20 Tips


Tips you send in. This month: a portable crib for jet-setting toddlers, a rental car warning, and a trick for keeping valuables safe in a hotel room.

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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. Clean getaway If you have an evening flight out of Orlando and you want to visit one of the theme parks during the day, make it Discovery Cove. The park has showers and basic toiletries for guests to use, so you can freshen up before your flight. Marc Smith, Austin, Tex.

2. Tipped off My wife and I went to an all-inclusive resort that advertised a "no tipping" policy. We signed up to go horseback riding and were taken to a stable off the grounds with guides who weren't affiliated with the resort. We had to borrow money from another couple so we could tip. (We were also expected to tip on a chartered bus excursion.) Now we know to always take tip money, just in case. Michael Sullivan, Fitchburg, Wis.

3. A taste of home I pack milk jugs filled with tap water when I take my dogs on road trips. Some cities have water that's chlorinated or treated in some other way and my dogs won't always drink it. Nicole Holten, Payette, Idaho

4. Get a grip Our hotel in Costa Rica had a beautiful marble shower, but it had a very slippery floor. We laid one of our towels on the shower floor and turned on the water. Once the towel was soaking wet, it made for the perfect slip-proof surface. Shelley Molnar, Warren, N.J.

5. Start at the top We all know you should inspect a rental car for damages before you leave the lot, but don't forget to check the roof—especially if you're in a surfing destination. We didn't do this when we rented a car in Costa Rica, and a previous renter had damaged the roof when strapping a surfboard to it. We had to contest the charge. Debbie Crowley, Hampton, N.H.

6. Crib notes For a trip through Europe with our toddler, my husband and I bought KidCo's PeaPod travel bed—basically a small pop-up tent with a tiny inflatable mattress. It's much more compact than a travel crib (it even fits in our backpack). Everywhere we went, our daughter had the same bed and went to sleep easily. Peggy Sue Loroz, Cheney, Wash.

7. A cheaper buzz Liquor taxes in Iceland are impossibly high, so if you want to buy alcohol while you're there, do so at the duty-free store in the airport. Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps) is $53 per liter at the state-run liquor store, but it's $17 per liter at the airport. Jen Smith, Minneapolis, Minn.

8. Erasing a stink My husband usually brings only two pairs of shoes on a trip, and he quickly develops smelly feet and shoes. He discovered that rubbing hand sanitizer on his clean feet works far better than using baby powder or other options when it comes to preventing odor from his feet, socks, and shoes. Kaia Canfield, Phoenix, Ariz.

9. Essential advice When I'm in a hotel, I keep my money, passport, cell phone, camera, and any other important items in a tote bag by the bed. In an emergency, I can just grab the tote and have everything I need. I came up with this trick when I was staying in a hotel and the fire alarm sounded in the middle of the night. Dana Seifner, Baden, Pa.

10. Parking slots Since there's no parking for less than $5 near Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, park at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. Just go into the casino and sign up to become a member of the Players Advantage Club (PAC), which is free. As long as you use your PAC card to play the slots a few times, you'll be allowed to park for free in the casino's lot. Mirvet Sidhom, Brossard, Que.

11. Scotch guard When I travel with small children, I always bring along a roll of Scotch tape. When we get to our hotel room, I cut small strips of tape and cover the electrical outlets. Karen Fitzpatrick, Palo Alto, Calif.

12. Don't get tied up I've found elastic shoelaces that convert shoes into slip-ons. Mine are Lock Laces (locklaces.com), but there are lots of brands—buy them online or at sporting goods stores. At first I just used them for airport security, but they're so great that I now wear them nearly every day. Marlon Maus, Berkeley, Calif.

13. Slumber party! When we go on a cruise with our two toddlers, we usually book a cabin with four twin beds (two lower and two upper). None of us are comfortable in the upper bunks, so we push the two lower beds together and sleep sideways. That way, the four of us fit comfortably. One parent sleeps at the bottom edge of the beds, acting as a bed rail to prevent the kids from rolling off. Jimmy Kung, Brooklyn, N.Y.

14. Sweet and rough Those little sugar packets can make a great exfoliating scrub. Mix the sugar with a dollop of lotion, and then rub it onto your hands and feet. Rinse with water, pat dry, and voilà—soft hands and feet! Florem Hill, Lake Elsinore, Calif.

15. Tell 'em about it When a hotel doesn't provide cards that give the option of reusing towels, I put out my own. I always bring preprinted notes that ask the staff to leave my towels for the next day. At first, I had the cards in just English and Spanish, but I've discovered that it helps to have them in Russian, too. Alyse Ford, San Diego, Calif.

16. Standby dining If you want to go to a premium restaurant on a cruise but haven't made a reservation, show up an hour early and ask about cancellations. This has worked for me several times. Melinda Drew, Arlington, Mass.

17. Animal refuge Some hotels put people with animals in smoking rooms. If you have a pet and you're asthmatic, or if you have an older animal or a bird (their lungs are very delicate), you may want to specify a nonsmoking room. Valerie Silensky, Mount Rainier, Md.

18. A bounce of prevention My husband and I keep our dirty clothes in a pillowcase when we travel. To keep our luggage from smelling like dirty laundry, I put a sheet of fabric softener in the pillowcase before we leave home. Priscilla Beaver, Osceola, Ind.

19. Save for the future On a trip to France, my wife and I couldn't get cash from the airport ATM. We had to charge train tickets to Paris before we could find an ATM that took our cards. To prevent this frustration in the future, I withdrew €100 at the end of our trip so we'll have starter cash next time we go to Europe. Ken Broman, Seattle, Wash.

20. Pocket protection Keep your business card in the pocket of your coat. If you leave your coat on an airplane or at a restaurant, or if someone takes it by mistake, your information will be right inside, so you'll be easy to find. Patricia S. Beagle, Williamsville, N.Y.

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