You’ve worked hard to save up the money and PTO, and now it’s time to take that dream vacation. Nothing is going to prevent you from enjoying it — or so you think.
Unfortunately, few things will derail a vacation faster than money problems. Here are five areas where many travelers make big financial mistakes.
1. Your bank
Oops — the bank doesn’t know that you’re going out of town. So when a strange foreign transaction pops up, it shuts down access to your account, leading to unnecessary stress for you. (This is another reason why it’s a good idea to always carry some cash.)
Nicole Lorch, senior vice president of retail banking at First Internet Bank, told CheatSheet that banks’ sophisticated card monitoring systems make it easier than ever to block accounts where fraud is suspected. While that’s good for your wallet, it’s not so great when you’re trying to purchase dinner or a souvenir on your trip.
How to avoid it: Tell your bank or credit card issuer you’ll be traveling. Typically, you can do this online through your account settings.
2. Your phone
If a thief steals your phone in an unfamiliar city, 1) you’ll probably never see it again, and 2) he could easily access your bank account and other personal information.
How to avoid it: Secure your phone. Make sure it has fingerprint login or a home screen password. That way, even if the wrong person gets his hands on your phone, he’ll have a harder time robbing you blind.
3. Your budget
According to a 2015 Experian survey, 68 percent of U.S. travelers admit to spending more than they planned while on vacation. Most of the time, they relied on credit cards, which are great for earning hotel points and airline miles, but their “spend now, pay later” method can lead to you facing a nasty surprise when you get the bill.
How to avoid it: It’s easier said than done, but do your best to stick to your budget. (And did we mention carrying cash? Paying with paper allows you to see exactly how much money you’re parting with, and that’ll make you more inclined to spend less.)
4. Your wallet
If you’re like us, your wallet is stuffed with all types of cards — credit, debit, gift, loyalty — not to mention your driver’s license and other important personal documents. Needless to say, losing your wallet or having it stolen would be devastating, especially if you’re on vacation.
How to avoid it: Clean out your wallet before you head out of town. Only take the credit cards you plan to use on your trip.
“The fewer cards that you have in your wallet, the less likelihood that all of your information would be compromised if it were to be stolen during your trip,” Lorch said.
5. Your connection
Downloading apps or logging into accounts from an insecure internet connection could give hackers access to sensitive information.
How to avoid it: Only use secure connections while on your smartphone or computer — all the time, not just in a new place.