20 Tips

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Illustration by Jon Cannell

Tips you send in. This month: advice for hurricane season, how to get an aisle seat, and a good idea for chronic key losers.

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1. You've got the power My girlfriend and I went to Jamaica during hurricane season, figuring the cheap tickets would be worth the risk. Sure enough, a hurricane hit. Luckily, our resort had a generator, which supplied power throughout the storm, so we still had a wonderful vacation. Now when we plan a trip to a hurricane-prone area, we always ask the hotel if there's a generator on the premises. Christopher Schubert, Staten Island, N.Y.

2. Give 'em your number I've lost my keys twice--once in Miami and once in Orlando--and they were returned to me both times because I had attached a tag with my phone number to the key ring. Each time, the person who found my keys was able to call me right away. Zanifa de Gregory, Orlando, Fla.

3. Make some noise I've discovered a way to drown out traffic and other troublesome sounds that can carry through hotel walls. I turn the TV to a channel with no station, just static, and then I adjust the brightness to darken the screen so there's no light. The white noise of the static lulls me to sleep every time. Roland Calagos, Modesto, Calif.

4. Separation anxiety If you pack electronics in your carry-on, be sure to include all cords, chargers, and adapters in the same bag. When my wife and I went to Africa, we put our cameras in the carry-on, and we packed the cords in our checked baggage. Our bags didn't show up in Tanzania, however, so we had all the equipment but no way to recharge it, and we couldn't find replacements. Andrew Fritz, Somerset, N.J.

5. Call it a playover If you find yourself at Chicago O'Hare with a lengthy layover, consider going to the Hilton there. A day-use fee of $11 gives you access to the gym--including the swimming pool. Or you can get a massage (it's best to schedule this in advance). Erin Caslavka, Carlsbad, Calif.

6. Head-to-toe cleaner My husband and I have found that our leather walking shoes often need to be cleaned while we're traveling. Rather than bringing shoe cleaner, we use makeup-remover pads, which I pack anyway. They do a great job of sprucing up our shoes! Alberta Wallis, Augusta, Ga.

7. Free to roam? When I got my cell phone bill after a cruise last fall, I noticed that I had $28 in roaming charges for making calls on my phone from the ship. Three weeks later, I went on a cruise with a different company and used the same phone. This time, I didn't have to pay any roaming fees. From now on, I'll always check with my cell phone provider to see if it charges any roaming fees for using my phone on board. Diane Bowman, Huntington Beach, Calif.

8. Valuable advice The battery chamber of a good dive light (I like Mini-C) is the perfect place to keep your valuables dry while you're snorkeling or scuba diving. When you take out the batteries, there's just enough room for a credit card, a room key, and a few bills. Anything you store in the compartment will stay dry as far as 300 feet down. P.J. Glanville, Sarasota, Fla.

9. Shed your baggage If you go on a Holland America cruise, see if the ship offers Signature Express Baggage Service. For $15 per person, the company prints your boarding passes the day before disembarkation and transports your luggage directly to your airline the morning of your flight. No worries about baggage check--just go directly to your gate. Jeanette Parker, Lafayette, La.

10. Save your energy Here's a simple way to make sure the batteries in your travel alarm clock always have power: Take the batteries out, place a Band-Aid down the length of each so its two terminals are covered, and put the batteries back in the alarm clock. When you're ready to use the clock, peel off the Band-Aids to expose the terminals. Dawn Yonally, Tahlequah, Okla.

11. Look Ma, no hands! When you travel with infants, you have to stop and feed them from bottles several times a day. That's not always easy when you're also trying to catch a train or keep up with a tour. We discovered that Podee Baby Bottles, which are designed so you don't have to hold them for the baby, allow us to give our girls their bottles while we push them in the stroller. Melissa Bowlen-Macomber, Edgewood, Md.

12. Secret weapon When I nicked myself shaving my legs, I realized that I hadn't brought a styptic pencil with me. I tried putting a little bit of antiperspirant on the cut instead, and sure enough, the bleeding immediately stopped. Jill Huntley, Columbus, Ohio

13. Out with the old If you keep a toiletries bag packed and ready, check the freshness of the items before you leave. While on a recent trip, my deodorant wouldn't roll on because I hadn't used it in months, and the toothpaste had a strange consistency. Robyn Zeiger, Silver Spring, Md.

14. Border bucks Americans who enter Turkey by bus or train need $20 in U.S. currency to pay for a visa at the border. I wasn't aware of this and had to borrow money from someone. Kristin Cruikshank, Columbus, Ohio

15. Find your way by PDA If you have a PDA or a Web-enabled phone, you can access subway and bus directions for Boston, Chicago, Long Island, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., among other places. Go to hopstop.com/pda, choose your location, and enter an intersection or address. The service will tell you the best way to get there using public transportation. Lisa Levine, Hollywood, Calif.

16. Surf for savings Before I go on trips to ski destinations or theme parks, I always check Craigslist and eBay to see if I can find discounted tickets and coupons. I've located some great deals on these sites. Just make sure the tickets or coupons are transferable. Perry Babel, Lakewood, Colo.

17. Wrap star When I travel, I try to look for wrapping paper in regional designs. While in Australia, I found paper with koalas and kangaroos. In Hawaii, I got paper decorated with surfers and hula dancers. And in Wales, I bought paper printed with Welsh love spoons and the Welsh dragon. Gifts for folks back home mean even more when they're wrapped in paper that you can't buy just anywhere. Betsy Rogers, Puyallup, Wash.

18. Middle management When I'm assigned a middle seat on a flight, I always ask the gate agent if I can wait before boarding the plane to see if another passenger doesn't show up in time. Inevitably, a business traveler misses his flight, and I can take his aisle seat. Most gate agents will let me switch before they issue seats to standbys. David Bykowski, Broken Arrow, Okla.

19. Take back the nightclub We were aboard the Golden Princess on a Caribbean cruise and found that the library had limited hours and few chairs. But the ship's nightclub was blessedly empty and quiet during the day. It had comfortable couches, plentiful natural light, and vast ocean views--perfect for reading or an intimate conversation. Stephen Part, Albuquerque, N.M.

20. Doggone easy To make it simpler to pass through airport security with my two dachshunds, I've outfitted them with easy-on, easy-off collars. The plastic clasps open with a pinch, so I can quickly toss the collars (with their metal ID tags) into the bin that goes through the X-ray machine, and then I carry the dogs through the body scanner. This is a great time-saver when the dogs are squirming around in my arms. Jane Jesse, Charleston, W.Va.

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