Summer Vacation – What You Need Besides Your Suitcase

July 4, 2018

With so many amazing places to visit in the world that are more accessible than ever, travel abroad can be wonderful. It can also be risky. Even the most basic issues can be difficult when you do not speak the native language and are unfamiliar with local laws. There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself. Below is a list of what you need to know before you venture outside of the United States.

1) Know the Laws

Traveling overseas can be a legal labyrinth. You need to know the local laws that govern the places you will travel regardless if they are first world or third world countries. Ever seen the movie Return to Paradise? The main character Lewis gets sentenced to death after purchasing illegal drugs. Lewis was likely unaware of the severe consequences of his choice. Know the laws and be aware of local customs. Start by looking at the State Department’s website at Travel.State.Gov for a wealth of useful information. Also, do some independent research to stay abreast of any unusual laws in the country that you will be travelling to.

2) Expect the Unexpected

We’ve all been there – we drank the local water and ended up spending most of our vacation in the bathroom or worse, in the hospital. While health care is generally cheaper in countries outside of the U.S, those costs can quickly add up; especially if you need to be transported back home.

An easy solution is to purchase travel medical insurance. There are many providers and coverage is generally quite affordable. For instance, a 38 year old traveling to Europe can receive up to $2 million in coverage for roughly $136.  Of course, specific coverage depends on numerous factors including where you are travelling to and how many places you will be visiting.

MedJetAssist is an emergency service for jetsetters – with an excellent benefit. If you have a medical emergency more than 150 miles from home, MedJetAssist will arrange for air transport back to the hospital of your choice and at no additional charge.

Another solution can be found through your American Express Platinum Card. Amex will pay medical fees of up to $2.5 million through the Platinum Card. If you do not have the Platinum Card you can still take advantage of Amex’s Global Assist Hotline, which provides emergency medical and legal advice, passport replacement, and other services when you travel more than 100 miles from home, which comes with most Amex card products.

3) Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate

The most common Power of Attorney used with estate planning is the Durable Power of Attorney. It allows you to select a person to “step into your shoes” if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. With a properly executed Power of Attorney, the agent will be able to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf.
A Health Care Surrogate, allows you to plan ahead for difficult medical decisions.  It allows you to name someone that will make health care decisions for you in case you are unable to make them yourself. This is crucial because it prevents disagreements within the family as to who should make these critical decisions.  Such decisions include consenting to certain medical procedures, seeking a second opinion, obtaining medical records, or transferring you to a different medical facility.

Both of these documents are crucial in case of an emergency abroad. While laws vary in different countries, the rule of comity should render your documents valid outside of the U.S.

4) Carry Copies

What if you are unable to communicate? How will anyone know about your health-related papers? Carry a paper set. Having an electronic version will not help if you are in a remote location.

5) Leave an Itinerary with a Loved One

This person should not be someone who is traveling with you.  Leave them with a detailed itinerary about your travels. This way your loved ones can check in on you should they become concerned.  Also, they can get in touch with you in the event they need to inform you of an important event back home.

A Back-Up Plan will Give you Peace of Mind

While it is impossible to account for every situation that may arise while we travel; having a back-up plan never hurts. On your next trip be prepared with tools and strategies just in case things go south, that way you can have peace of mind on your next adventure. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law today at (954) 251-0332 or to learn how proper estate planning can aid your travel plans.