July 23, 2014

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Kirk's Travel Tips

This is the first in a series of tips for making traveling more enjoyable, cheaper and safer.

This is my personal blog, not a news story, and no one else's opinion, except my own.

Each year we tend to take a trip, sometimes out of the country. And so, it might be appropriate to take a look at some travel tips on how to make it more enjoyable.

Of course, just as soon as someone provides a tip, someone else will immediately step forward to contradict it or provide an alternative to the suggestion.  So, if anyone has told you differently, I wouldn't be surprised.  But I welcome the feedback and the explanation of why someone might NOT want to take this advice.

First, most of us that travel or work in the business world have a credit card.  If not, you may want to apply for one now, well in advance of your trip.

One of the reasons: Traveler's Checks are no longer as widely accepted as they once were. Merchants who accept them are at risk for any problems, bounced checks, or false signatures. As a result, they prefer VISA, MasterCard or similar credit card, that will accept their local  currency and make the translation when the card bills you.

Second tip:  Call your credit card company, whether it's from a bank or credit union or other financial institution, a week before your trip, and tell them the dates you will be out of the country. This serves three-fold.  First, it prepares them for charges coming from an area where they may not have seen prior to your trip.

Second, if your own bank account has problems at home while you're away, the institution will understand if you are not able to respond nor deal with the issue. Also, other family members may need help, and if the institution understands you're out of the country, they can help more easily.

Also, if there are an extraneous charges or transactions that don't fit your profile, the institution will be less likely to freeze your account.  If they are watching for charges from, say, Hawaii...then a charge from England won't makes sense and will be investigated.  But your account won't be frozen for those two dozen charges from Hawaii during or near the period when you'll be there.

Now, if you need a money advance, be aware there are fees charged for the currency exchange and even those through your credit card, but it's better to OVER ESTIMATE how much you may need to convert when entering another country, and then sell it back at the end of your trip....rather than taking more and more and more in smaller amounts during  your trip. The fees could eat you alive.

While I'm no money expert, these are just a few of the recent tips on credit cards that I've picked up.

We'll look at baggage and what to pack next week.

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