Hot temperatures are here to stay and for many in Arizona that means traveling to cooler locales, perhaps even overseas. According to a recent AARP Travel survey, Baby Boomers, those born between 1946-1964, expect to take four or five leisure trips this year, most traveling for summer vacations or weekend getaways.

Cary Schnitzer, MD, MMM, is the chief medical officer, directing care delivery and population health for OptumCare Network of Arizona.

According to the survey, about 57 percent of Boomers travel to spend time with family and friends, the same amount as last year. The survey also says that 49 percent of Boomers say they travel to relax and rejuvenate (up from 38 percent in 2017), and 47 percent are looking for a getaway from everyday life (up from 39 percent).

Despite the hopes to relax, travel can be taxing, even on the young, but for older adults it can present even more challenges. Before hitting the road or skies it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure they stay healthy. Things to consider before going on a trip include medications, dietary restrictions, physical disabilities, health insurance and safety. 

Here’s a checklist of what to consider before traveling this summer:

See your doctor: Before a trip, make an appointment with your doctor. For international trips, make sure you have the necessary vaccinations. Ask your doctor for a list of your current medications and any necessary medical information in case you need to see a doctor or visit a hospital while you are away. Discuss how to change your medication schedule if traveling in different time zones.

Check your health insurance: Before traveling, take time to review your health plan and understand what it covers. For people traveling domestically, check if your health plan offers a national or local network of hospitals and health care providers, and confirm what level of coverage is available at out-of-network facilities. Also consider international medical coverage; most domestic health plans provide limited coverage overseas.

Refill medication: Take enough medication with you to last the entire trip, plus a bit extra for unexpected delays. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, ask your doctor for a prescription for additional medication. Pack medications in your carry-on instead of your luggage in case your luggage gets lost.

Tell a family member: Share your itinerary with family or friends. Check in and let them know you are safe, and make sure they can reach you if necessary.

Keep your health and safety in mind: Try to take nonstop flights when possible to help avoid fatigue and stress. Check your luggage to avoid stress on your arms and back, and pack a light carry-on in case you need to change planes or have a long walk through the airport. Don’t be afraid to ask for a wheelchair.

Following these tips will help you focus on fun, friends and family during those summer vacations, while helping alleviate stress when it comes to your health.


Cary Schnitzer, MD, MMM, is the chief medical officer, directing care delivery and population health for OptumCare Network of Arizona.