Ahhh vacation. A time to relax, unwind, and take it easy. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of financial disaster if you're not careful. Guest writer, Daniel Abrahams, has 10 tips that can put your vacation money worries behind you and get on with having a fabulous trip
How do you carry your money when you're on vacation? Currency in a travel wallet? On a prepaid card? Or do you use your debit and credit cards as you need them? Your choices need to ensure you have enough money to partake in fun vacation activities, as well as enough to safety and security.
Many people are not as focused while on vacation as they are in regular life. While it’s great to unwind and feel relaxed, this can actually put us in a more vulnerable frame of mind. Forgetting to lock the hotel safe, using quick and easy currency exchange methods, or making yourself an obvious target for thieves are all problems holidaymakers face each year.
By following these handy tips, you can put your vacation money worries behind you and get on with having a fabulous trip:
Tip #1: Invest in Travel Insurance
Even if you are only going to be away for a short vacation, travel insurance is a must. From the moment you set off to the moment you return back home, you will have peace of mind that your money, medical matters, and personal belongings are all covered. Invest in the best travel insurance you can afford and ensure you take your insurance policy documents with you.
Tip #2: Invest in a Quality Travel Wallet or Bag
Thieves are always on the lookout for quick and stealthy ways to get at your money. At times, thieves are armed with nothing but a sharp pocket knife; thieves can make light work of slashing pockets, bags, and suitcases to get what they want. Don’t display your money or belongings if you can help it. Keep cash and electronics concealed and carry cameras or video equipment in an unbranded bag that does not make the contents obvious.
Tip #3: Lighten the Load on Your Wallet
With so many credit card deals available today, it can be tempting to apply for several cards and carry them around with you during a trip. When you go on vacation however, this can put you at unnecessary risk. Only carry the cards that you will be using and leave the rest safely back at home. Also, remove any cards that display your personal details such as your driver's licence information, your Social Security details, or your address.
Tip #4: Watch out for Fake ATMs
It seems hard to believe, but there are many fake cash machines in high-traffic tourist locations. Thieves will either put these in place themselves or they can also tamper with legitimate ATMs. Always be sure that a cash machine is legit before you insert your card. If anything looks strange or out of place, move on to the next machine, ideally in a bank. You can also check out your credit card web ite for details of genuine ATMs around the world.
Tip #5: Inform Your Bank and Credit Card Company About Your Travel Plans
Many banks and credit card companies will put a block on your card if it is suddenly used abroad. This is done as a security measure to protect themselves and their customers against fraud or unauthorised purchases. A quick call to your bank will ensure your records are updated and that you can continue to use your card effortlessly for the duration of your vacation.
Tip #6: Make Use of the Hotel Safe
Your hotel room may look safe and secure and a thief is unlikely to come up to the 23rd floor, right? Don’t be fooled by security or location. Thieves operate on the inside as well as on the outside and if your personal belongings are not secure, they could be stolen.
Even worse - your travel insurance may not cover you if you had a hotel safe but failed to use it. Keep everything you don’t need safely locked inside your travel safe and make the combination a nice and easy sequence that is personal to you.
Tip #7: Use a Trusted and Regulated Currency Exchange Company
Need to exchange currency? Avoid the high charges and low rates present at street currency vendors or hotel currency exchange services. When you research and buy your foreign currency in advance, from a reputable company online, you can make the most of competitive exchange rates and ultimately have more money to spend on your vacation. Expect to save up to 85% buying online versus at the airport bureaus. Top Tip? Always benchmark the real rate against a reputable currency converter.
Tip #8: Don’t Stand out from the Crowd
Thieves don’t take vacations during high season and they are particularly drawn to crowded areas. In these high commotion spots, pickpockets can fade into the crowd before you notice. From sporting events to festivals and water parks, keeping your head and securing your valuables will ensure you don’t make yourself a target.
Tip #9: Budget for Your Vacation and Stick to Your Limit
It can be so easy to overspend on vacation. Excursions, shopping purchases, and dining out can eat into your budget. Work out a daily spending limit, book and pay for excursions before you travel and have a set budget in mind for shopping and souvenirs. After all, you don’t want to be left paying for a vacation long after your tan and memories have faded.
Tip #10: Review Your Purchases When You Get Home
If you have been using your credit or debit cards overseas, take a detailed look at your statements the moment you get home. If there are any entries that you do not recognize, alert your bank immediately.
Daniel Abrahams is a personal finance writer, startup mentor at ABC Startups, and the co-founder of OPP award winning comparison website, MyTravelMoney. Its sister product, CurrencyTransfer, was recently voted Wired Startup of the week.