So in part 1 of this post I shared all of the preparation I do for the actual vacation part of my trip. (If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and click here to check it out. It’s cool, I’ll wait.) Now, in part 2, I am going to tell you all of the personal things I do to get myself ready. One day I will get around to making an actual checklist for you all (and myself), but for now we will all have to make do with my ramblings :).
When planning our vacations, we tend to focus on the more fun aspects such as outings, accommodations and packing. But what about the far less fun stuff such as bills and finances? Here is all the ‘adulting’ I do before I leave home to get myself and my family travel-ready.
Purchase travel insurance! This is at the top of my list because it is by far the most important. Seriously, don’t skip insurance. Ever. Do some research and find out which company works best for you, read reviews and ask friends and family who they recommend.
Purchase foreign currency. I always assumed that banks in cities would carry a small array of foreign currency that could be purchased by us loyal customers at any time; I was wrong. Turns out that most financial institutions need you to call and order what you need, sometimes weeks in advance! Although I prefer to use my credit card while on vacation and then pay it off once I arrive home, I always make sure to carry cash for the smaller incidentals. When ordering your money, be sure to specify the denominations you would like or you may end up with large bills that nobody will be able to accept. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the exchange rate to try to get the best deal.
Figure out which credit card you should use. I was shocked to learn how varied rates can be from one card to the next when travelling. Did you know that most credit card companies will charge you a percentage of your purchase on top of the exchange rate when made outside of your country? Not cool. Between my husband and myself we hold 3 different cards so I called around and discovered that one of mine had no fees for out of country purchases, AND they were happy to send me a secondary card for my husbands’s use absolutely free!
Inform your bank and credit cards when and where you plan to travel. Most banks have really improved their safety protocols for their customers, and this includes freezing accounts when a suspicious purchase is made. This can be a real hassle if you are the one making the purchase! My husband’s mother decided to do some american Black Friday shopping a few years ago and was denied the purchase of a tv because her card was flagged. Not being a regular cross-border shopper, her bank thought the purchase was fraudulent and tried to protect her. Luckily her sister was able to make the purchase for her, but it was very inconvenient, not to mention stressful.
Purchase a travel plan for your cell phone. I find these plans crazy expensive, but worth it. I love being able to map a location, read restaurant reviews, check the line waits for the rides at Disneyland, and text with hubby if we split up at the park for a bit :). I reserve all of my social media for when I have wifi back at the hotel or condo (I rarely use social media while travelling) and I also try to do any pre-day research before we head out in the mornings to conserve data.
Take a copy or photo of EVERYTHING in your wallet, front and back. And your husband’s wallet, and everyone’s passports while you’re at it. I like to upload mine to the cloud so I can access them from any location, but if you are uncomfortable with that, leave a copy with a trusted family member or friend that can be reached in a time of crisis.
Make sure all your bills are up to date, and set up scheduled payments for while you are away. Online banking allows me to set up a bill payment on a scheduled date so I won’t fall behind. I also make sure to have a larger than normal buffer in my main account in case I forget something. You could also look into having an overdraft to ensure nothing gets bounced.
Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear any important tips you have to share :).
My next post, the final one in this little series, will focus on getting your home ready for vacation. Stay tuned!