20 Tips

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Tips you send in. This month: a clever trick for traveling with dogs, a warning about charges on cruises, and a souvenir bargain in Maui!

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Best Tips Ever
The cleverest tips we've ever run are in The Smart Traveler's Passport, a handy book available at Amazon.com and select bookstores. Send us a tip: If yours is one that we illustrate, we'll send you a free book (and a year's subscription to the magazine).

1. Dog trick My Chihuahua, Maq, hates getting into his dog carrier, but he loves peanut butter. So I smear a little peanut butter on the back wall of the carrier, and when Maq goes halfway in to lick it, I nudge his bottom in and quickly close the door. Sandra Traub, Tamarac, Fla.

2. Scents sensibly Fragrance beads are a safe alternative to incense or scented candles when you want to cover up odors in hotel rooms or cruise-ship cabins. Just pack them in a sealed container and open the lid when you get to your room. Julie Nyhus, Eugene, Ore.

3. Suit yourself Scuba divers know how difficult putting on a wet suit can be. My wife and I figured out a solution: Place a Ziploc bag on your hand or foot before you slide it into the suit's sleeve or leg. The smooth surface of the bag helps you slip the wet suit on easily. Eugene L. Dubay, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

4. Neighborhood watch When my wife and I did a house swap, we asked for lots of photos—not just of the interior and exterior of the place, but also of the area around the house and the front and back yards. We even used Google Earth to check out the neighborhood. Russ Phillips, Ottawa, Ont.

5. Pay as you go Anytime I travel to a country that has an exit tax, I put the cash in an envelope labeled "exit money" and keep it in my carry-on bag. This saves me from having to go to an ATM at the last minute, and it ensures that I have the exact amount necessary to leave. Jason M. Evans, Washington, D.C.

6. Don't fly without wings For lumbar support on a long flight, use a pair of kids' inflatable water wings. They're only $1 per pair at Wal-Mart, and they don't take up much room in your carry-on. Colleen Rule, Wrenshall, Minn.

7. Charge car If you'll be driving in Europe, you don't have to bring a converter to charge your cell phone and camera batteries. Before you leave the States, buy an inexpensive inverter that you can plug into the rental car's power outlet. It'll convert the 12-volt DC car power into the 120-volt AC you need for charging. Jeff Keller, Bend, Ore.

8. Pass the power I've discovered that battery-powered devices can vary greatly in their need for fully charged batteries. For example, even though my camera identifies a pair of AA batteries as dead, they still have enough power for my flashlight. Then, when the flashlight gets too dim, my travel clock will run on the batteries for months. David Johnson, Kingston Springs, Tenn.

9. BT for everyone! Most people know by now that you can keep your frequent-flier account active by ordering a magazine subscription through the airline's program. If you don't need any more magazines, you might consider sending a subscription to someone in the military who's based overseas. Soldiers are always thrilled to get current reading material from home. Michelle Buchecker, Chicago, Ill.

10. DIY room service My mom and I were exhausted after a long day of sightseeing in New York City. Our hotel offered free Wi-Fi and I had my laptop with me, so instead of trekking out again for dinner, I went to menupages.com and looked up the menus of nearby restaurants. You can search the site by neighborhood and sort by the restaurants that will deliver. Jessica Bishop, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

11. Alarming situation If you want to use your cell phone as an alarm clock on vacation but don't plan to make calls, turn off the wireless capabilities. I had to pay roaming fees in Spain because my phone was accessing the net­work. Bonnie Schuenemann, Brookfield, Ill.

12. Island style When vacationing in Maui, save money on aloha shirts and dresses by shopping at Ross Dress for Less near the airport (200 E. Kamehameha Ave., Kahului, 808/877-5483). We got a shirt for $12 and a dress for $15. Marc Smith, Austin, Tex.

13. Go your own way We were going to take Royal Caribbean up on the offer to transport our family of four from Houston to the Port of Galves­ton in Texas before our cruise, but the fee it quoted us was expensive. I searched car-rental company websites and booked a car for a reasonable rate. I then found prepaid parking at the Port of Galves­ton. Even after paying for a car rental and a week of parking, we saved more than $120. Jeanette Boyd, Richland, Mo.

14. Sippy pup When you're traveling with your dog and you don't have a bowl with you, fill a quart-size Ziploc bag with water and hold it open on the ground to make the water easy to drink. Anabel Nogueiras, Miramar, Fla.

15. Lost at sea? Every time we go on a cruise, my wife blows up a red balloon and tapes it to the door of our stateroom. That way we never have any trouble finding our room in the ship's long hallways. Eli Rose, Tampa, Fla.

16. Top tip While I was on vacation in the Caribbean, the plastic hook on the back of my bandeau bikini top broke. Most of my friends throw their bathing suits away when this happens, but I didn't want to give up so quickly. Instead, I threaded a key ring through the loops to hold the top together. It turned out to be a great quick fix, and I was able to mend the top as soon as I returned home. Kaye Powell, Washington, D.C.

17. The money tree My husband and I decorate our Christmas tree with foreign currency. We select the most colorful bills from our trips abroad, date and laminate each one, punch a hole at one end, and loop a ribbon through to hang it on a branch. The notes always bring back memories while we're trimming the tree, and they're easier to pack away than regular ornaments. Joyce Vognild, East Wenatchee, Wash.

18. Stuck with a bill Be sure to ask about any extra charges before you book a service on a cruise. I decided to try acupuncture when I was on a Caribbean cruise, and I saw on my receipt that I had been charged a 15 percent gratuity. Since when do acupuncturists get tips? Gary Hines, Louisville, Ky.

19. Greatest hits When my wife and I travel overseas, we always keep our hotel television on MTV or another music station so we can listen to the local favorites. We make a list of the songs we like throughout the trip and buy them from iTunes when we get home. We use the songs as a soundtrack for our travel photos or burn them onto a CD as a reminder of our trip. Creating our own collection of music is much more personal—and cheaper—than most souvenirs. Charles Price, Edmond, Okla.

20. Valuable advice My boyfriend recently bought a GPS navigator. He doesn't like to leave it exposed while his car is parked, but he doesn't want to carry it around everywhere, either. Now he hides the navigator in the first-aid kit that he always keeps in his car. The kit is a great hiding spot, since no one would ever suspect there's anything more valuable than Band-Aids in there! Lucy Wojnicki, Schaumburg, Ill.

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