That's Eligible?! Your winter vacation getaway checklist
Every summer, most of my casual conversations are about the heat. And they usually end with the same line -- "I can't wait for fall."
Then, once the mercury drops and I need to warm up my car a little longer, I find myself wishing it was summer again (usually out loud, to the same people who heard me complain about the heat). But this year, I'm doing something about it - for the first time in years, I'm taking a winter vacation this holiday season.
Now, I'm not the best traveler, but the cold weather is enough of a motivator to get me through airport security without too many nerves or complaints. It also doesn't hurt that there are a lot of products that can help get me on the plane (and through a week with my in-laws).
And -- surprise, surprise -- they're all FSA-eligible.
Hot/cold therapy eye mask
Airplanes are just filled with recycled air (I mean, they kinda have to be) which wreaks havoc on my sinuses. And once they kick in, it can be days before the discomfort goes away -- that is, unless I get ahead of them.
Hot/cold therapy eye masks may not be a high-fashion accessory, but just think of how much better you'll look when the plane lands. Thanks to these simple gems, I'm able to suppress sinus headache pain with the added bonus of sleeping comfortably on the flight and even getting rid of the bags under my eyes.
Plus, if my son is acting up during the flight, I can easily explain that I didn't see it happen. Another headache avoided.
Thanks to increased capacity (and decreased leg room) the days of leaning back and sleeping properly on a plane are long gone. But rather than arrive at your destination with your neck at an odd angle, a simple therapeutic neck pillow can be the difference between a pleasant start to your trip and a vacation nightmare.
These orthopedic supports aren't hi-tech health by any means, but on a cramped flight (or bus, or train, or car, or…) they're nothing short of magical. Something as simple as a contoured cushion can keep your neck aligned, even in the most-limited spaces, so you're not in agony when it's time to head to baggage claim.
Of all the things I've spent my FSA funds on over the years, very few things get as much use as my travel neck support pillow.
Travel first-aid kit
Normally, this is where I'd write something about my kids getting the usual scrapes and bruises from playing hard and being over-excited. But in reality, my wife is the one that benefits most from a travel first-aid kit.
Now, I'm not calling her clumsy. But I'm pretty sure everyone else would. No matter where we're headed, or what time of day it is, she's good for at least one incident per flight. I don't know how she does it, or why it continues to happen, but there isn't enough bubble wrap in the world to prevent her from getting scraped in the airport.
She also cuts herself on wrapping paper, so since it's a holiday vacation, we might pack two kits, just in case...
Acupressure wrist bands
While I'm not a "good" traveler, my kids struggle big time -- mostly with motion sickness. Not only on the plane, but also in amusement parks, rental cars, hotel shuttles, and pretty much anywhere you don't want it to happen.
So, when they released acupressure wrist bands, my wife and I jumped at the chance to buy them with tax-free funds. These clinically proven wrist bands very subtly apply pressure to key points on your wrist that help stave off that horrible queasy feeling.
At first, I didn't believe it would work, until a vacation boat trip encouraged me to check it out. After three hours crossing choppy waters at high speeds, I was sold. Now my kids can enjoy their vacation without letting nausea get in the way of a good time.
If there's any takeaway to pull from this article (other than realizing you never want to travel with my family) it's that these products would likely be necessary even if they weren't FSA-eligible. But being able to supply my travel bag using tax-free funds only makes it easier.
One last thing to keep in mind for your winter travel -- if you're traveling to another country and think you'll buy things "when you get there" there's the possibility you can get FSA-eligible items, but you'll have to use them entirely while you're there. And you probably won't be able to use your FSA card. So, get ahead of your travel planning, shop now, and thank yourself later.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.