Two weeks ago I went to Florida for a convention. I’d like to say that I had fun all the while I was there but that wouldn’t be the case. The distress came from monetary issues I had that I wasn’t expecting. Planning time away does take thought, but there are things we don’t always do because we expect it’s been taken care of.

With my problems still in my mind I thought I’d put out these tips in case they’re things you haven’t thought of on your own.

1. Verify, Verify, Verify. I had a travel agent help me with part of my planning since I couldn’t find a direct flight to my location on my own. She also helped me book my car rental. When I arrived at my destination, even though I had an invoice saying there was zero balance, it turned out that what I thought had been paid was only a holding fee. Thus, there was almost $250 out of my pocket I hadn’t planned for.

2. Car rental holding fees. While we’re at it, I gave the car rental place my business banking card, expecting them to charge is as a credit card. Instead, they treat those as debit cards, which means they take out an extra deposit for almost the amount that your charges will be. Lucky for me, I got to the hotel to check my bank balances, saw they’d throw me into a overage, and was able to move money from my personal account to cover it all. When I called the company to complain about it I asked why I wasn’t told about this fee and the woman said I should have been told. That didn’t help me much, but luckily the hold was released the next day.

3. Plane reservations aren’t always enough. I had purchased my flight and tickets at least 2 months ahead, but it turns out all I paid for was the reservation and not the tickets. Therefore, I had to have my seats assigned when I got to the airport. Heading down was no problem but I almost didn’t get home on the same day because I was told seating was overbooked. Seems that you’re only guaranteed a ticket if you buy it off the airline’s own site. Also, they were offering $100 upgrades to first class but only to those who’d purchased tickets at their site; that would have been sweet.

4. Find out of there’s a grocery store close to your location. Because I suddenly thought my money situation was in some jeopardy I decided to find a grocery store so I could buy some things there instead of purchasing them from the hotel (for instance, I bought a bottle of water and a small Snickers bar that cost me $6 at the hotel). I got lucky in having the grocery store in the mall right next to my hotel, but not everyone else up with that kind of luck. Even if you end up buying more than you need, it’ll cost way less in the long run, and if you have a refrigerator in your room like I did, even better.

5. However much money you’re thinking about taking, if it’s not at least $500 you’re not planning well enough. I don’t always like traveling with a lot of money on me, knowing I can access ATMs along the way. However, those bank fees add up, and if you have the possibility of running into some of the problems I did, and you always do, it’s nice to have more money on you than you thought you needed. I spent way more money my first day than I had planned for, but it was a stressful day. Money management was much better after that, especially once the car rental place released the hold on my bank money, but it would have been a more carefree day if I’d started out with more money on hand; money really does bring peace of mind.

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