Growing up comes with a lot of responsibilities: getting a job, paying bills, buying or renting a house – the list can seem endless. Yet, being an adult also means you have more freedom to do the things you love, like travel.
Taking your first trip can be fun and exciting, but there are aspects of the planning process that require adult-like responsibilities. If you’re planning your first solo trip, there’s a good chance you’re a Millennial and studies show you’re willing to spend more on travel than other generations ($879 per trip, to be exact ). Planning ahead and learning the financial ins-and-outs of travel early can help maximize your travel adventure.
To help you financially prepare for your first travel journey, here are five “adulting” tips you should not overlook before, during and after your trip:
1. Plan ahead
Before you go out of town, take a minute to organize your finances, including any payments that might be due while you’re away. Set-up account alerts to remind you of when a credit card payment is due or when a deposit is made. Some companies also allow you to receive electronic bills and view electronic copies of your statements online.
Additionally, planning ahead can help you get organized and grow your budget. If you’re looking to grow your savings balance for your trip, there are apps designed to help you achieve your goals. The Wells Fargo Daily ChangeSM App is a great example of how you can turn saving into a habit by alerting you to transfer money from checking to your savings account.
2. Give a heads-up
Be sure to give your bank a heads-up that you’re travelling and what cards you’re planning to use. This way, you can help avoid having your charges viewed as suspicious by your bank, even if you are traveling domestically.
Some banks will soon offer new features that will simplify banking and help customers avoid financial inconveniences. Wells Fargo will introduce a predictive banking feature that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your financial patterns and then provides personalized insights to help you avoid financial pitfalls or inconveniences. For instance, when you make a travel purchase, such as buying a flight, the predictive banking tool will use this information to provide a personalized message. For example, the feature might suggest you set-up a travel plan for your account and provide a link with information on how to do so to help avoid interruptions when using your debit or credit card.
3. Do your research
Learn about the local currency so you have money for taxis, tips, and meals at hand. If you’re planning to use a credit card, be aware that other places may have additional criteria around credit card acceptance. For example in Europe, some merchants may only accept “smart cards” encrypted with a chip or personal identification number (PIN). There may also be fees for ATM withdrawals. Find out your daily ATM and withdrawal limits and daily card purchase limits before you leave to make sure they will fit your needs. Also make sure you look into the currency exchange rate so you know what you’re paying in U.S. dollars. Some credit card providers may also offer no foreign currency conversion fees, like the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, which can help you avoid some added costs for transactions converted to U.S. dollars.
4. Travel with confidence
Having a back-up plan is always a good idea. The same applies when it comes to your finances. If you’re planning to use credit, store a second back-up credit card in a safe and separate place in case you lose your primary card. It’s also wise to store your financial institution’s contact information along with your passport.
If you’re planning a road-trip, don’t forget to also budget for things like gas and food while on the road. Although it may seem a little dated, always carry a map in case your GPS stops working or you lose phone service. Equally important is to make sure you have your driver’s license with you at all times and your vehicle registration and proof of insurance in the vehicle.
5. Make the most out of it
If you regularly use a credit card, check your rewards balance. You may have earned enough rewards to offset vacation costs like airfare and hotel stays. You can also redeem your points for prepaid debit cards to use as your spending money. Prepaid cards can also be a great way to stay on budget — but you do need to make sure they’re accepted where you’re headed.
In addition to rewards programs, many cards offer little known perks that can help make your travel smoother. For example, some credit cards offer 24/7 concierge services that can help you plan your trip. Your card may also offer rental car and travel insurance, no-fee currency conversions, competitive currency conversion rates, and cell phone protection when you pay your bill with an eligible credit card. To learn more, read your credit card’s Guide to Benefits, Card Terms and Conditions, and Card Account Agreement. Also, by responsibly using your rewards credit card for vacation costs, rewards can add up. You can redeem them later – perhaps, for your next vacation.
Preparing for the financial aspects of your vacation may not be the most fun part of your trip planning and can even seem too adult-like. However, financially planning ahead can help make your first solo travel experience much more enjoyable. (Shuyi Wang)