Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

4 Financial Safety Tips When Traveling

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Scott Turner is an avid traveler and writer who shares tips about money management, frugal living, and life hacks. 

When you’re traveling, it’s easy to let your guard down regarding financial safety – you’re out and about, sightseeing, and enjoying your family – it’s understandable that such concerns would slip your mind. Unfortunately, travelers are frequently targeted for financial scams and thefts. Here are four safety tips to keep you and your money safe while traveling.

Traveling Basics1. Limit the Cash You Travel with
There’s no need to bring a ton of cash with you while traveling. Use travelers checks or your debit card instead. If you know you’ll need cash from time to time, locate the nearest ATM affiliated with your bank to avoid hefty fees when making withdrawals. This way you’re only carrying the cash you need, instead of cash for your whole trip.

2. Protect Your Identity
Be aware of your surroundings whenever entering your debit card PIN while on vacation. At the very least, stick your other hand over the machine so no one can watch you enter your information in. Sign up for alerts from your bank to receive text messages or emails whenever a transaction occurs above a preset limit.

Before you leave for your trip, remove any personal documents from your wallet or purse that contain financial information, such as insurance cards with your social security number on them. If you think you’ll need these cards, take photo copies and cross out your personal information, then carry the photo copies rather than the official documents. These tips are essential to protect yourself and prevent identity theft.

3. Alert Credit Card Providers
Contact your credit card companies before you travel. Many have heightened security protocols in place for unusual purchases, and if your card gets flagged because of an overseas or out-of-town expense, you might end up with a temporary hold on your account. Spending a day trying to get your credit freed up again could take some of the fun out of your trip.

4. Carry a Money Clip
Store the cash you carry in your front pocket inside a money clip or mini wallet. This makes it more difficult for thieves to gain access to your goods. You can pick up a cheap money clip on eBay or Amazon.

When you return home, log in to your credit card and bank accounts to make sure there were no unauthorized purchases. Keep your receipts from your vacation for reference and carefully check restaurant bills. If you notice inaccuracies, contact the business or your account provider immediately. Taking steps to avoid theft is important, but it’s equally important to address any potential account compromises as soon as they arise.

How do you protect yourself financially while traveling?

 
 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Travel Smart Blog!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

We want to wish you all the very best holiday this season!

Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train – be prepared for busy travel hubs and possible delays. Certain areas of the country may be experiencing some severe weather over the next week, so please remember to travel safely!

In order to help you celebrate this fantastic Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, Hotels.com is offering an amazing promotion…

Stay tuned to find out just how far $1.00 can really go...


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Are You Ready? Holiday Travel Do’s and Don’ts

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Halloween may be over but there’s another scary scene upon us, the holiday travel season! Shriek! Yes, traveling over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years to visit with family and friends is often a blessing and a curse. Staying on par with the resurgence of travel confidence demonstrated this year; the 2013 holiday travel season is forecasted to be the busiest and most expensive in five years. So, here are a few things you need to know if you are planning to travel for the holidays.

0_219004The Flying Frenzy: The Truth About Airlines at the Holidays

The best time to buy lower fare tickets has long since passed (for holiday travel specifically). In fact, the leading airfare booking sites are already reporting that prices are up significantly over last year’s holiday fares, as much as 17% into popular destinations such as New York City, San Francisco and Orlando. And, airports are expecting record traffic this Thanksgiving.

So, here are my big holiday flying tips:

  1. If you see a flight that you want, don’t wait for a deal, book it! Last minute deals between now and New Years will be just like your Halloween candy…gone. And soon all the seats will be, too.
  2. Travel on actual holiday days is always more affordable than the one or two days before. The most expensive days to fly: the Sundays before Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
  3. Watch your connections! Weather this time of year can wreak havoc for travelers trying to get to grandmother’s house for some pumpkin pie. The best time to avoid weather delays and missed connections is traveling in the morning before flights get backed up or cancelled. Give yourself enough time between connections to avoid missing your flights, especially if you are flying in and out of airports in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York.

Is Your Family Sitting Together?

Airlines are increasingly charging extra to pick a seat when travelers buy their tickets. But you don’t have to pay extra for that. Just make sure you check in online as soon as you can to try to secure seats together. Airlines do and will separate families, even with small children. During this busy time when planes are full, switching seats will be a challenge. Check now so you know what effort you may need to make. You can even try to call the airline to see if there is any “seat shifting” that they may be able to help you with once you’ve booked your ticket. Otherwise, arrive to the gate early and make your request to the Gate Agent, and don’t be afraid to ask another passenger to trade with you so that you can sit with your children. When I have been in this situation, I have purchased a drink for the passenger who was willing to switch with my family member. Just let the flight attendant know and they can tell the helpful traveler of your thankful gesture.

Reserve Your Parking Spot NOW

Reserve your airport parking spot ahead of time. You can count on airport parking lots to be full this year, too. You’d hate to miss your flight because you couldn’t find a place to park. Many companies such as Parking Spot, Wally Park and Park Ride Fly USA take reservations and even offer premium valet services in cities across the US.

Family Driving to Hockey PracticeFor the Holiday Road Warriors

Next week, AAA should give its forecast for the actual number of travelers taking to the road for Thanksgiving. What we already know is that 90% of travelers will drive to their destination over Thanksgiving with the busiest travel day being the day-before Thanksgiving. Want to avoid long lines at the pump or on the roads? Plan ahead. Fill up the tank a day or two ahead, if possible. If you can make it to Aunt Irma’s house in four hours on most days, plan for six or seven. Tack on some extra time so you aren’t late for the festivities. And know alternate routes along the way in case you run into accidents or heavy back-ups. You can save time and your sanity with a little preparation.

Save Big with Off-Airport Car Rentals

Do you have to rent a car from an airport location? No! If you rent a car from an off-airport location you will save significantly over the holidays; as much as 50% savings even on premium rentals. Some off-airport locations offer shuttle service from the airport. I recently did some checking for car rentals in Denver over Christmas and New Years and was able to save family members over $1,000 simply by finding an off-airport car rental location.

Do You Really Need to Take That?

Whether you are traveling for two days or ten, scrutinize the items going into your suitcase. Those traveling for a quick trip may be able to get away with a carry-on only. Even if you check a suitcase, be sure to pack your essentials in a small carry-on, in case of delays (or dare I say it) or your bag gets lost. A change of clothes, power cords, medicines, important numbers, should all be in your carry-on bag.

Most airlines now charge for checked baggage and some even charge for carry-ons. Southwest and JetBlue are the last two major carriers that still offer free checked bags and carry-ons. Southwest even allows a second checked bag free of charge. United, American and Delta all offer free carry-on, so try to keep clothes to a minimum.

Hotels at the Holidays

Hotels in major holiday cities are equally busy and pricey this time year. But, you can save big if you don’t mind staying just outside these cities. For example, you can save big on a trip to NYC if you are willing to stay just 15 minutes away from Manhattan in Brooklyn. Also, keep checking the Hotels.com Deals page for last minute hotel deals in cities across the US. Thanksgiving Hotel Deals are currently featured on the site.

Happy Holidays! And remember: preparation is key! Check-in for your flight online, allow lots of time to get to the airport, to go through security and to board the plane. Pack your snacks, a few good manners AND YOUR PATIENCE. Lines will be long, traffic will be heavy, but this is what holiday folklore is all about!

Safe travels!

 

 

 
 

 

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Travel Sticky Situation: Tips for Traveling with your Boss

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Businesswoman talking on cell phoneIt’s bound to happen. If you advance far enough in your career, you will likely take a business trip or two that includes your boss or even your boss’s boss. So what’s the protocol for traveling with your superiors? Here are a few tips to keep things smooth sailing when on the road with “el Jefe”.

Take Care of Yourself. If you are a woman traveling amongst men, don’t assume that the social courtesies made toward a woman on a date apply in business. Be prepared to hail your own taxi, pay the bills and the tips, carry your own luggage and open your own doors. Chivalry is not dead but it should not be expected on a business trip. And regardless of whether you are a man or woman, take responsibility for your travel arrangements, ground transportation, and meals to confidently get you through your trip. Unless your boss suggests meeting for breakfast, order room service or go down to the hotel restaurant and eat your cereal solo. (It’s a good idea to carry a few breakfast bars.)

Assume Nothing. If there’s any question over who is responsible for what on the logistics planning or agenda during the trip, don’t assume the answer, ask and be sure of your responsibilities. Some bosses expect their junior executives to take care of everything from arranging transportation, setting up meetings, and securing reservations for dinner. Other bosses prefer to take the lead and expect you to keep up.

Carry Cash. Stop by the ATM machine before you leave and make sure to carry cash (small bills) for easy tipping. Traveling internationally? Check the exchange rate before you leave. It may be best to grab the local currency from an ATM in your destination. Be sure that you do before you try to get in a taxi or take the train. Many taxis outside of New York City and Chicago are not credit card friendly. Don’t forget to get receipts! If you want to be reimbursed for those tips and cash-related business expenses then save those receipts for the end-of-trip expense report.

UPIMRF-00019855-001Pack Like a Pro. You don’t want to be the one responsible when presentation materials or a cable turns up missing. In fact, impress them all and make sure you have an extra phone charger, socket adapter (for international usage), and connectivity cables just in case someone needs one. Personally, make sure you have a belt, panty hose (ladies), socks, band-aids, and an extra shirt.

Work on the Plane.  I look forward to a few hours of focused work time on the airplane. When you are in route to a meeting, it’s not the time to watch the latest flick being offered on the plane.

If your boss opens her laptop on transport, follow suit. Perhaps you can relax on the return after a job well done.

Do Your Destination Homework. If you are traveling to a new destination, don’t expect others to get you from A to B or choose the restaurants for dinner.  With just a little bit of research, you can become a pseudo-expert on the fastest way to get to and from appointments, great restaurants that will impress your bosses, and even off-hours diversions.

 

Do you have any great business travel tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

 
 

 

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20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation – by Norm Schriever

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

522931_3571415679789_1895186066_n copyThe Travel Smart Blog was lucky enough to meet up with Norm Schriever for today’s guest post – 20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation! Norm is an Amazon.com best selling author, pro blogger, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone.

His work regularly appears on the Huffington Post, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, the University of Connecticut, and newspapers, websites, and radio shows all around the world. He sees his words as a way to illuminate the commonalities of human existence, and thereby hopes to leave this planet a little better than how he found it.  This is why he writes.

Everyone loves going on vacation, but with the average cost for a family around $4,580, it’s hard not to stress about the price tag.  However, with some frugal planning there are ways to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on your next trip, leaving you relaxed enough to fully enjoy it.

Here are 20 tips that will help you save big money on your next vacation:

1. Many tours, museums, and even restaurants offer discounts for students, teachers, AAA, military, and AARP members, so bring your identification cards and always ask!

2. Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast. Eating a good meal in the morning will get you ready for a day of sightseeing and save you money on one meal a day.  When you search with Hotels.com, you’ll be able to see which establishments offer complimentary breakfast.

3. The majority of air travelers want to fly on a Friday or Sunday, so you’ll find the best deals for flights if you fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Flights at the crack of dawn, at dinnertime, or red-eye flights are cheapest. Airlines release their new weekly fares on Mondays, so on Tuesday by 3 pm competitors have released their deals, making it the ideal time to search for tickets online. Studies show that the cheapest time to book is 49 days before your departure, or 81 days ahead of time for international flights.

4. Before you book your airline tickets find out if they charge for checked bags. Some airlines allow the first bag for free. Bring an empty carry-on that you can fill with souvenirs so you won’t get hit with an excess baggage fee on the way back.

5. If your vacation destination is within a few states, consider traveling by train. It’s a great way to see the country, less expensive than flying and Amtrak has modern, comfortable sleeper cars.

6. Take a self-guided walking tour. Instead of hiring an expensive tour guide to be ushered around in a stuffy bus, bring your GPS or map, comfortable sneakers, and a guidebook and hit the pavement of your destination city.

7. Souvenirs, nick nacks, and t-shirts are all wildly overpriced in touristy areas, so take a quick photo of what you like and buy it later via the Internet.

8. Don’t double up on insurance for your rental car. Rental agencies love selling you additional insurance, but it’s usually unnecessary. Check your homeowners and auto policy ahead of time to see if they cover rental cars. Some credit cards even offer automatic insurance if you pay with their card.

9. Whenever you show up at the airport, hotel, or rental car agency, ask for a free or low cost upgrade. The worst they can say is “no,” but you might be surprised what they can offer!

10. Book a hotel room with a small refrigerator and stockpile water, fruit, and snacks. This will help you to save on impulse purchases at tourist sites, restaurants, or from the expensive minibar.

11. When vacationing outside of the U.S., always negotiate prices when buying something on the street or in a shop. Often times you can end up at 60% the first quoted price, but we often forget negotiating is an accepted and encouraged part of many cultures.

12. Everything is more expensive by the beach, so remember that the exact same quality meal or hotel can usually be found for 30-50% less a few blocks inland.

13. Exchanging money at the bank will get you the most accurate exchange rate and fewer fees than at your hotel. Never exchange money on the street!

14. If you aren’t going to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, booking a 2 or 3-star hotel will save you a lot of money. Hotels.com makes it easy to see pictures and read reviews so you can get a clean, comfortable room for less than 5-star prices!

227532_1997268727099_654291_n15. If you’re bringing the kids on vacation, consider getting a suite, bigger room with two double beds, or have the hotel bring up a foldout cot so everyone can stay together. The savings will be worth it!

16. When traveling abroad, remember to turn off the cell network on your smart phone, where international roaming charges can add up alarmingly fast. Instead, take advantage of free Wi-Fi offered at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites, using apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and GoogleVoice to make calls, text, and browse the web.

17. Before you book airfare, theme park tickets, or even restaurant meals, check the companies’ Twitter and Facebook pages because they often post otherwise-unlisted discounts on their social media pages.

18. If you have young children bring your own stroller to amusement parks, where it could cost $15 a day to rent one.

19. Only drink water at restaurants, where a few sodas or iced teas can add $10 or more to each meal.

20. Spend one day away from the expensive attractions. You’re paying for that hotel swimming pool… use it! Spend the day at the beach, zoo, or a nearby museum.

 

 
 

 

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