Getting Your Ducks in a Row Before You Travel

Not to be the voice of doom, but someday we are all going to die.

Hopefully, this happens when we are old, grey, and withered with at least 95 years of memories and, while lying on a chaise lounge in the South of France, surrounded by loved ones and soused on really good red wine. But the fact is, it is one of the few certainties in life.

Why do I bring up this topic on a gorgeous Tuesday? Not to harsh your vibe but because it is related to the most important travel tip I can give you: have a your legal paperwork in order! In addition to updating vaccinations and buying travel insurance THIS is the best thing you can do to prepare for your trip.

“This is a good place to be – controlled, but not controlling“

I am a planner and I love to plan for travel. Planning things to see and do, what to wear, and who will take care of things (house, dog, mail, etc.) while I am away. I think it’s because I spent much of my 20s as the grasshopper from Aesop’s fable. Playing the proverbial fiddle and not really planning for the future. I snapped out of it, but then my pendulum swung the other way and I became a bit obsessed with ensuring my life was organized. These days, I’ve relaxed (a bit) and appreciate a good plan with a solid understanding that if it all falls apart that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. This is a good place to be – controlled, but not controlling (and if anyone who knows me reads this, you better not disagree with me 😎).

By having a solid plan I know that when/if the wheels DO come off (my trip goes awry), I won’t go careening into the ditch (my finances/house/dog will be safe). Things can happen at my house when I am gone or something could happen to me while traveling. It is good to have both situations covered with the right legal documents.

Here are the documents to have on file:

  • Temporary Will (like a regular will but includes the specific dates of your trip)
  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care (this gives your designee the legal authority to make health care decisions for/about you when you can (including life or death).
  • A DNR (do not resuscitate) order (this ensures that your wishes are respected should you not want extreme life-saving measures taken on your behalf.
  • HIPPA authorization (this is written consent that lets doctors and health care professionals discuss your medical situation with family members).
  • Travel insurance policies

You may want to consider getting a Living Will and Living Trust documents, depending on your situation. Keep in mind, these cover you and your concerns in the US. When you are in a forein country, your documents may not offer you a lot of help should you be hospitalized. It is always good to sign up for STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a free service that allows American citizens (traveling or living abroad) to enroll with the nearest American embassy or consulate.

(NOTE: I am NOT an attorney and this is NOT legal advice. Do your homework to be sure you have a plan that works for you.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s enjoy some pretty photos of my neighborhood in all her late summer glory.

Until next time,