Never Go Over Budget on Vacation
No one is perfect. Even Warren Buffet will admit he's made a few financial blunders from time to time. The problem that leads most families to go over budget is underestimating their financial needs to begin with. In the planning process, don't underestimate the cost of your family's vacation. Always, always overestimate.
The potentially serious consequences of going over budget cannot be overstated. Better to come home with extra funds than to be in a foreign country and unable to pay the departure tax (which can be nearly $100 for a family of four.) This has happened more than you can imagine, resulting in missed flights and other travel hassles.
Finding yourself over budget on vacation is not just inconvenient. It can cost thousands of additional dollars. Sometimes on long vacations room availability may require a stay at more than one hotel. If you have to change hotels, your credit card will be authorized again, with twice the available funds as originally allotted locked up.
A missed flight could cost you hundreds or even more than a thousand dollars in fees and fare differences in order to change all of your family's reservations. Never leave home without enough money to get home.
When planning your trip, if you realize that you'll have just enough saved in your budget to break even, postpone the trip. There's no room for error here. If your trip will wreak havoc on your financial security, do not go. Wait, save enough money to enjoy the trip and have a little left over when you get home.
Budget 911: Emergency Funds
The news is full of stories about people getting hurt or injured on vacation. And although the mainstream media generalizes such stories, becoming ill or injured on vacation is a very real possibility that could occur without warning. Will the hospital take your insurance? Maybe. But do you want to take that chance with your family?
Not every family can afford to set aside funds for emergencies while on vacation, particularly vacationing abroad. Or can they? The fact is that every family who can afford a vacation can afford emergency funds. With enough advance planning and by making small sacrifices for the sake of the trip, a family can set aside enough funds for emergencies.
Before booking your trip, contact your resort or destination's front desk. Ask about available local medical services. Is there a local hospital or at the very least, an urgent care facility? Do not contact reservationists for this information; they are rarely located in the same area as your destination. Get the name and telephone number for the local medical facility. If the front desk can't provide this, ask to speak with the resort manager. Once you have the contact information for the local medical facility, place a call to their billing department. Simply ask about payment policies. Do they accept your insurance and will they file your insurance if you have need of their services while vacationing in the area? Or, will you be required to pay for services and file your own insurance? What forms of payment do they accept? It's worthwhile to make a few phone calls to ensure that you'll be prepared in the event of an emergency away from home.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
Insurance is like gambling. You want to have fun, but you don't want to lose your shirt. It's easy to get taken advantage of when it comes to travel insurance, so it's wise to consider your circumstances. The first step is to determine whether or not you need travel insurance. Visiting Aunt Millie in Pasadena for the weekend probably doesn't warrant travel insurance. Taking your family to see the petrified waterfalls in Mexico is an entirely different story.
Speak with your insurance agent. Find out if you and your family are already covered under your existing policy. If not, find out whether your insurance agency offers travel insurance.
Purchasing travel insurance from a company that already insures you is wise — because you're already a customer, you will be seen as less of a risk and could qualify for lower premiums.
American Express cardholders are often already protected with some level of travel insurance, particularly when airline tickets are purchased with your American Express card. Many credit cards also come with travel insurance options. Ask your credit card's customer service department to go over your benefits with you. Ask if travel insurance is available via your credit card and then weigh all your options.
If you discover that you will not be insured for travel by your credit cards or existing insurance agency, ask your insurance agency to recommend a reputable travel insurance partner. When all else fails, go online and compare prices. Companies like Travel Guard (