Travel Prep – What’s Not in your Guide Book

When planning for your next vacation, it’s easy to focus on what to pack, what restaurants to look up, and what attractions are at the top of your list. It’s not as exciting as planning what to do or where to go, but remember to get your house ready, protect your wallet, and follow some social media practices.  Here are some tips for travel prep to make your vacation worry-free while you’re away from home:

Your House
It’s easy to spot a house when no one is home – no lights at night, mail and newspapers sitting out, even grass that hasn’t been cut can be a clear sign you are out of town. Some easy steps to reduce any worry while you’re away:

  • Either have a neighbor pick up your mail for you, or have it held at the post office. It’s an easy thing to schedule at usps.com
  • Set light timers in a few different rooms during early mornings and in the evenings especially if you are in an area that gets dark early
  • Ask a neighbor to put out and take in your trash cans if you’ll be gone during trash day
  • If it’s summer time, make sure your lawn won’t be overgrown while you’re gone. Either have a lawn service take care of it, or it’s a great job for a neighborhood teenager to earn a little extra cash. The same goes for winter months if there’s snow. Ask a friend or neighbor to shovel or at least put tire tracks on your driveway.

Your Wallet
Because of all the recent credit card breaches, banks and other financial companies are extra diligent when it comes to protecting their customers’ accounts. If a charge pops up in another state or country, it can be a red flag that your account has been compromised and the bank may freeze your account or credit card. This is not what you want to deal with while on vacation, but it can be avoided:

  • Contact your financial institution and let them know you will be traveling. By giving them the dates and location(s) you plan to visit, it will help them track charges and not mark your transactions as possible fraud
  • You can set up a second checking account just for travel, with a separate debit card from your main account. If your card is lost or stolen while on your trip, you won’t have to deal with protecting your main account and resetting any automatic deductions or payments you already have set up.
  • Aside from a separate checking account and debit card, you can use a different credit card strictly for your travel expenses. This not only lets you keep track of any business expense if you don’t have a corporate card, but it’s another way to protect your regular card while you’re on the road.

Social Media
I see it all the time when friends are posting on Facebook – excited about their upcoming vacation plans, how many days until they hit the beach, and even posting their flight while at the airport. It may seem harmless (and yes, we are all jealous you are on vacation) but even with the best security setting you are still alerting all your friends that you are out of town. Better to be safe:

  • Wait to post about your vacation until you return. This includes those classic feet-by-the-pool pictures. We will still be envious of your trip even if we see the pictures after you return
  • If your spouse is traveling, as much as you may miss them, it’s best to keep that off social media as well. Basically announcing that there are less people at your house, or you are alone a night is probably not the message you want to be sending.
  • Even if you do post something while you’re away, make sure you have turned off you location setting. Your post may not be about your vacation, but your followers can see where you are posting from and will know you are gone.

Your trip can be a lot more relaxing if you do a little extra travel prep ahead of time to make sure you’re being smart and protecting yourself from anything happening while you’re away. Changes are nothing would happen anyways, but it’s better to start your vacation knowing you’ve take the few extra steps to be prepared.