As the economy slowly brightens, more of our members are planning vacations farther away from home. These are apt to be more exciting than the “staycations” of summers past, but a little more complicated, too. To prevent financial frustrations later, it’s best to take extra time planning before you leave.
Whether you’re traveling to Paris, Prince Edward Island or Maine, you may want consider these pre-trip pointers:
Make a travel budget. Sit down with the whole family and set limits together. This helps keep everyone on the same page and can prevent overspending.
Let us know where you plan to go. If you use your VSECU credit or debit card in an unfamiliar location, we’ll know not to put a security freeze on it.
Planning to use your credit card at ATMs? Get a 4-digit PIN. Longer PINs may not be accepted, particularly in Europe. (Remember, ATM withdrawals with a credit card start incurring interest right away – usually at a higher rate than purchases.)
Plan to use a credit card for purchases, not a debit card. Making purchases with a credit card while on vacation can be more convenient than a debit card. You won’t need to update your check register after every purchase and if a crook takes your card a lost, stolen, or hacked debit card could wreak havoc on your checking account and monthly bills before the matter is resolved.
Be prepared with a “Plan B” way to pay. If something happens to your primary payment option, having a second credit card or cash can keep your vacation from coming to a hault.
Pay bills that will come due while you’re gone. Most bills can be scheduled online for payment on the due date. If you don’t use online bill payment, pay the bill early.
Get Your Home Ready for Vacation, Too
It’s important to prepare your home if you’re going to be away for a week or more. Among the items to include on your checklist:
Don’t broadcast your plans. Not everyone on Facebook may truly be your “friend.” And it’s better to say in your answering machine or voicemail message, “We can’t come to the phone right now” instead of “We’re going to be away until August first.”
Buy timers for some of your interior lights and set them to go on and off at appropriate intervals so your house looks occupied. If you don’t have an answering machine to pick up a ringing phone, turn off the ringer.
Make arrangements for your mail and newspapers to be either stopped or collected by a house-sitter or trusted neighbor. Also, consider suspending any online subscriptions to prevent jamming your e-mailbox.
If you’ll be gone for a while, arrange to have the lawn mowed and the trash collected. You might even borrow a car to keep in the driveway.
Disconnect computers from the Internet.
When you’re finally ready to lock up, make sure you haven’t left a house key under the flowerpot, or the garage door opener in an unlocked car in the driveway.
Precautions like these take only a few minutes. But they’ll help make your home a little safer while you’re gone—and your vacation a lot more relaxing.