It’s summer – time for that great family tradition, the vacation road trip! Touring the country (any country) in your own vehicle is a great and cost effective way for families to get acquainted with the famous and not so famous beauty of an area. Two weeks on the road, however, can be an invitation to ruin of your financial security. Here are some tips on remaining financially secure on your road trip.
Avoid loss at home
Don’t waste money while you are gone
Tighten up the homefront before you leave to make sure you are spending less on utilities and taking precautions to avoid fire or water damage.
Leaky faucets, running toilets, ice machines or busted washing machine hoses can really up your water bill if you happen to leave home without attending to them.
You could shut of the main water line into your house. However, if you have a gas water heater, you don’t want to do that unless you also shut the water heater off. If you don’t, you’re at risk for having a fire because the water in the tank is gone and the flame is still burning.
If you don’t want to turn off the main water valve, you could turn off each faucet and toilet and washing machine individually.
If you don’t even want to do that, at least make sure all toilets have been shut off before you leave. We went on a long weekend trip once and left without noticing that the toilet was still running. Our water bill was much higher because of it. Also make sure the automatic ice maker is turned off, all outside hoses are disconnected and no faucets are dripping.
You aren’t there, don’t heat or cool as if you are!
Turn down furnace or turn up the air to save money while gone. Turn down heat in water heater.
Unplug all electrical devices that use electricity when off (TV, computer and etc). You not only save electricity, you prevent electrical surge issues from killing the equipment or starting a fire. Even a can opener with faulty wiring could start a fire while you are gone and if you aren’t there to take care of it, your house could burn down.
Thieves would much rather work in a house they know will be empty than in one to which you might return any moment. Make them think you are still there so they will move on to the next house.
The best prevention is to actually have someone there. If you have a trusted relative or friend or business acquaintance who is willing to stay in your house, or at least go in and out a few times a day, ask them to do so. You can return the favor, pay them or get them a nice gift as a thank you.
If you don’t have anyone trustworthy enough to allow into your empty home, ask ONE of the neighbors that you are close with to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and to pick up any papers or get the mail or put out a trash can on trash day for you. Sometimes trash company employees are markers for empty houses and sell the information to thieves.
If you have an alarm system, use it (or you might need to get a payday loan to recover your losses). You can also check to see if the police or sheriff in your area offers a ‘vacation watch’ program wherein a trooper will drive by to watch your house while you are gone.
Otherwise, and in addition, do the following:
- Vary routines prior to leaving – don’t always open the blinds every day, don’t always park in the driveway and etc.
- Make sure exterior is maintained – cut the grass before you go, hire someone to do it if need be while you are gone and etc.
- Abort or reschedule home services requiring access inside – if you have a house cleaning service, don’t forget to reschedule it.
- Put some of your interior and exterior lights on timers so they go on and off at different times of the day. You could even have a radio or TV to on and off to provide sound as well.
- Set phone ringer to lowest volume so it doesn’t give away that you aren’t there.
- Stop mail and other deliveries.
Before you leave
Remove stuff from wallets, purses and home
You should NEVER carry around your social security card, especially on vacation.
Remove credit and debit cards you won’t need while gone from your wallet or purse and safely store them elsewhere. Clean out other items that contain personal identity information or account numbers.
Put extra home valuables in your bank safety deposit box, including papers you would need if your house is destroyed while you are gone.
Make copies of needed stuff
Your pocket may be picked! Make two copies of your passport, drivers license, health insurance card, vehicle insurance, contact numbers for credit cards, bank and investment accounts and etc. Take a copy with you (and don’t keep it with the originals) and leave a copy in a safe place back home (safe deposit box, encrypted electronic copy and etc). Then, if your wallet is stolen or you have trouble with your account you can still get action.
Take a picture of your packed suitcase in the event you need to file an insurance claim.
Make sure your home inventory is stored securely off site in case you do get robbed while gone.
Make sure you will have access to funds while traveling
Do take cash. Believe it or not, some places do not take credit/debit cards or checks! Don’t carry large bills. Divide it up between people, don’t keep it all in one place. Put some in your wallet/purse, some in a body bag (one of those little bags that go under your clothing), some in the car, and some in the luggage in car. Don’t leave cash in hotel rooms!
Do also use traveler’s checks. Do write down the numbers of the checks and keep them separately.
Do alert credit card companies that you will be making charges in other places so they don’t freeze your account thinking there was theft.
Do verify your card limits so you don’t incur extra fees.
Do take care of financial matters coming due while you are gone – pay bills, make investments, transfer monies and etc ahead of time. You can’t necessarily assume you will have online access to do so while traveling.
On your road trip
Don’t make your self a target
- Do hide and lock valuables/luggage in the car (in the trunk if you have one).
- Don’t look like a tourist – hide maps and travel brochures, put the camera away when not in use, act like you know where you are going. If you are lost, drive to an open business to get directions.
- Don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms.
- Don’t flash your cash, use small bills. Portion out the money you will need for one day and put the rest elsewhere.
- Use copies of documents if you can, especially a passport. Some recommend using a dummy wallet – with expired credit cards and a bit of cash only – putting all other valuables on your person somewhere else.
- Safeguard laptops and smart phones so no one can get at unsecured data on them if they are stolen.
- Stay in second floor rooms in hotels to avoid robbery (robberies are reported more frequently by first floor clients).
Don’t give away your location
Do turn off geo locators on Twitter and your phone; and don’t broadcast that you are on vacation on any social media or other online website. Don’t tell more people than necessary that you will be gone.
Don’t use unsecured electronics
- Don’t use generic ATM’s – to avoid skimming and identity theft. Do use the bank branch ones instead.
- Don’t trust hotel computers or unsecured networks. Don’t key in your personal information or access your accounts from them. There might be keystroke tracking or trojan’s on the pc or network that could lead to unauthorized access to your accounts.
Protect your body and vehicle
Do take a mobile phone – even if you have to get one of those temporary pay as you go numbers. I am philosophically opposed to carrying a cell phone, but I carry one on road trips. There are no longer pay phones that traveler’s can use and often businesses will not let you use their phones for calls.
Know how to reach help with your cell phone. Some plans (Verizon for instance) have a fee based plan that gives you roadside assistance. Some insurance companies (such as State Farm) provide roadside assistance as part of your insurance. Often you will see a sign along interstates with the number to call for highway emergencies. Here is a link to a site which lists them for the contiguous United States. You are still advised to dial 911 where ever you are, for real emergencies (health, accidents and etc). Of course, you can also call directory assistance (411) to find a service such as a tow or gas station.
Do not, I repeat, do not, stop alongside the interstate and change a flat tire. People die doing that. Call for a tow or ruin the rim and drive to the next safe spot.
Do take along a first aid kit, especially if you have kids and most especially if you are tripping to remote areas.
Do take along small tools to fix suddenly broken glasses, phones or electronics.
Do keep a car fire extinguisher handy. Keep a set of tools that will let you perform simple repairs. Do carry an extra can of oil and container of windshield washer fluid.
Make sure your car is in tip top shape, with good tires, inflated well, fresh oil, plenty of wiper fluid, working brakes, lights and etc.
Stay financially and physically secure on this summer’s road trip and oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
This post has been written by Marie from http://www.FamilyMoneyValues.com. Be sure to visit her site if you’ve enjoyed this post!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.