Financial preparation for summer travels
With long, hot days and children out of school, summer is a popular season for Canadians to enjoy vacation time. If you’re about to head out on your own get-away, make sure you’ve got the financial aspect of your trip planning in order before you hit the road.
Ensure that you can access cash easily while you’re away. Fortunately, that’s pretty straightforward with automated teller machines ( ATMs) networked globally. Take your cards with you and in most cases you’ll never be far from a source of money – but be careful to protect your Personal Identification Number ( PIN) and take care with whatever cash you do withdraw. You might want to split it up by keeping some in a hotel safe and half with you in a travel wallet. If you’re outside Canada, smaller denominations in the local currency of your destination can be handy, for needs such as tips and taxi rides. But remember to use your foreign coins before returning home because most foreign exchange services in Canada won’t accept them. Be sure to obtain a spare bank card and keep it separate from your main card. Also, take with you more than one credit card and have them from different issuers. And always travel with a list of your cards and the phone numbers of the relevant financial institutions in case of loss or theft.
If you’re going overseas, remember to call your credit card issuer in advance to confirm the card will be honoured in the countries you’re visiting. Double check your expiry dates and credit limits and review whatever benefits your card may offer because some cards provide travel and medical insurance at no extra charge. If you’re worried that technology might let you down, take travellers’ cheques as well. However, they may be less convenient than bank cards, and in some countries you may have difficulty cashing them outside of banks, or you may be charged a commission or fee when redeeming them. As for managing your finances while you’re away, that’s probably not a problem if you’re just heading to the beach for a week or two. But if you plan to spend the entire summer biking through Europe, you’ll likely need to think about managing bill payments, deposits, investments and other elements of your financial life. An Internet connection makes this simple. At your hotel or an Internet café, you can probably log on to your financial institution and access your investment accounts. Bills can be paid and accounts and investments reviewed. Just remember to be cautious because the computer may not have the same level of security as you have at home.
Also remember that telephone banking lets you do many of the same tasks. All you require is a touch-tone phone. Or you can set up automatic payments from your bank account to take care of regular bills – such as credit cards, property taxes and utilities. Another option is to post-date bill payments online before you leave home. Of course, no matter how you handle these tasks, you need enough money in your accounts. Since it can be hard to replenish a bank account while away, make sure you have enough of a balance before you travel. And arrange for overdraft protection. If you have regular income, ensure it is deposited automatically in your account. This is critical for long-term travellers. For example, most federal government allowances such as Canada Pension Plan payments can be directly deposited.
Whatever you do, be well organized before you travel, including obtaining an appropriate amount of travel insurance. If you’re properly prepared, you can help ensure your financial life proceeds smoothly while you’re away.