Holiday travel might be the perfect time to leave everything behind and forget your responsibilities, but money shouldn’t be one of them. To help you save more, budget better and protect you from fraud, we’ve compiled ten tips that you should be aware of before and during your travels.
1) Set up a travel savings account
You’ve probably already made your travels plans this holiday season, but this is a good tip for future reference. The key to this one is making sure that your savings account is inaccessible or invisible on your online and mobile banking. This way, you’re not tempted to transfer money from your account or withdraw it for other reasons. Another option? Invest your money in a one-year CD instead. Check out our blog about CD pros and cons for more information on CDs.
2) Conduct a wallet audit
Before leaving for your trip, it’s a good idea to lighten up your wallet. Take out everything you won’t need and leave the other information at home. You should especially make a point to take out anything with your social security number on it. Then, list the remaining contents of your wallet and the 800-numbers for your cards, bank and other institutions. If your wallet is lost or stolen while traveling, you’ll have easy access to those numbers and won’t have to try and remember everything you need to cancel.
3) Tell your bank
Let your bank and credit card companies know when you’re traveling before you leave. This way, when “unusual” activity pops up in another state or overseas, they won’t freeze your accounts. Another good reason to do this is because it will help make the process a lot smoother should your cards be lost or stolen during your vacation.
Bonus: Opt for text or email alerts on your cards so you know if there is any irregular activity. Once you know, it’s easy to let your bank know so they can help you limit the financial damage. At CNB, all you have to do is log into your app, select “Text Banking” from the menu, then click “Add Alert” and put “Transactions” under the Type of Alert section.
4) Automate your bills
The last thing you want is for mundane realities like bills to intrude on your vacation. If your trip happens to coincide with when they’re due, setting up automatic bill pay can save you the hassle of having to remember to pay. Additionally, on the off-chance that you have a bad connection or lose your phone, etc. that’s one less thing you have to worry about.
5) Create and stick to a vacation budget
If you’re generally lax about following a budget, vacation is a time to be a bit more vigilant. A lot of people go into one with a budget in mind, but find themselves overspending. ATM fees, exchange fees, tolls, etc. can all add up. Try an app that automatically tracks your spending and categorizes it so you can see where you biggest expenses are. This way, you can adjust as you go, as well as from trip to trip. If you use CNB online banking, you can use MoneyCentral for free, and it will track all your card transactions (even those from other institutions). Learn more on our MoneyCentral webpage.
6) Bring your own snacks
Whether you’re traveling by boat, plane, train or taking a road trip, you’ll save more, but this is an especially useful tip if you’re flying. Once you get past airport security, food prices can skyrocket, often more than doubling. You’re trapped there, and they know it. Beat your hunger and save money by having a snack ready to go.
7) Follow the “six block rule”
This rule says that you should never eat within six blocks of any major tourist sight. The food is typically much more expensive than in other areas, and can be less than stellar. Instead, just by walking at least six blocks away, you’ll find better food without the hiked up prices that are essentially convenience fees.
8) Location, location, location
If your vacation includes booking a hotel room somewhere, be aware of how location impacts pricing. On one hand, it’s sometimes cheaper to stay away from the more tourist-heavy areas and travel there during the day. On the other hand, if you’re in an area where transportation is expensive, it might pay off to stay in a more central location where you can walk everywhere. It all depends on where you’re going, but make sure to factor in hotel location!
Bonus: If you can, book a room with a refrigerator/microwave or a kitchen area. Shopping at a local grocery store and preparing something simple or having leftovers for at least one of your daily meals can add up to some nice savings if you’re on a tight budget.
9) Spread things out
When traveling, it’s a good idea to keep your cash, cards and identification in separate places, just in case. This might not always be necessary, but if you’re going to a high-volume tourist area where the likelihood of being pick-pocketed is greater, this is a good way to ensure everything won’t be lost in that situation.
10) Be Careful with ATMs
If you need an ATM, be cautious while using them. In tourist areas, thieves can sometimes set up fake ATMs or place skimmers on legitimate ones. To be on the safe side, if you’re in an area you think this might happen, try to limit your ATM use to those in banks, hotels and airports. The fees might be a bit higher, but it’s worth it to protect your accounts.