Taking time off and traveling is fun, relaxing and sometimes stressful. Planning ahead and getting your finances in order before you travel will allow you to get the most out of your vacation and leave some of your worries at home. Here’s a checklist to guide you through the financial preparations needed before leaving home.
Pay your bills ahead of time. If you use automatic bill-pay, confirm that all the payments will be sent before the due dates.
Make a checklist of financial needs for your trip. Hit the ATM for cash, exchange some money into the needed currency if you are traveling abroad, or purchase traveler’s checks if you plan to use them.
Evaluate time-sensitive purchases. Eat all the food that will spoil before leaving home to avoid wasting it (and coming home to the smell of rotted food).
Leave a key with someone you trust. You never know when you might have a financial emergency, and someone may need to get into your house to retrieve information or paperwork.
Don’t try new financial organization methods. Now is not the time to try to switch to automatic bill-pay in case something goes wrong. Save changes for when you are home and have time to follow-up.
Double-check rates. Confirm your flights, hotels and car rentals. If prices have gone down re-book or ask for a credit… yes, even some airlines will issue a credit if the rates drop.
Arrange for someone to pick up your mail or have it held. Don’t let mail with your personal information sit in your mailbox while you are gone.
Enroll in rewards programs. Look up the frequent flier programs for your airline and rewards programs for your hotels. Enroll before you go to get all your points and miles without hassle.
Consider infrequent bills. Remember to check the due dates for car titles, annual insurance payments, homeowners dues and other bills that you don’t pay regularly.
Research your destination. Tripadvisor has a great resource that people can review restaurants, attractions and more. Use the reviews to find great places at your destination without spending a fortune.
Pay bills for an extra week. Just in case your vacation is extended unexpectedly, you’ll want to have your finances in order.
Have fun. Knowing that you don’t have to worry about your finances while you are gone will allow you to relax and enjoy your vacation.
Once you get home from vacation, check to see that everything went smoothly and all your bills were paid on time. If there were any problems, follow up immediately. Open your mail as soon as possible to check for time-sensitive correspondence. Since you planned ahead, you should be able to pick right up where you left off before vacation.