Travel Tips From Fellow Travelers

imageSo, I like researching the web and I figured I would do a post on unique and genuinely helpful travel tips I have found.

If you’re going camping and plan to build a fire, collect the lint from your dryer in a Ziploc bag to use as a starter. It weighs almost nothing, ignites right away, and saves you from having to gather kindling. Kim Senkler, Knoxville, Tenn.

The disposable shower caps in hotel bathrooms make great shoe covers. Just slip a cap over each shoe and you won’t have to worry about getting everything else in your suitcase dirty. Charlene Winges, Burlingame, Calif.

I found a fun use for change from foreign countries. Attach a piece of magnetic tape to the back of the coin, and voilà — instant fridge magnet! It makes for an inexpensive souvenir, and it always reminds me of good times. Joshua House, Pensacola, Fla.

If you don’t have a sunglasses case, store your shades in one of those tube-shaped containers that Crystal Light is sold in. The tubes are just the right size and rigid enough to protect the glasses. Plus, it’s no great loss if you misplace one. Christopher Wolters, Pearland, Tex.

I like to learn about the regional food culture when I go to a new place, so I check for farmers markets in the area. The site lists info for hundreds of markets across the U.S., including the days and times they’re open, as well as examples of what types of food the vendors sell. Alane Brown, Durango, Colo.

When you’re packing for a ski vacation, wrap clothing around your skis or snowboards. You’ll be protecting your equipment and cutting down on the number of bags you have to pack. Kimberly Nicoletti, Dillon, Colo.

If you take a cab in Las Vegas, ask the driver to use Industrial Road or Paradise Road instead of Las Vegas Boulevard. Both routes run parallel to the Strip, but they aren’t nearly as crowded.

The London Underground sells its Visitor Travelcards on the Web ( and charges nothing to mail them to you before you leave home. Cards are good for three, four, or seven days of unlimited travel on the Tube (subway) and buses. Most tourist sites are located in zones one and two; a seven-day card for these zones costs $40. With individual trips costing more than $4, the card pays for itself in less than two trips per day! Jeanette Langdell, Sunnyvale, Calif.

The most effective money-saver you can bring with you is an expandable tote bag for the food you’ve purchased at foreign groceries. Our breakfasts and picnic lunches turned out to be healthier, tastier, fresher, and much cheaper than their restaurant counterparts. Tara Achenbach, Union City, N.J.

When you plan to travel by train and know you might have to store your luggage out of arm’s reach, pack a piece of cord or a strap to tether your bags together. The unwieldy arrangement makes it harder for a thief to run off with your belongings. Jennifer Horne, Cottondale, Ala.

When I travel with friends, we all enter each other’s emergency information into our cell phones. We include details like full name, date of birth, and a contact back home. If anything happens, we’re fully prepared to take action. Anita Woodmass, Renton, Wash.

I pack my necklaces in a plastic sandwich bag, drape the clasp ends over the top, and tape them to the outside of the bag. No matter how much my suitcase gets jostled around in transit, I never have to worry about a tangled mess when I arrive. Jill Katich, Waterford, Mich.

When you’re kayaking, canoeing, or rafting, attach a fishing float to the strap that’s holding your regular glasses or sunglasses. If you happen to fall overboard, retrieving your glasses will be a snap. Susan Bolding, West Fork, Ark.

If you think you’ll be returning to a hotel, ask the housekeepers what the best rooms are. They really know, and if a room is empty, they’ll often show it to you. Write down the room number, and request it the next time you make a reservation or when you check in. George Green, Houston, Tex.

Are you tired of catching colds while traveling? Take along a travel-size package of Clorox wipes. Disinfect the tray table and armrests on the airplane, and the telephone and TV remote in your hotel room. Sherill Hacker, Williamston, Mich.

Don’t toss out old prescription glasses. Whenever my husband and I get new pairs of eyeglasses, we relegate the old ones to our luggage, along with an inexpensive repair kit from the drugstore. If something happens while we’re away from home, we can hopefully fix the glasses ourselves. If they’re beyond saving, we have the backup pairs to get us through the rest of the trip. Carol Alabaster, Phoenix, Ariz.

Even disposable-camera lenses should be protected. They scratch just like any other lens would. Place a small piece of painter’s tape (or another kind that won’t stick too much) over the lens to protect it from contact with other items in your purse or backpack during travel. Hugo Scherzberg, Concord, Calif.

Pool money for group expenses. When I travel with friends, we all contribute to a kitty and use that money to pay for things like taxis and meals. It saves us from figuring out each person’s share at every stop. At the end of the trip we split whatever remains. —Carol Moran, Chesterfield, Mo.

Dry-cleaning bags stop clothes from wrinkling. Slide each garment into its own bag (leave the hanger at home) and place them flat on your bed, one on top of another. Then carefully fold the entire stack to fit it in your suitcase. Once you get to your hotel, hang everything up as soon as you reasonably can. If you use this little trick, you’ll never unpack a suitcase of wrinkled clothes again. —Claudette Christman, Colonial Heights, Va.

The perfect toiletries bag does exist! I’ve finally discovered one that’s just right: a soft-sided lunchbox. It has an outer zipped pocket with compartments perfect for often-used items like a toothbrush and toothpaste. There’s a removable zipper pouch inside (meant for an ice pack) for those smaller, hard-to-find items like nail files and pill bottles. The remaining space inside is just the right size for larger things like shampoo and hand lotion. Other helpful features include both a small handle and shoulder strap, and a waterproof, easy-to-clean interior. As an elementary school teacher, I know firsthand that it will last, having been designed to withstand daily use by kids! —Jennifer Minton, Glencoe, Calif.

Bring a laundry kit. Pack a one-gallon Ziploc bag and a travel-size shampoo container refilled with detergent. These come in handy when you need to wash hosiery, bras, and other delicate undergarments. Put a few drops of detergent into the bag and fill it partway with water. Place the item you want to wash in the bag, close it up, and shake it around for a few minutes. Instant washing machine! For larger pieces of clothing, I’ve used the plastic laundry bags supplied at most hotels. Just hold the open end tightly. —Erika Kumada, Mount Prospect, Ill.

Put your old contact lens cases to work. Do you hate the idea of wasting that last bit of lipstick or concealer that always seems to get stuck in the bottom of the tube? Scoop it out and put it into a clean contact lens case. The case is watertight, holds enough for a weekend trip, and fits easily in any purse or toiletries bag. —Ronda P. Martinez, Philadelphia, Pa.

Spa savings on cruise ships. I’ve been on many cruises with various lines (Carnival, Costa, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, American Hawaii, and most recently, Princess), and I’ve learned that the spas usually offer discounts on days that the ship is docked. Rhonda Grabov, Philadelphia, Pa.

Negotiate past expiration dates. I save all the specials from Travelzoo and other websites, regardless of their dates of validity. When I want to use one of the specials, I call the hotel or tour company’s sales director; many times I’ll get the deal even if it isn’t officially available. After all, they’re trying to fill rooms and tours, especially at the last minute. I used this idea last week to stay at a hotel for free–all I had to do was agree to spend a certain amount in the spa each day. Dr. Patty Boone, Colorado Springs, Colo.

We attach the cruise line–supplied luggage tags (they have our cabin number on them) to the items we carry around the ship–binoculars, knitting bag, etc. This way, if we forget something by the pool or in the dining room, it can easily be returned by a crew member.

Pack a power strip and extension cord for your next cruise. Many cruise-ship cabins have only one outlet, but you’ll definitely need more if you want to power up your laptop, iPod, cell phone, electric razor, hairdryer, or any other gadgets you bring on board. –Jay Van Vechten, Boca Raton Fla.

Consider bringing your bike on a cruise. We decided to bring our own bikes on our last Caribbean cruise. It was a little crowded in the cabin, so we asked the steward if we could store them down the hall with the wheelchairs. We were last off the ship when we docked in Bermuda, but in less than five minutes we’d left our fellow passengers in the dust. And in less than 15 minutes, we were far away from the busy port, enjoying a beautiful, deserted snorkeling beach. –Wayne Matchett, Chesapeake, Va.

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