Last-minute vacationers rarely have the opportunity to save much money because they usually don't have time to survey all the options available to them. While you book your flight or schedule your accommodations, don't forget to protect yourself and your money. Companies such as Lifelock.org have your best interest in mind when it comes to protecting you on all levels. Check out these tips to get the most out of your vacation without jeopardizing your fun or your finances.
Search your smartphone apps store for money-saving travel apps, such as GasBuddy, TripAdvisor, Yelp, AAA and TravelZoo. These apps not only direct you to low-price and discounted establishments and services, they also offer things to do in your location and ways to save money while you travel. Some may suggest "off the beaten path" local activities as well, saving you money and avoiding the pricey tourist traps.
Discounts abound during mid-week, late-season and off-season periods, as well. If you are a member of a travel guild such as AAA, take the extra few seconds to survey the sites for deals.
Cash is easily stolen and should you lose your stash, you may become stranded. Therefore, use traveler's checks or credit cards to make purchases. Most domestic and foreign tourist establishments accept either VISA and MasterCard, or both. Save yourself angst by packing one of each in your wallet. If you are traveling abroad, contact your credit card company to determine if they charge a fee on overseas transactions.
Save all receipts and check your purchases to prevent over-charging from unscrupulous proprietors. Never use a bank card or debit card. These cards are usually not insured against theft and over-charging, and any losses you incur are your responsibility. Clark Howard, financial guru and popular radio personality, warns that debit card fraud is on the rise and advises travelers to use security-backed credit cards or create a second, separate debit card account to fund your purchases.
A common plight of the last-minute traveler is ignoring their personal and home security in their plans. Never advertise your travel plans or your absence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Crooks often scan these sites looking for vacant homes to rob.
If you will be away for longer than two days, place a hold on your mail, as a mailbox stuffed with letters is a sure sign of an absent homeowner. Assign a neighbor to mow your lawn, haul your trash to the curb and back, and install a timer that will automatically and periodically turn on your lights. These strategies give the illusion that someone is in the building, and a burglar is less likely to target a home that he knows is currently occupied.
Don't forget your online security, either. The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is a growing problem worldwide. Travelers are especially vulnerable because they are constantly submitting their financial information to a larger ring of unknown people and establishments.
"Dumpster diving" and "skimming" are two of the most common and effective methods of identity theft. Dumpster diving is just as it sounds: crooks sift through the trash of tourist sites, restaurants and hotels, looking for credit card receipts that are a gold mine of personal and financial information. Skimming involves the illegal swiping of your credit card through a small point-of-sale device that collects your card information. While these types of identity theft are somewhat unpreventable, you can reduce your chances by using traveler's checks, maintaining a close watch on your card and purchasing identity theft protection.
Those quickie insurance policies at the airport or in the travel agency are fast and convenient, but they are incredibly expensive and may not cover some of your most important liabilities. Take a little time and purchase travel insurance from an independent company. Include your entire tour or cruise package up to at least five percent of your entire travel costs. Some insurance policies may also include identity theft protection and cancelation fees. Always pay travel insurance with a financially-backed credit card should you need to contest charges or make a claim.
To learn how other travelers have protected their information and finances from exposure, check out LifeLock's page on Facebook, where you can find helpful tips, testimonials from real LifeLock users, and promotional offers for current customers of this effective security provider.