You've worked hard all year, and with summer upon us, you're probably starting to think a little less about work—and a little more about getting some rest and relaxation.
But before you pack up and head for your favorite summer vacation spot or visit a new exotic locale, take note of the following planning tips. These might be a little more uncommon than the usual "lock the windows" or "did someone turn off the iron?" variety of pre-vacation tasks. Check these money to-dos off your list now, and you're well on your way to a more carefree vacation—and an even more seamless path to savings upon your return:
- Schedule automatic bill-pay with your bank—and when you get back from vacation, consider keeping this auto-pay arrangement. You'll never forget a payment deadline again.
- Before leaving for your trip, use your smartphone to photograph your passport, credit cards, and prescription drug labels. Having photos on your phone will come to be a lifesaver should you lose these items, and it spares you from carrying paper copies.
- Speaking of credit cards, take only the one or two that offer the best mix of rewards and exchange rates. The latter can add 2 to 3% to your total charges overseas. If you have a card with both the highest rewards and lowest (or no) foreign exchange rate, you hit the jackpot.
- Check travel websites to find out if your vacation locale readily accepts your cards.
- Call your cell phone company to ask if your vacation destination is included in your regular service plan. For example, we were surprised to learn that coverage in Canada wasn't part of our plan when we visited there recently. We also learned that adding the country to our plan for one billing period was much cheaper than paying for service by the day.
- Search online for your vacation currency exchange, as you’ll need cash for incidentals and merchants who don’t accept credit cards. When we recently traveled to Vancouver, we learned the exchange rate was U.S. $1 to Canadian $1.35. Yet, the airport currency exchange shops returned only $1.28. We searched for currency exchanges near our hotel and found one three blocks away returning $1.32.
- Notify your local post office and newspaper to stop mail and newspaper delivery service, respectively. Or do what my wife and I do: Ask neighbors or nearby family to take in the mail and clear renegade newspapers. (Our local weekly is impossible to stop.) In this way, we don't broadcast our absence. This can also be a good option for making sure plants are watered and pets fed.
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