You need a travel Plan B

With sky-high costs for travel, it always helps to have a back-up plan. This article recommends several ways to prepare and how a Plan B can help you save.

Kyodo/Reuters/File
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp's Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) takes off for a test flight at Nagoya Airfield in Toyoyama town, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, November 11, 2015. Always have a Plan B for travel.

My time in the military molded me into someone who always anticipates alternatives in potentially stressful situations. It’s something we commonly referred to as having a “plan B.”

I find this quality particularly helpful now that I’m a financial planner. I advise people whose lives might not follow the financial plan we’ve designed. They often need a plan B.

Another part of my role as an advisor that requires plenty of plan B’s is my frequent travel. I fly or take trains all over the country to meet with my clients. As you can imagine, things come up: illness, flight delays or cancellations, and lost bags, to name a few. Again, you need a plan B.

Based on my years in the military, my travel experience and my penchant for having a backup plan, here are some ways to ensure that your pricey vacation isn’t ruined by foiled travel plans:

  1. Know the 800 number. Use it to rebook if the flight or other transit you plan to take is delayed significantly or canceled. You can also find alternative flights and nearby airports online.
  2. Be a frequent flier. Frequent flier status can help in many situations, especially once you’ve accumulated miles. Keep enough on hand to buy a ticket — this is usually about 50,000 for domestic flights — in case you have to change your plans or travel at the last minute. Amtrak also offers a frequent traveler program that can help you amass points for the day when you have to buy a high-priced, last-minute ticket.
  3. Make copies of identification documents. This includes your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, Social Security card, known traveler card and any other documents that could be useful in a pinch. Save them as pictures on your smartphone and in a folder in the cloud that you can access from someone else’s computer, if needed.
  4. Take a screenshot of your boarding pass on your phone. You never know when the app or email you use to board will fail to work.
  5. Research potential travel troubles. Sites such as flyertalk.com and tripadvisor.com offer lots of advice about what to do in chaotic or risky situations. You can also get input from friends who travel often on how they plan ahead for potential disruptions.

Financial plan B’s

When considering the bigger picture of your financial security, it’s even more critical to adapt to whatever life brings. Working with a financial planner can help you find the best alternatives for you and your family when things don’t go as planned.

This article first appeared at NerdWallet.

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