How Can Seniors Travel with a Medical Alert System?

How Can Seniors Travel with a Medical Alert System?

time icon 4 min read update icon Sept. 17, 2019


Many seniors might want to travel during their golden years. A lot of older adults have not only saved for their retirement but also put away just a little bit extra so that they can hit the open road, visit all 50 states or go on an epic cruise. Luckily, a medical alert system no longer means that a senior is confined to a 600-yard diameter around their home, yard or garage.


A medical alert device or GPS-enabled medical alert system could ease travel preparations and increase safety while out exploring the open roads and high seas!

Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Medical Alert System For Traveling

Many devices and systems rely on technology that is not unlike a cellphone, smartphone or GPS transponder. Cellphones and smartphones are also devices that an older adult would more than likely take with them on a trip, and these can be programmed with a helpful app or linked to a medical call center in the event a senior needs more immediate help. Additionally, cellphones and smartphones automatically update based on the older adult’s newest time zone, which means no missed medication alerts or calls from jealous family members wishing they were out traveling as well. 

More traditional transponders, such as buttons or pendants, now tend to rely more on GPS versus radio signals. This is precisely how smartwatches continue to monitor daily activities like steps taken per day, heart rate and more.

Travel Factors For Medical Alert Devices

Advantages of Traveling with a Medical Alert System:

  • Discreet:  Medical alert devices and systems are not designed just for older adults, but for any individual with a medical condition that could leave them in a bit of trouble at any time. Buttons and pendants are often embedded within jewelry, watches and necklaces, which means that as long as a senior does not forget to re-don the item after going through security, there is no gap in coverage or care.
  • Safety:  Maintaining one’s safety in a foreign land, vessel or simple rest stop means more peace of mind with which to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a new culture.
  • Reminder:  Taking medical alert devices abroad can have unexpected benefits. For instance, a senior may be more likely to update their care circle contacts or reprogram numbers that have changed since their last departure to a new land.

Disadvantages of Traveling with a Medical Alert System:

  • Hassle:  While updating medical alert staff and call centers is a good idea, the act can still be a hassle. Trying to find phone numbers for hotels and emergency first responders around the world could also prove difficult.
  • Coverage:  Like cell phones, medical alert systems are at the mercy of cellular service providers and the strength of the signal generated from carrier towers. This means that taking an RV trip might necessitate avoiding extremely rural areas, which could be a bummer.
  • Costs:  Most medical alert systems that are travel-ready require a 24/7 on-call staff, which means an older adult is not only required to make an initial payment for the device, but also monthly fees to ensure they remain accessible at all times. These fees can range in cost from approximately $25 to nearly $50.
  • Charge times:  Seniors that are truly ready to fly out the door might be frustrated when they find that such powerful devices require no less than three hours to charge. This could be frustrating day after day and cause the senior not to wear the device, or to simply leave it at home.

Medical alert devices are becoming increasingly discreet and do not look, unlike GPS watches. What’s more, many double as an app on most smartphones and use the same cellular provider service and networks to keep older adults, or anyone with a medical concern, in close contact with those who know them best. Many systems come with monthly fees, however, and could be limited in the states and nations which they cover. Still, many devices have a care circle that enables seniors to program the details of family, friends and first responders right into the system, so they can get help in the event of an emergency.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.