Well, 399 of you are, anyway. We're tickled to announce our first book, 'The Smart Traveler's Passport.' It's the best of our 20 Tips column by those in the know--our readers.
I argued that my name had no business being on this book. I'm the editor of Budget Travel, but I didn't come up with these tips--the readers did. When I made my case to the publisher, he said my name was on the book simply so bookstore workers would know where to shelve it.
So please ignore my name. This is your book--and by "you" I mean every reader who has ever submitted a tip to the magazine. The 20 Tips section is the very soul of Budget Travel. It's where we share clever solutions and hard-learned lessons, where we're not afraid to admit our obsession with Ziploc bags. No wonder so many people love it. I know I do: I used to think an occasional tip was ridiculous--until I found myself using it while on a trip.
We're sending a free copy to everyone whose tip was included in the book. I hope those of you who didn't make it will think about buying one--for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for your cat.
And keep sending us tips! Over the next year, we'll be giving published tipsters not just the usual free subscription to the magazine, but also a copy of The Smart Traveler's Passport. Remember: Together we're the smartest travelers out there.
Here's a sampling of what you'll find in the book:
Make Packing a Breeze
It's unnecessary to create a packing list for each trip. Instead, draw up a master list with everything you might need on any given trip--from ski goggles to snorkels. Save it on your computer. Before you pack, cross out anything you don't need for that trip. Bonnie Herbst, Ventura, Calif.
Outsmart Snooty Hotel Clerks
If you book a package online, print a copy of all the details that are included and take it with you. When a hotel clerk in Paris said the breakfast buffet we had enjoyed all week wasn't included, I was able to prove him wrong. He apologized profusely. John Lavelle, Avon Lake, Ohio
Don't Get Stranded at Airports
Try to get on the first flight out in the morning. Those planes often arrive the evening before, so you won't have to rely on an incoming plane, which could be delayed due to bad weather elsewhere, resulting in the delay or cancellation of your flight. George Glover, Brunswick, Maine
When you attend a convention or trade show, the official prices at recommended hotels may not be the best you can do. Go to the hotel website. I recently got an AARP rate that was 30 percent below the special price offered through the trade-show sponsors. Duane Dahl, Santa Fe, N.M.
Plan a Trip the Sneaky Way
We send away for brochures from tour operators. They provide sightseeing itineraries and hotel and restaurant recommendations, which we then follow on our own. Raymond White, Dulles, Va.
Pack Light or You'll Pay for It
On a Ryanair flight between Glasgow and Dublin, my husband and I were charged over $100 for excess baggage. Always check the weight allowances--especially on low-fare airlines--before you leave home. Lynne Heath, Hudson, N.H.
Be a Smooth Operator
Dry-cleaning bags can stop clothes from wrinkling. Slide each garment into its own bag (leave the hanger at home) and place them flat on your bed, one atop another. Then carefully fold the entire stack to fit it in your suitcase. Once you get to your hotel, hang everything up ASAP. Claudette Christman, Colonial Heights, Va.
Increase Your Recharging Power
Many cruise-ship cabins have only one outlet, but you'll need more if you want to power up your laptop, iPod, cell phone, and other gadgets. That's why I pack a power strip. Jay Van Vechten, Boca Raton, Fla.
Don't Just Stand There
If your flight is canceled, call the airline's 800 number while you wait in line. They may answer your call before you reach the front of the line. Karen LoPresto-Arbaugh, Kennett Square, Pa.
Destroy Credit Card Receipts
I bought several items in London and noticed upon returning home that my credit card number was printed in full on each sales slip. (In the U.S., only the final digits of the number are visible.) When overseas, don't leave sales slips lying around. Jackie MacNeil, Santa Maria, Calif.
Check In at Checkout
Before you head to the airport, stop by the front desk of your hotel or cruise ship and ask if they'll print your boarding pass. It'll save time at check-in. It's worked for me at Marriott hotels and on a Celebrity cruise. Rose Jakubaszek, Jersey City, N.J.
Ensure a Nice First Impression
For overnight flights, pack a few Oral B Brush-Ups in your carry-on. You can "brush" your teeth before the plane lands! Janice Pruitt Winfrey, Marietta, Ga.
Ask the Right Questions
My family and I made reservations for a beach condo on Maui. Upon arrival, we were shocked to see a sign at the beach that read no swimming. Make certain you specify a swimming beach. Ruth Herlean, Richmond, Va.
Don't Get Alarmed
Always check to see if a previous hotel guest left the alarm clock on. I've been rudely awakened twice in the last few months. Rachele Hemphill, Napa, Calif.
Shower Wherever You Can
If you fly overnight to Europe and early check-in at your hotel isn't an option, ask if you can store your luggage and use the gym's shower. Pack toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on. Brian Huseman, Washington, D.C.
Make the Right Call
I have "hotel" and "taxi" on my cell-phone speed dial. On a trip, I change the numbers but leave the titles the same--no more slips of paper everywhere. Isabel Burk, New City, N.Y.
Create Your Own Evidence
I take a digital picture of the gas gauge to prove I returned the rental car with a full tank. I've used the photos to get refunds after charges appeared on my credit card bill. Jeff Mishur, Roselle, Ill.
Liven Up Museum Visits
When going to a museum with kids, head to the gift shop first and buy postcards of the museum's most famous works. Your kids can go on a treasure hunt for the masterpieces. Daphna Woolfe, San Jose, Calif.
Avoid Getting Totally Soaked
Always bring a few Ziploc bags whenever you're going to a theme park. They'll protect your cell phone and wallet when you're riding on water attractions. Jack Bell, Kissimmee, Fla.