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Tools and tips for managing your finances

Protect Your Finances While Traveling

Nearly half of Americans (45%) expect to shell out for flights and hotels this summer. 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.

Traveling offers us all the opportunity to unplug from daily routines. If you’re making plans, it’s important to protect your finances to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable travel experience. Here are our suggestions.

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. Before departure, make copies of essential documents like 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

Travel-friendly financial tools offer a convenient way to manage your money efficiently while you’re away. With prepaid travel cards—sometimes referred to as currency cards—you can preload cash to your card in different currencies, such as euros, locking in the current exchange rate. Prepaid travel cards can be used for everyday spending or ATM withdrawals with low fees or sometimes no fees. Mobile payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, or digital wallets can also be useful for making secure and contactless payments internationally.

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 identity theft as scammer tactics have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years.

Need a second pair of eyes or ears before your trip? We can help. Connect with our friendly and empathetic GreenPath counselors to customize your budget to accommodate upcoming travel plans. We like to think of it as insurance for your financial peace of mind.

First published by Tara Spicer and our trusted financial wellness partners at Greenpath.com

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