Protecting Your Finances While Traveling
- August 25, 2023
- August remains a popular travel month despite inflation.
- Taking financial precautions before and during your travels will provide peace of mind and security.
- Notifying your financial institutions, purchasing travel insurance, and safeguarding documents are a few ways to protect yourself.
August is a popular travel month for Americans, despite inflation rates that can make FUN feel almost prohibitive. Last August, outbound departures from the United States by U.S. Citizens saw a 53% increase compared to August 2021.
Traveling offers us all the opportunity to unplug from daily routines. So, unplug! But not before you take care of a few action items that can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable travel experience.
Notify Your Financial Institution and Credit Card Providers
No one likes the buzzkill of being in a foreign country, handing over your card for a purchase, and being informed that the transaction was declined. Thankfully, avoiding this scenario is easy. Simply inform your financial institution and credit card providers about your travel plans before your departure. Advance notice will prevent them from flagging your transactions as suspicious activity. While you’re at it, ask about any foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal charges so you can plan accordingly and avoid surprise expenses.
Create a Realistic Budget
Well before you pack your bags and hit the open road (or skies…or seas…), carve out some time to make a realistic budget. Doing some preliminary research on your destination can give you a ballpark estimate of lodging and food, tourist attractions, and transportation costs. Decide on a realistic amount for each category—or at least the maximum amount you’re willing to pay—with the understanding that sometimes the unexpected happens and it can help to have some financial buffer built in.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is likely one of those irksome expenditures you’d rather ignore (since you’re already shelling out in every other category), but don’t overlook it! It’s an investment that provides financial protection in case of unforeseen events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, lost baggage, or flight delays. The peace of mind and financial safety net of having travel insurance far outweighs the cost inconvenience. Look for a policy that suits your travel needs and provides adequate coverage based on your destination and desired activities.
Safeguard Important Documents
Most of us have heard horror stories about—or experienced firsthand—the loss or theft of vital travel documents abroad. Prior to departure, make copies of essential documents such as your passport, visa, driver’s license, travel insurance, and credit cards. Store these copies in a secure location, separate from the originals. It’s also a good idea to have digital copies stored in a secure cloud service. In the unfortunate instance that your documents are lost or stolen, having backup copies will expedite the process of replacement and minimize potential disruptions to your trip.
Use Trip-Friendly Financial Tools
While it’s tempting to connect to public Wi-Fi networks to save on data usage, it’s wise to be wary when it comes to putting sensitive information on these networks. Public Wi-Fi can be susceptible to hackers and data breaches. Avoid logging into financial accounts or conducting sensitive transactions while connected to public Wi-Fi. Instead, use a secure mobile data connection or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security. It’s also a good idea to educate yourself on how to avoid cyber scams, as they have become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated in recent years.
Be Cautious with Public Wi-Fi and ATMs
While it’s tempting to connect to public Wi-Fi networks to save on data usage, it’s wise to be wary when it comes to putting sensitive information on these networks. Public Wi-Fi can be susceptible to hackers and data breaches. Avoid logging into financial accounts or conducting sensitive transactions while connected to public Wi-Fi. Instead, use a secure mobile data connection or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security. It’s also a good idea to educate yourself on how to avoid cyber scamshow to avoid cyber scams, as they have become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated in recent years.
If you need a second pair of eyes or ears before your trip, don’t be a stranger! You can connect with our friendly and empathetic GreenPath counselors to help assess and customize your budget to accommodate upcoming travel plans. We like to think of it as insurance for your financial peace of mind.
Tara Spicer (She/Her)
Tara Spicer is a writer for GreenPath Financial Wellness, covering everything from budgeting best practices to financial literacy for families. A former book editor and University of Michigan alum, she divides her time between the page and parenting in Seattle, Washington.
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