If you have a fun trip planned for Spring Break, good for you – you deserve it! Traveling, however, can be stressful, even though the reason for your trip is likely to get away from stress! So, in order to keep your vacation as relaxing as possible, follow these simple steps BEFORE you leave!
1) Let your financial institutions know you’ll be traveling.
In order to protect you from fraudulent activity, financial institutions monitor your “normal” spending activity, including the geographic location of your usual purchases. A charge to your credit or debit card that occurs far away from your “normal” location could be flagged and blocked if the financial institution did not receive word that you would be traveling. Of course, you can call your financial institution and get things straightened out, but who wants to be bothered doing this while on vacation? Get it done before you leave!
2) Make a list of important phone numbers.
It's easy to get lost when you are wandering unfamiliar territory. Additionally, tourists are a perfect target for pickpockets and con artists. It’s best to be prepared ahead of time by noting the phone numbers of local cab companies, the hotel or resort where you are staying, your financial institutions and the local police station. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you know the phone number to call for emergency services. Storing these numbers in your cell phone is a good start, but you will want these phone numbers listed somewhere else as well in case your phone is lost or stolen.
3) Double check your account balances, credit limits and card expiration dates before you leave.
The last thing you want to deal with on vacation is money problems. Make sure you have more than enough available funds/credit before you leave so you don’t have to take a break from relaxing in the sun.
4) Enroll in Mobile Banking.
Just because you brought more funds than you really need, doesn’t mean you should spend everything you have. Sure, on vacation you are likely to spend a little bit more than you would at home, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how much you’re spending. Mobile banking allows you to do just this with virtually no hassle. If you have a smartphone, check and see if your financial institution offers a banking app, which would allow you to check the balances and recent transactions of all of your accounts. If you do not have a smartphone, look into other mobile options such as a mobile banking brower or text message notifications.
5) Carry a variety of payment options.
Your checking account may be stocked with funds that you responsibly saved up specifically for this trip, but if for some reason your debit card decides not to work, you’ll want to have a backup plan.
6) Do not pack more than you need.
While it’s smart to have a backup plan, you don’t need to overdo it. It’s a good idea to clean out your wallet before you leave to make sure you have nothing more than you need, and to make sure you know exactly what you have with you in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Your drivers license, medical insurance cards, two credit or debit cards and some cash will probably be sufficient.
You also don’t want to overstuff your suitcase. Give yourself enough time to pack so you aren’t haphazardly throwing in every article of clothing and every piece of jewelry that you own. If you don’t remember what you brought with you, you will be more likely to leave things behind when packing to return home. Additionally, extra suitcases (or an extra heavy suitcase) can result in extra airline fees. Finally, in case your suitcase decides not to get on your flight with you, the less you’ve packed, the better off you are.
7) Make sure at least one person at home has your travel itinerary.
In case of an emergency, it’s important that people know where they can find you and how they can reach you. Sure you’re planning on bringing your cell phone with you, but in case your phone is broken or lost, you left your charger at home, or you are in a no service area, you need to have a backup plan. Not to mention that knowing where you are will give your mother some peace of mind.
8) Use common sense.
Stay with your group, know exactly what you are drinking, be weary of strangers and potential tourist scams, and remember that what happens in Cancun/Miami/Ocean City/etc. does NOT stay there, especially in today’s world of cell phone cameras and YouTube. If something or someone seems a little off, trust your instincts.