Nine travel tips for planning your first solo trip
If you’re getting ready for your very first solo vacation, here are some financial tips to help you make the most of your trip.
If you’re a young, first-time traveler looking ahead to your first solo trip, there’s a good chance you may splurge a little more than your parents used to on family vacations. After all, this is your time now and you want it to be an unforgettable experience.
Planning ahead, however, and learning the financial ins-and-outs of travel early in the process can help you get the most out of your trip.
Here are some tips to help you financially prepare for your travel adventures.
Organize your finances
- Build up your travel budget. If you’re looking for a way to grow your savings balance for your trip, there are apps designed to help you achieve these goals. Wells Fargo’s Daily ChangeSM App, for example, is a tool that helps you save by sending alerts reminding you to transfer money from your checking to your savings account.
- Stay on top of your bills. Think ahead about any bills that may be due while you’re away. Set up account alerts to remind you when a payment is due. Some lenders and card providers also allow you to receive electronic bills and view electronic copies of your statements online.
- Research the local currency. Consider exchanging some dollars for the local currency before you leave, so you’ll have money readily available for taxis, tips, and meals. Investigate the currency exchange rate before you travel so that you know how much you’re paying for something in U.S. dollars — and so you can budget accordingly.
Make plans for using cards
- Contact your bank. Some providers offer features that help customers avoid financial inconveniences. Let them know when you’ll be traveling and the card you’re planning to use. This can help prevent your bank from viewing unusual charges as suspicious activity.
- Make sure your card will be accepted abroad. Other countries may have additional criteria for card acceptance. For example, in Europe, some merchants accept only “smart cards,” which are encrypted with a chip or a personal identification number (PIN). Find out your daily ATM and withdrawal limits and daily card purchase limits before you leave to make sure they will fit your needs.
- Find out about foreign transaction or exchange fees. Some card issuers do not charge these fees, which can help you avoid added costs for transactions converted to U.S. dollars. There may also be fees for ATM withdrawals.
- Have a backup plan. Store a second, backup card in a secure place in case you lose your primary card. It’s also wise to store your bank’s contact information in a safe place.
Use your rewards
- Check for credit card perks that can make your travel experience smoother. Some cards offer 24/7 concierge services that can help you plan your trip. Your card may also offer rental car and travel insurance, and cell phone protection when you pay your bill with an eligible credit card. To learn more about these benefits, read your credit card’s guide to benefits.
- Check your rewards balance. You may have earned credit card rewards that can be redeemed for airfare or hotel stays to help cover some vacation costs. You may also be able to redeem your rewards for prepaid debit cards to use as spending money. Prepaid cards can help you stick to your budget, but make sure they’re accepted where you’re headed.
Financially preparing for your vacation might not be the most fun part of your trip, but a little “adulting” can go a long way toward making your first solo travel experience much more enjoyable.