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Bottom Line Up Front

  • When planning for a trip, in addition to checking off typical pre-travel to-do items, be sure to plan ahead for financial essentials, like arranging for bills to be paid while you’re gone or making sure you have more than 1 way to pay while traveling.
  • Your financial institution has your back, but taking some simple proactive steps, like letting them know you’ll be traveling, can ensure your credit card won’t be flagged and your trip will go even smoother.
  • You’ll enjoy a more relaxing vacation if you plan for the unexpected ahead of time. Consider buying travel or flight insurance and make sure things like life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment coverage and your estate plan are up to date.

Time to Read

6 minutes

June 26, 2024

Fun in the sun, hiking in the mountains, road trips and exploring new places—people love to travel. And, in the excited rush to leave, most people hurriedly ask themselves, “Have I forgotten anything?” Our pre-travel financial checklist can help you confidently answer, “Nope, I’m all set!”

  1. Plan Ahead

    This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how fast spending can get out of control if you haven’t made a plan and set a budget. Once you’ve figured out what you can afford to spend, it’ll be easier to choose fun getaways and attractions that won’t break the bank.

    Not going on a pre-paid tour, cruise or renting a car? Get familiar with local costs, like food, fuel, train, subway and bus fares and the availability of ride shares. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll also want to know just how far your dollar will go. So, it’s a good idea to learn what the exchange rates are for the countries you’ll be visiting.

    Does your credit card company charge foreign transaction fees? If so, you’ll want to account for that in your travel budget. Navy Federal never charges foreign transaction fees on any of our credit cards.

    And finally, make sure your bills are up to date. If your due dates will fall during your trip, consider paying ahead of time or turning on automated bill pay to avoid late fees or service interruption.

  2. Check in With the U.S. Department of State

    Before traveling overseas, be sure to visit The U.S. Department of State provides important information on countries that don’t allow credit cards as well as required documents, driving abroad, how to get emergency assistance, security alerts and more. You can also join their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for free. You’ll receive emails from the local U.S. embassy or consulate with real-time updates. And, if there’s an emergency where you are, you’ll receive instructions on what to do.

  3. Look for Deals

    Whether you’re a global wanderer or prefer to stay closer to home, opportunities for discounted car, hotel and vacation rentals, air fare and cruises are everywhere. Some sites like, Travelocity, and many others even offer all-inclusive packages.

    More Discounts

    Before you buy luggage, clothes for your trip or other pre-travel purchases, check out our Member Deals page. Navy Federal members can get discounts at more than 900 well-known retailers. And, when you use your Navy Federal credit card, you may also earn extra points or bonus cash back.

  4. Plan for the Unexpected

    Your trip probably will go off without a hitch, but sometimes the unexpected happens. Trips get canceled and occasionally people get sick or injured. Just knowing you’re covered can reduce some of the stress. Here are some options to consider.

    Flight Insurance. What do you do if you have to cancel a trip and you have a non-refundable ticket? That’s where flight insurance comes in. There are any number of options that range from just covering the cost of your tickets to ones that also cover medical and other expenses.

    Travel Insurance. What if you miss your flight connection, your luggage is lost or you get sick while traveling? Travel insurance can save the day. One example is if you need medical care while traveling. Your health insurance plan may not cover medical costs incurred in other countries or on cruises. It’s an especially good idea if you’re going on a cruise because most cruise lines don’t accept “land-based” medical coverage.

    Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D). Accidents happen. If someone is permanently injured or passes due to an accident, AD&D policies will pay out a lump sum. The cost is usually less than traditional life insurance, and you can get coverage quickly.

    Life Insurance and Estate Documents. Let’s face it, life sometimes goes off script. So, it’s a good idea to make sure your life insurance needs are up to date before your trip. Plus, since your estate planning documents put on record your most important wishes, take a few minutes to review them to confirm they still reflect your current goals.

  5. Make Sure You’re Protected

    Your financial institution is your trusted partner. They can make sure you have what you need while traveling. Before you leave, make sure you’re protected with these 4 items.

    Get a Travel PIN. Some countries require a pin number on credit card transactions. If you expect to be abroad, contact your financial institution a month or 2 before you’re due to travel to get one. You should also check to be sure your debit card pin will work.

    Set Up a Travel Notification. Before you jet off, let your bank or credit union know where and when you’ll be traveling, so they’ll know it’s you making the transactions. And, don’t forget to include any layover locations. Otherwise, if they suddenly see purchases in a location you don’t usually visit, they could freeze your card to guard against possible fraud. Navy Federal members can notify us in seconds by choosing “travel notifications” in our mobile app.* If you don’t already have the app, here’s how to download it.

    Set Up Purchase Notifications. Turn on purchase notifications. That way, if you misplace your card, you’ll know right away if someone tries to use it. And, you can notify your bank or credit union and freeze your card. If you’re a Navy Federal member, you can set them up in our mobile app in seconds.

    Get Contact Information. Get your bank or credit union’s contact information (both domestic and foreign), so you know how to contact them if you have a problem. Navy Federal members can call us 24/7 at 1-888-842-6328 or by calling one of our international numbers if overseas. Or, have a local operator connect you to 1-888-842-6328.

  6. Have More Than 1 Way to Pay

    You can’t predict when a merchant will only accept cash, you lose a card or your card won’t work. So, having more than 1 way to pay just makes sense.

    Mobile Wallet. If you lose your wallet, having Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay or Google Pay® on your phone can be a lifesaver until you can replace your cards.

    A Second Card. It might be a good idea to have a second card, just in case you misplace your main one.

    Cash. Although you probably don’t want to carry a lot of cash, it’s a good idea to have some available for tips or merchants who don’t accept cards. Most countries have ATMs where you can get local currency.

We’ll Be There for Each Step of Your Financial Journey

Once you’re back home, no matter where you are in your financial journey, Navy Federal Investment Services can help you make a plan to live well, build a secure future and protect what you’ve built. With services like financial planninginvestment tools and strategiesaffordable life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment options,  estate planning and more, we can help you build a strategy that meets your goals and fits your budget.

Just want to kick some ideas around? Set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation with a financial advisor near you.


Apple Pay is a trademark of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Samsung Pay is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Google Pay is a trademark of Google LLC.

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.