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Your travel checklist: 10 tips for a worry-free vacation

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Vacations should be a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. But surprises, especially those tied to your finances, can derail the fun. A vacation checklist can help you plan ahead and reduce stress. Here are 10 travel tips to get you started.

Many people do some of their banking online or through a mobile app. But for the frequent traveler, online and mobile banking are invaluable ways to monitor and manage your accounts from almost anywhere, including the beach. Just remember, it’s important you know the answer to your online banking security question—you’ll need it if you log in from a new computer.

When your toes are in the sand, the last thing you want to worry about is if you paid the electric bill. Instead of wondering, pay those bills in advance. If you’ve set up online banking, you can also arrange for automatic payments to be sent while you’re away. You might also want to consider signing up for paperless billing so you’ll have less paper waiting for you when you return.

Imagine you’re dining out or on vacation, only to have your credit card declined. Many banks and credit card companies have fraud-monitoring systems that may interpret unusual activity—like someone using your card in a new location—as fraud. Setting a travel notice before you depart lets your bank or credit card company know you’re in control of your cards, so you can use them worry-free. Just notify your bank via phone or online account. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you can set a travel notice using the mobile app, via your online account, or by calling 1.800.432.1000.

Think of this one as a security blanket. In case of emergencies, make two copies of your passport, credit cards and other travel documents. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home and bring the other copy with you. Some travel sites even recommend taking photos of these documents and storing them in the cloud, so you can access them if your belongings are stolen. Also, it’s a good idea to let someone know your exact travel itinerary.

Speaking of telling people about your travel plans, make sure to contact the post office about holding your mail. layer In addition to keeping your mailbox clear, this helps keep sensitive information in your mail, like bank statements, more secure.

If you’re traveling internationally, take steps to ensure you can safely access your accounts from outside the United States. It’s a good idea to prepare your PIN before traveling abroad. Some international ATMs only support four-digit pins. Be sure your PIN does not start with a zero, and know your PIN by the numbers, as some foreign ATMs do not have letters on the keypads. Some foreign card readers may require you to use a PIN with your credit card. In these cases, you’ll need to use the PIN assigned to your card, so make sure you know it ahead of time.

On the off chance you need medical care while traveling, make sure you know what your health insurance will and won’t cover. If you have a medical condition, you may want to plan ahead and be aware of in-network doctors in the area. If you’re traveling internationally, your insurance may not cover you while you’re away. If that’s the case, private companies offer short-term insurance plans specifically for international travel.

Bring at least two valid, permanent cards with you on your trip, in case one gets lost or stolen. Keep in mind that temporary cards don’t always work, and replacement cards can take several days to arrive. Double-check the cards’ expiration dates, and write down the numbers for customer service; keep them in a separate, safe place in case you need to call them for any reason. If you’re traveling internationally, look into a chip card if you don’t have one already, as many countries require them.

If you’re traveling domestically, it’s a good idea to make sure you have cash on hand in case your bank doesn’t have locations or ATMs where you’re headed. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll probably want to order foreign currency ahead of time. This way, when you land, you’ll have local currency ready to go so you can pay for taxis, snacks and other incidentals without having to track down a currency exchange.

Your bank may not have a location or ATM convenient to where you’re traveling, even if the bank is a national chain. Look up the closest location to your destination. This is true of international travel, as well. If you’re headed abroad, check and see if your home bank has partnered with banks abroad. Using a partner bank’s ATM may help you avoid certain fees. Generally, you can find your banks’ partner network on its website or by calling. Bank of America’s locator allows you to search for international partner ATMs

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