Summer Vacation Do’s and Don’ts

Sunglasses sitting on a travel map

Isn’t summer the best—sun, a gentle breeze, perhaps an icy treat to cool you down? Best of all, it’s vacation time. Whether you trek in Nepal, visit the Statue of Liberty, or sail on lake Coeur d'Alene, have a good time. Just follow these suggestions so that nothing spoils your fun.

Our members matter, so we’ve put together a Vacation Do’s and Don’ts List.

Do: Make sure you have access to your Debit/Credit accounts while traveling.

Before you leave, let your credit union know that you’ll be away, especially if you are leaving the U.S. This allows them to monitor your account for fraud and to ensure that you have access to your money. Credit unions do this to keep your money safe. You don’t want to enter Canada and find that your debit card will not work.

Don’t: Put yourself at risk by carrying large sums of cash.

Though most travel destinations accept Debit/Credit cards, having cash on hand is convenient. But it could also put you at risk. Thieves target travelers with big wallets or who look like they are carrying a lot of cash. If you withdraw cash before your trip, secure it properly. Keep it close to your body, use small bills if possible, and divvy the bills into different pockets. If traveling with family or friends, split the cash between you for carrying.

Do: Get recommendations on social media.

Social media makes it easy to crowdsource travel recommendations. If you aren’t sure about where to travel, who to book with, or what you’ll do when you arrive, try asking friends on social media. They are most likely to give you unbiased opinions that could really improve the quality of your trip. Also, look up reviews for hotels, timeshares, rental properties, and restaurants, to see what others have experienced.

Follow TwinStar on our social channels: @TwinStarCU

Don’t: Post on Social Media exactly when you are going on vacation.

As trustworthy as our friends on social media are, it’s best to avoid posting on social media when you will be away from your home. This information, when shared, could find its way into the hands of someone looking to do a little “shopping” at your place. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 23% of households were away from their homes engaging in leisure activities when the burglaries took place.* This includes vacations, so be careful about the information you share online.

Do: Plan ahead, and book in advance.

Give yourself extra time to book your trip, and you’ll save time and money. Booking late limits your options and can be stressful. Before you leave, call your hotel to verify your reservation. Be sure to write down your hotel’s address and contact information in case of an emergency. Part of planning ahead is having a travel fund. Most credit unions provide a sub-savings, or planned savings account where you can set aside money for a vacation.

Do: Be sure that the room, cabin, or vacation rental you are booking is legit.

Unfortunately, vacation rental scams come in many forms. If the rent seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check out reviews.

Don’t: Pay for vacation rentals with cash or cash-transfer services.

Use a credit card, which could allow you to recover money you may lose to fraud. Legit sites will hold your security funds in escrow, making sure you’ve put the funds in place before you get keys.

Don’t: Overcomplicate your packing.

We’ve all been there—the night before a trip we’re frantically digging through clothes trying to decide what to pack. Should you bring one pair of shorts or two? Which necklace should you wear with this dress? Will you really need that winter jacket in the Bahamas? Make it easy on yourself—pack at least two or three days ahead of time. Bring clothes that go with each other and can be worn in different ways depending on the situation. Consider the weight of each piece you bring, as clothing adds up quickly. Airline checked baggage fees range from free to $100 depending on the number and weight of bags. Find your airline’s baggage policy and pack accordingly. Above all, keep it simple and don’t overthink it.

Do: Use technology to your advantage.

Most of us carry smartphones. You can take advantage of them as travel tools. Ride share applications help you get places without renting cars. Map applications will be your best friend in unfamiliar areas. Location review apps can help you decide the best place to eat. Many hotels and venues have their own apps for checking in and storing event tickets. Your credit union is ready to help you monitor your finances using the TwinStar Mobile Banking App. However, watch your data usage when using these apps. Many need a data connection when not connected to wifi.

Don’t: Be an easy victim for high-tech fraud.

Skimming (a thief uses a device to scan your card and steal your information) and other thefts of card information are common. To help prevent your information from being stolen, watch where you shop (gas stations and restaurants can be active locations for skimming), and don’t give your card to anyone who is not a reputable vendor. When not using them, store your credit/debit cards in an inside pocket or lock them in a hotel-room safe. Many hotels have storage safes separate from the one in the guest rooms, so ask about these at the front desk.

Author: Austin Lang, TwinStar Marketing Specialist