Make the Most of Your Summer Vacation
Create a solid saving and spending plan for your upcoming travels this season
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the unofficial start to summer: a time for outdoor activities, evenings spent grilling with friends and family and, of course, summer vacations. Whether you’re planning to hit the road or take to the skies, there are some important financial considerations when planning your next trip. As you dream about your next vacation, Umpqua Bank is offering tips to help you make the most of your trip with a solid plan to save and spend this summer season—and avoid falling victim to a vacation scam.
Here are our top tips heading into travel season:
- Set a budget and plan your trip around it. Take a good look at your finances and set realistic expectations for what you can afford without accruing vacation debt. For example, if you have your heart set on a specific location, consider traveling in the “shoulder season” (outside of peak travel times, typically in spring or early fall). Or, if you’re just looking to get away, research destination options that may help you save. Remember: Your budget should include everything—not just the flight and hotel. Think about costs for meals, transportation at your destination and any excursions you’d like to go on. This will give you a far more realistic expectation of the total cost.
- Start a dedicated vacation fund. It’s never too late to start saving for your next vacation—even if it’s already booked. If your travel fund is mixed in with your general savings account, it can be tempting to dip into the fund for other expenses. Consider opening a separate savings account specifically for your vacation fund, which will help you keep an eye on exactly where you’re at financially. You can even set up recurring automatic payments from your checking account to this savings account to contribute regularly. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it adds up!
- Use credit sparingly—but to your advantage. It can be easy to fall into the trap of using your credit card to pay for a vacation without paying it off right away, but that sets you up for fees and interest that add up long after your trip is over. You can, however, use a credit card to your advantage. Many credit cards offer perks such as earning rewards for everyday purchases that can be redeemed for airfare, hotels and more. And, a credit card often offers additional (and significant) advantages like trip cancellation coverage or no foreign transaction fees. Just be sure to read the fine print of what a credit card offers!
And, with these tips in mind, it’s also more important than ever to keep an eye out for scammers trying to take advantage of the increased interest in hotel, flight and vacation bookings.
“Scammers are incredibly opportunistic, and increasingly savvy,” says Jon Stockton, Umpqua Bank’s Director of Fraud. “They are always inventing new ways to make something seem legitimate when it’s not—which means it’s important to stay extra vigilant.”
Here are some helpful tips to avoid turning your dream trip into a nightmare—and a big headache—due to a vacation scam:
- Verify Your Booking Site: Before you book your ticket, do some research. Does the website have a verifiable physical address and phone number? Do they have any Better Business Bureau complaints that might make you pause? When in doubt, booking directly from an airline or hotel is your safest bet—but remember, scammers are getting more and more clever, so double check that the website URL is the verified site of the company you are intending to book from.
- Use Reputable Vacation Rental Services: Scammers often fabricate or even steal real rental property information to create fraudulent booking sites in an attempt to steal your information. If possible, call ahead to confirm a rental’s availability and speak to an actual person. And, use reputable vacation rental services that offer fraud protection.
- Utilize Your Credit Card: Using a credit card often offers you more peace of mind because they have additional built-in protections against fraud, including things like vacation protection. Be wary of the payment methods your booking site is requesting; if they require you to wire the funds or provide a cashier’s check, it’s likely a scam.
- Protect Yourself While You’re Out: Always keep your purse or wallet on you and in your possession when you’re traveling. Even a quick stop at a gas station or rest area is an invitation for an opportunistic scammer to snatch it. And, be sure to take note of any numbers or records you may need in the event you have to report a stolen or lost card to your financial institution. Remember: If you find yourself a victim (or suspected victim) of a scam, be sure to call your financial institution right away to start the process of reporting a stolen card or compromised account.
“Every year, we see scammers taking advantage of people trying to find a good deal,” Stockton says. “Just remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is—whether it’s a flight deal or an ultra-cheap vacation rental. Be extra careful and perform your own due diligence to verify their authenticity.”
With these tips in mind and a plan in place, you can be confident that you’re maximizing your next big trip—and feeling good that you won’t come back with vacation-related guilt.
About Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank is a subsidiary of Columbia Banking System Inc., and a premier regional bank in the Western U.S., operating in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. With over $50 billion of assets, Umpqua combines the resources, sophistication and expertise of a national bank with a commitment to deliver personalized service at scale. The bank consistently ranks as one of America’s Best Banks (ranked by Forbes) and supports consumers and businesses through a full suite of services, including retail and commercial banking; Small Business Administration lending; institutional and corporate banking; equipment leasing; and wealth management. The company is headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and trades under the ticker symbol COLB on the Nasdaq. Learn more at https://www.umpquabank.com.