligible to apply for a passport by mail. If you have had a passport issued within the past 12 years and you are able to mail that passport with your application, you can use Form DSP-82, “Application for Passport by Mail,” to apply. Obtain this form from any office that accepts passport applications or from your travel agent. Follow the instructions on the back of the form. Click here to see a chart of passport fees.

If you are leaving on an emergency trip within two weeks, apply in person at the nearest passport agency and present your tickets and itinerary from an airline, as well as the other required items. Or, apply at a court or post office and arrange to have the application sent to the passport agency through an overnight delivery service of your choice. (You should also include a self-addressed, pre-paid envelope for the return of the passport by express mail.) Be sure to include your dates of departure, travel plans on your application and all appropriate fees (including the $35 expedite fee).

When you receive your passport, be sure to sign it on page 1 and to pencil in on page 4 the requested information. This will help us notify your family or friends in case of an accident or other emergency. Do not designate your traveling companion as the person to be notified in case of an emergency.

Visas. Many countries require a visa–an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government that permits you to visit that country for a specified purpose and a limited time. A number of countries require you to obtain a visa from the embassy or consular office nearest to your residence. The addresses of foreign consular offices can be found in telephone directories of large cities or in the Congressional Directory, available in most libraries; or you may write to the appropriate embassy in Washington, D.C. and request the address of their consulate that is nearest to you. You can also obtain the Department of State booklet, Foreign Entry Requirements, which lists visa and other entry requirements and locations of all foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. To order this booklet see page 11. Apply for your visa directly to the embassy or consulate of each country you plan to visit or ask your travel agent to assist you with visas. U.S. passport agencies cannot obtain visas for you.

An increasing number of countries are establishing entry requirements regarding AIDS testing, particularly for long-term residents and students. Check with the embassy or consulate of the countries you plan to visit for the latest information.


Health problems sometimes affect visitors abroad. Information on health precautions can be obtained from local health departments or private doctors. General guidance can also be found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) book, Health Information for International Travel, available for $14.00 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or the CDC’s international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559.

Health Insurance. It is wise to review your health insurance policy before you travel. In some places, particularly at resorts, medical costs can be as high or higher than in the United States. If your insurance policy does not cover you abroad, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a policy that does. There are short-term health insurance policies designed specifically to cover travel. If your travel agent cannot direct you to a medical assistance company, look for information in travel magazines. The U.S. government cannot pay to have you medically evacuated to the United States.

The Social Security Medicare program does not provide for payment of hospital or medical services obtained outside the United States. However, some Medicare supplement plans offer foreign medical care coverage at no extra cost for treatments considered eligible under Medicare. These are reimbursement plans. You must pay the bills first and obtain receipts for submission them later for compensation. Many of these plans have a dollar ceiling per trip.

Review your health insurance policy. Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be expensive. If your Medicare supplement or other medical insurance does not provide protection while traveling outside the United States, we strongly urge you to buy coverage that does. The names of some of the companies offering short-term health and emergency assistance policies are listed in the Bureau of Consular Affairs flyer, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad. The flyer is available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Bureau of Consular Affairs, Room 6831, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818 (or via the automated systems mentioned under How to Access Consular Information Sheets).

Trip Insurance. One sure way to ruin a vacation is to lose money because an emergency forces you to postpone or cancel your trip. Except for tickets on regularly scheduled airlines, almost any travel package you purchase will have a penalty for cancellation and some companies will give no refund at all. Regularly scheduled airlines usually give a refund if an illness or death in the family forces you to cancel. Airlines require a note from the doctor or a death certificate. Take careful note of the cancellation penalty for any other large travel purchase you make, such as a tour package, charter flight, or cruise. Unless you can afford to lose the purchase amount, protect yourself by buying trip insurance. If you invest in trip insurance, make sure your policy covers all reasonable possibilities for having to cancel. For instance, if an emergency with a family member would force you to cancel, insure against that as well.

Some trip insurance policies will give a refund if the company goes out of business or otherwise does not make good on its offering. The best insurance against company default is to choose a reputable company that guarantees a refund if they do not provide the services procured. If, however, you are tempted to purchase a tour at a great bargain price and you can’t find a guarantee of delivery in the fine print, protect yourself by purchasing trip insurance that covers company default.

Shop around for the trip insurance policy that offers the most benefits. Some credit card and traveler’s check companies offer travel protection packages for an additional fee. Benefits may even include accident and illness coverage while traveling.

Immunizations. Information on immunizations and health precautions for travelers can be obtained from local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559, private doctors, or travel clinics. General guidance can also be found in the U.S. Public Health Service book, Health Information for International Travel. Immunizations are normally recommended against diptheria, tetanus, polio, typhoid, and hepatitis A for travelers. Generally, these immunizations are administered during childhood.

Medical Assistance Programs. One strong advantage of medical assistance programs is that they also cover the exorbitant cost of medical evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness. As part of the coverage, these companies usually offer emergency consultation by telephone. They may refer you to the nearest hospital or call directly for help for you. If you need an interpreter, they may translate your instructions to a health care worker on the scene. Another benefit that is normally part of such coverage is payment for the return of remains to the United States in case of death.

If your regular health insurance already covers you for medical expenses abroad, you can buy a medical assistance program that offers all the consultative and evacuation services listed above except for the health insurance itself. Cost of medical assistance coverage is usually inexpensive without health insurance coverage or a little more for the complete medical assistance program including health insurance. On the other hand, escorted medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars.

If your travel agent cannot direct you to a medical assistance company, look for information on such services in travel magazines. Once you have adequate coverage, carry your insurance policy identity cards and claim forms with you when you travel.

Medication. If you require medication, bring an ample supply in its original containers. Do not use pill cases. Because of strict laws concerning narcotics throughout the world, bring along copies of your prescriptions and, if possible, carry a letter from your physician explaining your need for the drug. As an extra precaution, carry the generic names of your medications with you because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different names from those used in the United States.

If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair with you. Pack medicines and extra eyeglasses in your hand luggage so they will be available in case your checked luggage is lost. To be extra secure, pack a backup supply of medicines and an additional pair of eyeglasses in your checked luggage. If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet. You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining desired treatment should you become ill.

Medical Assistance Abroad. If you get sick, you can contact a consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a list of local doctors, dentists, and medical specialists, along with other medical information. If you are injured or become seriously ill, a consul will help you find medical assistance and, at your request, inform your family or friends. The list of English speaking doctors is also available before you travel by writing to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811, 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520. Please specify to which country you will be traveling.

Health Precautions. Air pollution abroad may sometimes be severe. Air pollution and high altitudes are a particular health risk for the elderly and persons with high blood pressure, anemia, or respiratory or cardiac problems. If this applies to you, consult your doctor before traveling.

In high altitude areas most people need a short adjustment period. If traveling to such an area, spend the first few days in a leisurely manner with a light diet and reduced intake of alcohol. Avoid strenuous activity, this includes everything from sports to rushing up the stairs. Reaction signs to high altitude are lack of energy, a tendency to tire easily, shortness of breath, occasional dizziness, and insomnia.

If possible, drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for 20 minutes. Be aware of ice cubes that may not have been made with purified water. Vegetables and fruits should be peeled or washed in a purifying solution. A good rule to follow is if you can’t peel it or cook it, do not eat it. Diarrhea may be treated with antimicrobial treatment which may be prescribed or purchased over the counter. Travelers should consult a physician, rather than attempt self-medication, if the diarrhea is severe or persists several days.

Charter Flights. Before you pay for a charter flight or travel package, read your contract carefully and see what guarantee it gives that the company will deliver the services that it is trying to sell you. Tour operators sometimes go out of business in the middle of a season, leaving passengers stranded, holding unusable return tickets and unable to obtain a refund for the unused portion of their trip. Unless you are certain a company is reputable, check its credentials with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB maintains complaint files for a year. You can also check with the consumer affairs office of the American Society of Travel Agents, 1101 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, tel. (703) 739-2782 to learn if a travel company has a complaint record.


Don’t Take Your Money in Cash. Bring most of your money in traveler’s checks. Have a reasonable amount of cash with you, but not more than you will need for a day or two. Convert your traveler’s checks to local currency as you use them rather than all at once.

You may also wish to bring at least one internationally-recognized credit card. Before you leave, find out what your credit card limit is and do not exceed it. In some countries, travelers who have innocently exceeded their limit have been arrested for fraud. Leave unneeded credit cards at home.

ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) are becoming increasingly popular in some of the more modern countries abroad. Often these ATMs can be accessed by your local bank card depending on which service is available. The exchange rates are comparable to the going rate of exchange. Check with your local bank to find out which ATM service is available in the country you plan to visit. Because ATMs may not always be available, this should be used as only a backup method and not depended on solely for all your financial transactions abroad. If you must take jewelry or other valuables, use hotel security vaults to store them. It is wise to register such items with U.S. Customs before leaving the United States to make customs processing easier when you return.

It is a violation of law in some countries to enter or exit with that countrys currency. Check with a travel agent or the embassy or consulate of the countries you plan to visit to learn their currency restrictions. Before departing from the U.S., you may wish, if allowed, to purchase small amounts of foreign currency and coins to use for buses, taxis, telephone calls, and other incidentals when you first arrive in a country. You may purchase foreign currency from some banks or from foreign exchange dealers. Most international airports also have money exchange facilities.

Once you are abroad, local banks generally give more favorable rates of exchange than hotels, restaurants, or stores for converting your U.S. dollars and traveler’s checks into foreign currency.


Driving. U.S. auto insurance is usually not valid outside of the United States and Canada. When you drive in any other country, be sure to buy adequate auto insurance in that country. When renting a car abroad, make certain that adequate insurance is part of your contract; otherwise, purchase additional coverage in an amount similar to that which you carry at home. Also, prior to driving in a foreign country, familiarize yourself with the metric system since countries abroad display speed limits in kilometers per hour. REMEMBER: If you plan to rent a car, keep in mind which side of the road traffic moves. Unlike the U.S., many countries drive on the left hand side of the road.

Flying. On overseas flights, break up long periods of sitting. Leave your seat from time to time and also do in-place exercises. This will help prevent you from arriving tired and stiff-jointed. Also, get some exercise after a long flight. For example, take a walk or use your hotel’s exercise room.

Reconfirm. Upon arrival at each stopover, reconfirm your onward reservations. When possible, obtain a written confirmation. International flights generally require confirmation 72 hours in advance. If your name does not appear on the reservation list, you could find yourself stranded.

Register. If you plan to be in a location for 2 weeks or more or in an area where there is civil unrest or any other emergency situation, register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. This will help in locating you, should someone in the United States wish to confirm your safety and welfare or need to contact you urgently.


Respect the Local Laws and Customs. While abroad, you are subject to the laws and regulations of your host country and are not protected by the U.S. Constitution. If you should be detained by local authorities, ask them to notify a U.S. consular officer. Under international agreements and practice, you have a right to contact an American consul. Although U.S. consuls cannot act as your attorney or get you out of jail, they can provide you with a list of local attorneys and inform you of your rights under local laws. They will also monitor the status of detained Americans and make sure they are treated fairly under local laws.

Guard Your Passport. Your passport is the most valuable document you carry abroad. It confirms that you are an American citizen. Do not carry your passport in the same place as your money or pack it in your luggage. Remember to keep your passport number in a separate location in case it is lost or stolen. In some countries, you may be required to leave your passport overnight or for several days with the hotel management. This may be local practice–do not be concerned unless the passport is not returned as promised. If your passport is lost or stolen abroad, immediately report it to the local police, obtain a copy of the report, and contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new passport.

Be Alert. Move purposefully and confidently. If you should find yourself in a crowded area, such as in an elevator, subway, marketplace, or in busy tourist areas, exercise special caution to avoid theft.

Robbery. Help prevent theft by carrying your belongings securely. Carry purses tucked under an arm and not dangling by a strap. Carry valuables hidden in an inside front pocket or in a money belt, not in a hip pocket. You may wish to wrap your wallet with rubber bands to make it more difficult for someone to slip it from your pocket unnoticed. Money belts or pouches that fit around your shoulder, waist or under clothing are available through some luggage shops and department stores.


Emergencies. If you encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties or other problems abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. Although consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, they can help you find legal assistance. Consular officers cannot cash checks, lend money, or act as travel agents. However, in an emergency, consular officers can help you get in touch with your family back home to inform them on how to wire funds to you and to let them know of your situation. Consular officers can also provide you with the latest information about adverse conditions abroad.

Nonemergencies. Consular officers also provide nonemergency services such as information on absentee voting and acquisition or loss of U.S. citizenship. They can arrange for the transfer of Social Security and other benefits to Americans residing abroad, provide U.S. tax forms, notarize documents, and advise U.S. citizens on property claims.

Safeguarding Your Health. If you are injured or become seriously ill abroad, a U.S. consular officer will assist you in finding a physician or other medical services, and, with your permission, will inform your family members or friends of your condition. If needed, consular officers can assist your family in transferring money to the foreign country to pay for your treatment.

Death Abroad. Each year, about 6,000 Americans die abroad. Two thirds of them are Americans who live overseas, but approximately 2,000 Americans per year die while visiting abroad. Consular officers will contact the next of kin in the United States and will explain the local requirements. It is a worthwhile precaution to have insurance that covers the cost of local burial or shipment of remains home to the United States (see information on medical assistance programs). Otherwise, this cost must be borne by your next of kin and can be extremely expensive. The U.S. government cannot pay for shipment of remains to the United States.


Beware of purchasing souvenirs made from endangered wildlife. Many wildlife and wildlife products are prohibited either by U.S. or foreign laws from import into the United States. You risk confiscation and a possible fine if you attempt to import such things. Watch out for and avoid purchasing the following prohibited items:All products made from sea turtles. All ivory, both Asian and African.

Furs from spotted cats.
Furs from marine mammals.
Feathers and feather products from wild birds.
All live or stuffed birds from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, and some Caribbean countries.
Most crocodile and caiman leather.
Most coral, whether in chunks or in jewelry.


Be Prepared. On arrival in the United States, have your passport ready when you go through immigration and customs controls. Keep receipts for any items you purchased abroad. U.S. citizens may bring back and orally declare $400 worth of merchandise duty free. The next $1000 is taxed at a flat rate of 10%. Check with U.S. Customs for further information.

Currency. There is no limit on the amount of money or negotiable instruments which can be brought into or taken out of the United States. However, any amount over $10,000 must be reported to U.S. Customs on Customs Form 4790 when you depart from or enter into the United States. Foreign Produce. Don’t bring home any fresh fruits or vegetables. Such items will be confiscated.


For the official word on immunizations, customs, what you can legally bring into the United States, and how to protect yourself from business fraud, you may order one of the following U.S. Government publications:

Health Information for International Travel is a comprehensive listing of immunization requirements of foreign governments. In addition, it gives the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations on immunizations and other health precautions for international travelers. Copies are available for $14 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; tel. (202) 512-1800.

Know Before You Go, Customs Hints for Returning U.S. Residents gives detailed information on U.S. Customs regulations, including duty rates. Single copies are available free from any local Customs office or by writing to the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7407, Washington, D.C. 20044.

Article courtesy of US Dept. of State Bureau of Consular Affairs


Home Exchange is the Newest Travel Option

Filed under Travel & Leisure

How would you like to have free accommodations the next time you travel — not in a hotel but in a comfortable home away from home. The Broggers of Los Angeles, Calif., are among the growing number of worldwide travelers who have discovered the secret of home exchange and the “ticket” to incredible vacation opportunities.

They recently swapped their three-bedroom suburban Los Angeles home with families in Spain and Mallorca for a one-month vacation. “The benefits of having a home away from home are fantastic,” says Suzanne Brogger. “We got to experience Europe in a way most tourists can’t do and saved thousands of dollars. Plus we knew someone would be looking after our house. Without doing a home exchange, we would never been able to make this trip with a 1-year-old who gets up at 6 a.m. and wants to start playing with toys and have breakfast.”

The home exchange concept is simple; you stay in someone’s home while they stay in yours. For your next vacation, you can visit Disneyland, San Francisco or New York City in the United States, stay in a quaint cottage in the French countryside, a London apartment, or an Australian beach house. Take off for a long weekend or a month long trip; wherever you want to go, home exchange can make your travel dreams come true. Thousands of homes are available worldwide.

The Brogger family used to arrange their vacation. “It was so fast and so easy we couldn’t believe it. I found myself glued to the computer, amazed at all of the opportunities,” says Brogger of the experience. “The Web site makes it simple to find and contact potential exchange partners. Our biggest problem was trying to decide among all the great listings posted on the site and the many inquiries we received. The descriptions of the homes, neighborhood and families make you feel comfortable even before your first contact, and by the time you confirm a swap, you feel your home exchange partner is a friend, not a stranger.”

Except for airfare and a few incidentals, the Brogger’s four-week vacation didn’t cost them much more than staying at home. Their exchange partner’s friends and neighbors gave them first-hand information about the area’s tourist attractions, they shopped in the local markets, and lived like locals, not tourists.

“The bottom line is that we’re now able to vacation more often and longer than we would with conventional vacations,” adds Brogger. “And you don’t have to travel far away or overseas. I have some friends who do weekend exchanges from Southern California to Santa Barbara, San Francisco or the local mountains. Those trips, which might otherwise cost $500 to $1,000, are suddenly affordable when you trade homes.”

Tens of thousands of couples, retired people, even singles swap their homes or apartments every year. “A family with a large home in England doesn’t necessarily need a 5,000-square-foot house in New York City,” explains Ed Kushins, president of “Considering their alternative may be a small $250 per night hotel room, your one-bedroom loft may be perfect for them. If you’re thinking that your small home or cozy apartment might not measure up, think again. What you consider modest might be very special to someone from another country,” he adds.

Listing your own home on costs only $49.95 for an unlimited one year membership, meaning you can make as many exchanges for as long as you want with no hidden fees and no per-trade or per-day fees. And their no-questions-asked guarantee gives you a second year free if for any reason you don’t have a successful exchange in your first year. Membership features 24 hour access to Listings, unlimited photos, e-mail notification when new listings come in from areas you are interested in, your own member control panel where you can edit your listing or add photos at any time, helpful hints, FAQ, and complete privacy protection.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

Next Page »