Or in the air, or on the cruise ship . . . Summer is a great time to travel, but financial problems can derail even the best plans. If you’re going to be traveling this summer, here are some tips to keep your finances safe and secure:
- Don’t “advertise” your trip on social media. Like newspapers piling up on your front porch, “Yay, we’re off to Mexico” posts on Facebook or other social media channels can signal an empty and vulnerable home. Discretion is best. Or a reliable housesitter. Oh, and cancel the newspaper.
- Make sure to let your credit/debit card issuer know you’ll be traveling. Call the number on your card or statement and give the issuer the dates and locations of your trip. To protect you from fraud, financial institutions look for charges from unexpected places. These can be red flags a card has been stolen and may result in blocks on your plastics, leaving you without access to your funds. A quick phone call can avoid this problem.
- In many countries, especially in Europe, retailers only accept “chip and PIN” plastics—cards with embedded chips. Most American cards have the magnetic stripe instead. Never fear! You can still use your “mag stripe” cards to get cash from ATMs, and using a debit card at an ATM is often the most cost-effective way to get cash—no interest charges or cash advance fees and usually the best exchange rate. Just be very careful if you’re carrying a lot of cash.
- Free up some space in your wallet. Don’t carry everything you usually do—just the essentials. And carry nothing with your Social Security number! If you prefer to have just-in-case backups, consider leaving them in your hotel’s safe when you hit the streets. Keep copies of all your numbers and call your financial institution immediately if anything is lost or stolen.
- Just as you do at home, scan the ATMs for anything suspicious. If pieces of the machine feel loose or look out of place, skip it and find another one, preferably inside a hotel or bank.
- Be cautious in crowds. Purse snatchers and pickpockets can clean you out before you know it. Put money in different places and tuck some in special pockets inside your clothes. Keep an eye on your travel buddies and alert them if someone is a little too close for comfort.
You don’t have to let thieves or the fear of thieves ruin your vacation. With some reasonable precautions and a little extra vigilance, you can still have a great time and return with fond and fabulous memories.