"Hold on, let me just post this."
In today's culture, it seems we must photograph every experience and immediately share it online. We want our friends and family to see us having fun on vacation. Beach photos, tropical drinks, exotic locations – they all wind up on our social media profiles. And whether it's to make everyone else jealous or simply remember the fun we've had, there's a risk to these posts that many of us don't think about...
They can make some people rich.
I'm talking about how many burglars use social media posts to find out if you're traveling and for how long. If you're posting photos and tagging yourself seaside, hundreds of miles away, guess what... You're advertising that you aren't home. And you know what is home? All of your valuables.
According to one survey of convicted burglars, an estimated 75% of burglars use social media to find potential targets.
And it gets worse. Some insurance providers in the U.K. now investigate your social media activity if you file a burglary claim. If you "advertised" that you weren't home, they could argue you broke your contract because you weren't exercising "reasonable care." It's like leaving your doors unlocked – you're just asking for trouble.
It's tempting to show off our vacation photos, but wait until you're home to post them. Not only will it prevent burglaries, but you'll be able to spend more time on vacation enjoying vacation. Get away from it all and unplug.
With 51% of Americans planning a summer vacation this year, we thought we'd share some of our favorite tips to help you relax even more – and save money no matter how or where you travel.
1. Keep it private. To avoid targeting by burglars, don't just wait to share your photos... Make sure to turn off your phone's GPS. And if you do post anything online, make sure the location tagging is off. (You can find a how-to guide right here.)
And take the time to read up on all your social media privacy settings before you go, like limiting who sees your information. Better still, just stop oversharing: Never post your dates of travel, don't check in at airports or out-of-town sites, and never post your address.
2. Pay less at the pump. About 85% of all vacationers this year will choose to stay within the U.S. And almost half will spend that time on road trips. Whether you're driving your kids to a Disney resort or taking a nice coastal getaway, more of us are leaning toward driving instead of flying.
But gas prices are creeping up. Memorial Day weekend saw a surge to more than $3 a gallon (and even up to $5 in some states). That's why we like the app GasBuddy to find the closest and cheapest gas stations in your area. Even saving just $0.30 a gallon can translate to big savings on road trips.
3. Get the best deal on travel. If you've got an itch for a last-minute getaway, be sure to shop around. Our boss, seasoned traveler Dr. David Eifrig, loves the website Kayak. He enjoys using it for quick, last-minute changes in his travel schedule. It's also a good resource if you don't have a destination in mind.
If you're planning further out, I like using Google Flights to track pricing. You can view its "Flight Insights" to see which dates provide the cheapest round-trip price. Last month we saw that changing round-trip dates to Rome from D.C. by just three days dropped the price by more than $800.
4. Find the best deals on rental cars. AutoSlash is a website that searches for the best car-rental rates. All you need to do is enter where you want to pick up the car, the date, and any car preferences you have. AutoSlash will show you the best car deals available in the area.
Better still... if a cheaper rate comes along, AutoSlash will re-book you automatically at the lower rate. One of our colleagues used this feature on a cross-state trip and saved $133 on her rental.
5. Avoid foreign transaction fees. When you're traveling overseas, one thing you shouldn't have to worry about is paying a fee just to use your credit card. But about 90% of credit cards charge foreign transaction fees... ranging from 2% to 4%.
6. Know your hotel. The next time you book a hotel for your vacation, try the travel website Booking.com. The site provides information on property rankings, how many people are looking at staying there, and user reviews.
One catch with Booking.com: You can't use it to plan your whole trip – airfare, rental cars, etc. You can only book your hotel room. But the site doesn't charge any additional fees. So, the rate you see when looking at a room is the rate you'll get.
We hope these six tips will help you save more and enjoy your vacation time this summer. And if you don't have plans, consider taking one. Vacations, even short ones, are a great way to reduce stress and recharge. Have a fun vacation planned? We want to hear about it! Drop us a line at [email protected].
Amanda Cuocci & Laura Bente
June 3, 2018