Advice for mature and older travellers
Whatever your age and destination, properly preparing before you travel and staying in good health will help you have a great trip. This page provides mature travellers with information to prepare for a hassle-free and safe journey.
When you travel overseas, you leave behind Australia's support systems, emergency service capabilities and medical facilities. The Australian Government will do what it can to help Australians in difficulty overseas. There are legal and practical limits to what can be done to assist travellers in other countries. Have realistic expectations about this and read the Consular Services Charter before you go.
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The better prepared you are, the safer and more enjoyable your travel will be.
Read the travel advice
Start with the latest travel advice for your destination. This advice provides information on the main risks you may face and precautions you can take while travelling. Our travel advice also includes practical information on the safety and security situation, local laws and health issues.
Passports and visas
Your passport is your most important travel document. All Australian citizens must have a valid passport before leaving Australia and maintain a valid passport while overseas.
Be aware that countries have different passport validity requirements. Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country. Carry extra passport photos just in case something happens to your passport and you need to replace it while you're away.
Find out early what visas you need by contacting the foreign mission (embassy, high commission or consulate) of the countries you intend to visit. Some countries have specific entry and exit requirements, including compulsory vaccinations. A tourist visa may not allow you to undertake any form of work—including voluntary or unpaid activities. Check the visa requirements of countries you might be transiting. Contact details for foreign missions are in the White Pages or on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
More information on Australian passports is at the Australian Passport Office website. You can also call the Australian Passport Information Service on 13 12 32 in Australia.
- the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can't help you arrange visas or work and residency permits for other countries
- a visa doesn't guarantee entry to a foreign country
- in most cases, a tourist visa doesn't allow you to work in a foreign country including voluntary or unpaid activities
If you are a dual national read our dual nationals page for more information.
Research your destination
Find out about the political, cultural and economic environment of your destination so you'll know what to expect. Consult the travel advice for your destination and either purchase a guide book or search the internet for recent information. Talk with family or friends who are familiar with the countries you'll be visiting. You could also consult the country briefs available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website to learn more about your destinations.
If you're concerned the airline may question your fitness to fly, get a letter from your doctor confirming you're fit for air travel.
If you have a disability, call your airline to find out about services such as shuttle services, seating arrangements and special meals.
If you need to carry medication, needles or syringes with you, get a letter from your doctor saying why you need them. Seek early advice from your airline on how to comply with enhanced airport and air travel security regulations.
There are rules about how leaving Australia affects Centrelink payments or concession cards. You should check the Department of Human Services website to find out how any absence from Australia could affect your payment.
If you're travelling independently, book your accommodation before you get there.
Keep in touch
Keep in touch with your family or friends. Many travellers use email or their Australian mobile phones to keep in touch. Contact your Australian mobile phone provider to arrange global roaming before you travel. If you want to minimise global roaming costs, check if pre-paid mobile phone services are available in your planned destinations and purchase a local SIM card.
You should subscribe to travel advice for your destination. You will receive updates straight to your inbox. You can also opt in to receive SMS ‘critical alerts’ for crises overseas.
We strongly encourage you to subscribe so you’re well-informed for your trip overseas.
Protect yourself against loss and theft by carrying minimal luggage. When your overloaded, you make yourself more vulnerable to bag snatchers and pickpockets. Secure your credit cards and passports in a money belt or under your clothes.
If you're travelling to the USA, make sure you understand its specific airline baggage lock requirements. Information is available from the US Department of Homeland Security.
Money and valuables
You can take a number of steps to protect yourself against loss and theft of money and valuables.
- Organise a variety of ways of accessing your money overseas, such as debit and credit cards, traveller's cheques and cash.
- Check with your bank if your ATM card will work overseas.
- Register with your bank the period you expect to be travelling.
- Never let your credit card out of your sight.
- Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, travel insurance policy, visas and credit cards. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave the other with someone at home.
- Take your senior citizens card. It may be recognised in some places overseas.
Staying healthy overseas
Think about your health needs before you travel.
Make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic check-up at least eight weeks before you leave. Find out if you destinations require any vaccinations or health checks.
Be cautious of purchasing and taking medication overseas without consulting a qualified medical professional.
If you're taking medicines overseas, we recommend you:
- discuss with your doctor the medication you'll need to take
- carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medication is, how much you'll be taking with you, and that it's for your personal use
- leave the medication in its original packaging so it's clearly labelled with your name and dosage instructions
If you're travelling with medication, make sure it's legal in the countries you're visiting. Do this by contacting the relevant embassy or consulate in Australia before leaving home.
If you need to travel with large quantities of medication, it's good practice to separate the quantity between your luggage, in case bags go missing. Keep medication in the original, labelled container to avoid customs problems.
If it’s allowed in the countries you're visiting, it may be preferable to carry your own needles and syringes for injections. If you buy needles and syringes overseas, make sure they’re sealed and sterile.
Take enough medication to cover the length of your trip. If you need to buy it locally, be careful not to buy imitation or counterfeit products. Packaging and labelling may be similar to that in Australia, but the strength and active ingredients can vary from country to country. Always check the strength of a medication with a doctor.
Unless it’s for your personal use or an immediate family member travelling with you, it’s against the law to carry or send Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medication overseas. Penalties include a fine up to $5,000 and two years in prison if you break the law.
More information on travelling with medication and medical devices:
- Sending PBS medicines overseas – Department of Human Services (Medicare)
- Travelling with medicines and medical devices – Therapeutic Goods Administration
If you wear glasses, take a spare pair and/or a copy of the prescription. That way you can replace them more easily if lost or broken.
Reciprocal health care agreements
Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
These agreements can cover or subsidise some emergency medical costs. This is usually for urgent treatment that can't wait until you get home.
Each country with an agreement decides what they'll cover or subsidise. The treating doctor determines if your condition is a 'medical necessity'. We can't intervene in their processes or policies.
It's important to remember that healthcare agreements are no substitute for travel insurance. They won't cover you if a doctor recommends medical evacuation back to Australia.
Department of Veterans' Affairs
If you receive a pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), advise DVA of your plans to travel overseas before you leave. Ask about the possible implications for your pension and healthcare entitlements. A DVA 'gold card' or DVA healthcare card does not guarantee that DVA will cover your medical costs while you're overseas. Further information is available on the Department of Veterans' Affairs website.
Final tips before you go
- Read the travel advice for the countries you plan to visit and subscribe for email notifications of updates.
- Many guidebooks and online forums cover issues travellers may encounter. Talk to friends, family and colleagues who have travelled to the places you plan to visit.
- Leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home, and plan to keep in regular contact.
- Plan before you leave to choose a destination where you'll feel safe, comfortable, and prepared for any issues you might face.
- See our general advice topics on taking care of your health
- Before you go, get travel insurance
- See our advice for all travellers
- Read the travel advice for your destination, and subscribe for updates in case things change
- To find out more about healthy travel and vaccinations you can read the Australian Immunisation Handbook
- Further information about health care when travelling overseas and international health agreements is available at the Medicare website
- More information on current health emergencies on the World Health Organization website
Getting medical assistance overseas can be challenging and expensive, especially in an emergency. Read our advice on what to do when when you need help.
When you go overseas, you may be exposed to a range of infectious diseases. Before you go, learn about the health risks in your destination and see your doctor.