The best piece of travel advice I’ve ever heard is to pack half the amount of things that you think you need and twice the amount of money. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or something in between, there’s no shortage of packing advice on the internet. But what about finances? Whether we are going away for a handful of days or weeks at a time, here’s my money checklist for traveling.
Schedule or Automate Fixed Expenses
Just like I was the last millennial in the universe to continue to balance a checkbook and to stop using fabric softener, I am also the last millennial in the world to automate all of my fixed expenses. A handful is, especially if the balance is the same from month to month, but most aren’t. It’s like a mini come-to-Jesus moment every time I click the email notification from the water company. That’s why it’s so important to always check statement dates and due dates and to get everything scheduled before taking a break. There’s nothing quite like waking up at two AM when you’re out of town wondering if you paid your bills. The added bonus is that there isn’t any digital paperwork waiting for you when you return.
Check-in with Credit Cards
If I must confess, I don’t do the best job keeping tabs on my credit cards. The ones I use, yes. The ones I collect, not so much. Before you get your financial undies all bunched up, I’m working on it. But what I do know to do is to make sure that balances are paid—or at least known—and to let your credit card company know if you will be making any usual transactions or swiping your card in an exotic locale. And if your locale truly is exotic, you also want to check in on any foreign transaction fees. Because let’s be serious. Paying to use your own money? Pass.
Plan Your Payments
When we travel to all-inclusive resorts, we are pretty big proponents of bringing cash. It is a really simple way to keep yourself and your spending honest, and it bypasses the whole need-an-ATM situation when you are looking for a few dollars to tip the bartender. But if that makes you uncomfortable, figure out what will work best for your situation. Whether it is a debit card or a credit card, you will want to make sure that it is accepted at the specific places you intend to visit. Visa might be everywhere you want to be, but other cards like American Express sometimes aren’t.
If you’re going to be gone for longer stints of time, you can work with everyone from your cable company to your water company to talk about the benefits of suspending your service. While that doesn’t apply to utilities in the case of shorter travels, if you’re an online seller, you might want to consider putting up a hiatus notification. There’s nothing quite like having your plane touch down in Vegas only to receive a notification that one of your Poshmark listings sold.
Remember Other Extras
I admit it. Once in my life, I had to pay a late fine at the library. I suppose I could have gotten one ding in thirty-one years expunged from my record without having to pay, but I knew I was late, and I love my library. Plus, it was a whopping twenty cents. Now that we binge watch most of our TV shows via the library’s DVD collection, late fees add up fast at a dollar a day. So, I always make sure to either renew my items and make a note of the date, or I just take them back if there’s any doubt in my mind. I can wait another month to get caught up on House of Cards. Actually, I can wait forever, since I still can’t get into that show. What? I already said I’m a terrible millennial.
Beach or mountain, hotel or hostel, business or pleasure, the last thing you want to have to stress about while traveling is money. This money checklist for traveling puts my mind at ease and lets me focus on the really important parts of time away. Like food, culture, and whether or not I’m going to come home with any of those teeny tiny shampoo bottles and soaps.
So Tell Me…How do you keep your finances in order when you know you’re headed out of town for a few days or weeks or more?