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Tourists  in front of Blue Mosque in Istanbul Sultanahmet(TNS)–While people disagree on many topics, there’s one thing most people can agree on: Vacations are great.

Some might prefer big cities or public beaches, while others seek out quiet countrysides or towering mountains. Whatever your vacation dreams happen to be, it’s important to plan your trip so it goes smoothly.

Travel experts and financial advisors recommend this to-do list as you plan a trip:

Make a Budget
There’s nothing worse than planning a trip and then realizing too late in the process that you can’t afford it. Research your costs online to make sure your desired location is affordable. Secure lodging and transportation as early as you can. Get an idea of how much you’ll spend on daily activities, like eating and entertainment.

Check out Foreign Transaction Fees
If your plans include foreign travel, make sure you don’t get hosed by foreign transaction fees. Irina Vishnevskaya, founder of allé travel, a custom travel planning service, says travelers should contact their credit card issuer early to find out whether they charge transaction fees in a foreign country, and if so, how much. Generally, fees range from 1 percent to 3 percent of the purchase amount. However, there are cards that promise no foreign transaction fees, so plan this aspect out weeks or months before your trip to give yourself a chance to apply and receive one of those cards.

Alert Your Bank to Travel Plans
Once you’ve made your travel plans, contact your bank or credit card provider with your itinerary, recommended Barry Choi, a personal finance and budget travel expert at Your card could be flagged or frozen if the issuer suspects fraudulent activity in a foreign land, so head off potential trouble by informing your card issuer of your destination, and the dates, before you go.

Pay Bills Before You Go
Make sure you’ve paid your monthly and other bills that will become due while you’re away to avoid possible late fees.

“If you’re not sure exactly how much you owe, log in to your online bank or call your credit card company directly to find out your current balance,” Choi says. “It’s better to have a zero balance before you leave as opposed to returning home and owing interest or late fees.”

Consider Insurance
While many people assume their vacations will go off without a hitch, that’s not always the case. Philip Lee, a wealth manager with Modera Wealth Management, recommended purchasing travel insurance as well as medical and death insurance.

“Illness and injuries can wreck a vacation,” Lee says. “With proper insurance coverage, these issues will not put a damper on your finances.”

Stay Secure
Make sure you secure your valuables in a hotel safe if possible. Only carry items that you need each day, and make sure to never let your wallet or phone leave your sight.

These tips might seem like a lot to think about before packing your bags, but they are simple steps you can take that will spare you headaches and heartache. Doing some sound financial planning before you leave for your big trip will allow you to enjoy your travels that much more.

Caroline Hailey writes for

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