How To: Safe and Budget-Savvy Travel

Cruising the Mediterranean or flying to family in Farmington, the road to relaxation requires attention to details when it comes to your personal finances and travel documentation.

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More than 240 million people were expected to pass through U.S. airports between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year, according to TSA projections. That’s more than double the population on the entire east coast of the United States.

Sure, TSA has your security on its radar when you fly in and out, but how can you maintain that assurance wherever your vacation takes you?

Cruising the Mediterranean or flying to family in Farmington, the road to relaxation requires attention to details when it comes to your personal finances and travel documentation. There are a lot of moving parts, but there are ways to reduce the chances your vacation will go from aahh to aacch!

Pack Like a Pro

We all know the airline’s charges for checked baggage and we’re aware that on-board liquids can’t exceed 3.4 ounces. But what else should we consider when we’re packing for a passage to parts unknown?

Your phone is your friend, but there’s nothing wrong with doubling down on documentation. Almost three-fourths of air travelers use their smartphones for boarding passes, says the International Air Transportation Association. Still, it’s not a bad idea to print out your ticket and/or boarding pass. It’s physical proof, in the event something goes wrong with your digital access.

Also, both the airport and airline need to accept mobile ticketing in order to gain entry without paper documentation. (Of course, only the smallest, most remote airports insist on paper tickets.) If you want or need paper tickets, airports generally have kiosks where you can print them onsite.

When you travel bring printed copies of other important documents, as well – like your passport – and pack them separately from the originals. That way, in the case of an incident of loss or theft, you’ve got back-ups.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you never leave your hotel room without placing valuables in the room safe, you know it’s worth it, even when there’s a fee.

An article in Conde Nast Traveler talks about hotel theft, describing perpetrators and their tactics with words like “door-pushers” and “loot-and-scoot activity.” Of course, lodging establishments don’t want to be a part of such statistics, so they discourage guests from pursuing justice (which means we don’t know about a lot of incidents).

Every time you leave the room consider which items, if stolen, would put a damper on your vacation and lock them up. They don’t have to be priceless … just valued by you.  

Keep the Change

Like your valuables, you want to hang onto your money. Travel costs enough as it is – you don’t want to work all year just to finance a few weeks of happiness.

If you leave the country, Rick Steves’ Europe tips include where to obtain foreign currency, which can mean the difference between a reasonable rate of exchange and a lighter wallet. For the best results:

  • Don’t convert money in advance. If you declutter like organization guru Marie Kondo, you’re probably a type-A traveler too. But in this case, you can scratch “get foreign currency before trip” off your to-do list. Exchange rates here at home tend to be high. And don’t withdraw money from airport currency exchange booths such as Forex. Steves says you can lose up to 15 percent on those transactions!
  • Don’t leave a foreign country with their coins. Spend them on something useful before you head for home, because they’re pretty much just vacation souvenirs outside of their country of origin. Of course, if you wanted a silhouette of King Philippe of Belgium, bring it home!
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