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Older travellers

Older travellers
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Travel health tips for senior travellers

Whether you are exploring a new destination or visiting friends and family, you will want to take good care of your health. Follow our advice to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

Long-term conditions

We recommend that travellers see one of our travel health advisers – but if you are living with a long-term condition, for example, heart disease or diabetes, see your normal healthcare provider first. They will be able to give you specific advice tailored to your needs, and can help you anticipate the effects of altitude, heat and humidity. They may also give you some information for your travel health adviser.

Your normal healthcare provider can help you to arrange an extra supply of your medication for you to carry. Letters and notes about your condition are also useful, and copies of your prescriptions, too.


That extra supply of medication is important: depending on where you are, it may be difficult to obtain the exact brand that you use at home. This is why it is best to carry your own supply. In some places, for example, on islands, you may have to wait a few days for a delivery of your medication to come in by boat.

Bear in mind that some countries have different rules about medications and drugs. For example, in The Gambia certain medications, such as codeine and diazepam, are illegal. Check the Foreign Office’s advice for the country you are visiting. Keep all your medication in its original packaging and take a copy of your prescription and a doctor’s letter, too.

Travel insurance

Check that your travel insurance provides all the cover you need. Healthcare abroad can be expensive. And bear in mind that if you fall ill, you may not be able to use your booked tickets, so repatriation should be covered too. It may seem a bit morbid, but you might also want to think about what you would like to happen should you die abroad.


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a life-threatening blood clot in the leg and has been linked to long-haul flights. Your risk of DVT increases with age, so you should be aware of the symptoms, which include:

  • calf pain, often a heavy ache that gets worse if you bend your foot up towards your knee
  • warm skin near the clot
  • red skin at the back of the leg below the knee.

If you suspect you have a DVT, get medical advice. Do not wait until you get home. Read more about DVT on NHS Choices.

Get your shots

Make an appointment with a travel health adviser at one of our travel clinics, eight to six weeks before departure. Travel shots are particularly important if you have an underlying health condition. Some shots, such as yellow fever, offer life-long protection, but you might need a booster for others.

Your travel health adviser will also tell you about avoiding food- and water-borne illnesses. They can advise on sun safety and also avoiding insect bites. Your adviser can help you find a regime of anti-malarials that works for you, too.