According to the International Trade Administration, 58.5 million Americans traveled overseas in 2011, and travel forecasters expect that number to increase this year as travelers take advantage of special summer offers. While there are many wonderful things to do and see right here in our home state, a lot of Oklahomans will be traveling outside the state or even out of the country this summer.
Your vacation should be relaxing and enjoyable. By following these simple steps ahead of time, you can have a financially responsible and hassle-free trip.
Tips for Safe Travels
Set a Budget
Consider hotel and travel costs, but also allow room in your budget for dining, entertainment, souvenirs, tips and even a little extra for necessities in case of lost luggage or a forgotten item.
Communication is Key
If your credit or debit card is used outside your normal geographic range, it can serve as a red flag. Notify your bank when and where you’ll be traveling to avoid any interruptions in available funds. Ask if your debit or credit card is subject to any restrictions on daily spending or ATM withdrawals while abroad, and find out where nearby ATMs are located so you’ll have access to cash when you need it.
When traveling abroad, be aware of the currency conversion rates, which can be found online or by asking your local banker. Some foreign retailers may not have the technology to accept magnetic stripe cards, so it’s best to bring a PIN-enabled debit card that works at merchants who don’t yet have newer, contactless payment terminals.
Before accessing an ATM – in the U.S. or abroad – make sure to check for any signs that it has been tampered with, such as crooked components, missing screws or extra plastic around the card slot, or film over the PIN pad. Make sure to cover the PIN pad when entering your access code. Use well-lit ATMs in high-traffic areas to minimize your risk.
Many travelers take advantage of public computers or free public Wi-Fi connections when abroad, but when accessing financial information or websites, you should make sure the Internet connection is password-protected.
Expect the unexpected
Make a record of your card numbers and telephone numbers in case you need to report a lost or stolen card while on the road. We suggest making two sets of copies of the contents of your wallet. Leave one set at home and place the second set of copies in your hotel safe.
Suzanne Symcox is executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank, N.A., a locally owned full-service community bank established in 1920. As a family-owned, nationally chartered financial institution, the bank has 28 offices serving Oklahoma and Arizona markets with total assets of more than $1.3 billion.