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Vacation Beckons…Help in Saving Your Moo-lah

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad? Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Do you ever feel like the Mad Hatter? Well, then, welcome to everyone’s life adventure. As Earl Wilson, who was an actor and journalist, once said, “A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

One vacation problem for a lot of us—
Me: I really want to travel.
Bank Account: Like…to the backyard?

How to Travel Inexpensively

Well, here are some tips to help you have a vacation for less money.  Whether you choose to save for a particular trip or decide to simply make time for some short journeys (even if it just to the backyard), you don’t want to spend more than you should.  One way to take vacations that are enjoyable but not financially restricting is to first make a travel budget for your dream trips and/or shorter journeys you might want to take throughout the year.

If you want to stay in Oklahoma, you can “Travel OK”—for a day trip or longer.  Our state has an abundance of great places to visit—some of which I bet you don’t even know about.  Review the website for the Oklahoma Department of Tourism.  They have an awesome way to help you figure out what things you might want to do.  In fact, they have 66 different categories for you to explore all the exciting things you can do in Oklahoma.   To whet your appetite, here are just a few of the categories: American Indian Culture, Antiquing, Barbecue, Bed & Breakfasts, Canoeing & Kayaking, Festivals & Events, Guest Ranches, Oklahoma Road Trips, Romance, Watchable Wildlife, Wineries, Zoos & Aquariums, and much more.  This site also has an Oklahoma Deals & Coupons section for printable coupons, special offers and package deals to make your vacation even more affordable, and you could even sign up for eNewsletters to receive the latest Oklahoma travel information and deals.

Some of the above Oklahoma trips could be known as “staycations.”  A staycation is a period of time in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night although you would probably be dining out more than usual.  Check out some staycation ideas for spending less.

If you don’t want to stay in Oklahoma, the same types of affordable trips can be taken in surrounding states.  Here are some links you can use to check out Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Colorado, or Missouri.

Tips on Staying Safe on Your Trips

Vacations are for reducing stress, not adding to it. Unfortunately, things can happen to make any vacation a stressful experience, no matter how beautiful the locale or destination.

Travel safety begins before you even leave the house. Securing your home for vacation is one of the most important steps you can take, even if only for a day. You want to make sure your home looks lived in while you are away, to deter potential burglars. Statistics show that crime rates rise by about 10 percent in June, July, and August, which also happen to be the peak summer vacation months. Thieves know this, so it’s vital you take steps to help protect your home while you are away.

Some things you are not able to control, such as the weather or flight delays. Other things, such as missing documents or stolen credit cards, have the potential to interrupt your fun but do not have to end your vacation if you are prepared.

Before you pack your bags and turn on your email out-of-office message, here are some tips to make your vacation one for the books.

Before you leave on vacation:

  • Tell a neighbor your travel plans and ask them to help keep an eye on your property and alert the police to any suspicious activity.
  • Lock all your windows and doors. Don’t forget about doors leading to the garage or second-story windows.
  • Have mail and newspaper delivery stopped if you are going to be gone for more than a couple of days. A sign that nobody is home is a stack of mail and newspapers, as well as garbage cans left at the curb. You can temporarily stop delivery by contacting your newspaper carrier and the United States Post Office and have a neighbor bring in the garbage bins.  If you trust your neighbor, they could also pick up your mail if you don’t want to actually stop delivery.
  • Make sure any yard tools are put away. A ladder, rakes, and even patio furniture, can all be used as tools to gain entry to your home.
  • Make Copies of Your ID and Passport: Make two photocopies of your license or passport in case either is lost or stolen. Bring one copy and store it separately from your original, and leave another with a friend or relative. The U.S. Government also offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program permits enrollment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which can assist during an emergency such as a lost or stolen passport.
  • Streamline Your Wallet: Lost wallets are the leading cause of identity theft. Only carry the card(s) you plan to use on your trip, and leave your checkbook and the rest of your cards at home. If you decide to bring more than one credit card, consider stashing the extra, along with account information and customer service numbers for the cards you have with you, in a hotel safe or other secure location.
  • Check Out Guides: Before you book that zip-lining, parasailing or river rafting trip, check online for any customer reviews. Seeing what others have to say about the company and the excursion can help you choose a safe and well-run adventure.

At the airport:

Once you arrive at the airport, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. Airports are full of people, all rushing to catch a plane or make a connection. You need to keep a close eye on your luggage at all times, even once you board the plane.

  • If you’re traveling alone, try to find someone in line to befriend. This is someone who could watch your luggage while at the counter or going through security.
  • When going through security, put your laptop on the x-ray belt last. This way, your laptop will come out after your carryon luggage and hopefully about the time you are cleared. You don’t want your laptop in the open for too long.
  • On the airplane, if you don’t put your luggage under the seat in front of you, put it in the overhead bin across the aisle from you. You’ll be able keep an eye on your bag during flight to ensure nobody is opening your luggage.

When picking up your luggage at the baggage area, keep your luggage in front of you as you wait for your additional bags.

While on vacation:

Don’t relax on safety when you are actually at your destination. Whether at a theme park, a fancy resort, or at the museum, there are a few safety precautions you can take to make sure you are as safe as possible.

  • Stay off social media. Don’t tip criminals off by sharing too much information on your social networks. Refrain from posting photos, status updates, or “checking in” while on vacation as this advertises your absence from home. Even if you have the highest security settings on Facebook and Twitter, your personal information could still be seen by unwanted eyes. Real-time updates can be tempting, but wait until you return safely home before sharing your adventures.
  • Tell friends and family at home your itinerary. It’s a good idea to let family and friends know your plans. Always let someone know when you’re expected to be back and what route you’re planning to take.
  • Keep cash and credit cards separate places. Never carry your credit cards, cash, and passport at the same time. You’ll want to keep some cash in your wallet, and then stash the rest in a pocket or money pouch. If you have a safe in your hotel room, leave the majority of your cash there and only bring what you’ll need for the day.
  • Make a copy of your passport. You’ll want to make two copies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a trusted friend or family member and take another copy with you. When you go out sightseeing, take the copy with you and leave the original in a hotel safe until you are ready to travel again.
  • Do a security sweep of your hotel room. Always keep your hotel door locked and never answer it for someone you don’t know. If you can, try to get a room near the front desk or the elevator.
  • Travel like a Local. When visiting any location, know your surroundings and plan your route in advance. Be aware of how the locals talk and dress, and consider whether certain actions will make you stand out as a tourist.

Check the Weather. Into every life—and vacation—a little rain must fall, so take steps to protect yourself from lightning, hail, thunderstorms and severe weather by monitoring the local weather and packing the appropriate gear. Also, keep tabs on the weather at home to make sure your property is protected.

You can never be too careful, especially when it comes to traveling. Make sure things are safe at home and while you are traveling by taking the necessary precautions.

And remember…

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.

Robert Orben, comedy writer

Reduce that stress! Get out there and have at least some kind of vacation!  Personally, I like Nothing to Do!—at least for a while!

A couple of CSQuest articles you might want to review (whether or not you take a vacation) are Tips for Relieving Stress Quickly by Using Your Senses and Reasons Why Smiling and Laughter are Beneficial to Your Health.

No matter whether you go on vacation or not, just have fun–and take care of yourself!