20 Tips

0904_20tipsFast track in Florida

Tips you send in. This month: A clever way to pack earrings, a free phone application for staying in touch abroad, an extra use for hotel-room coffeepots, and more.

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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. Fast track in Florida I'm a former travel-industry professional based in Orlando, and this is my best secret for getting around town without delays: Avoid the eternally congested International Drive and take Universal Boulevard instead. It runs parallel to I-Drive, but the comparisons end there. Janey Womeldorf, Orlando, Fla.

2. Talk is cheap When we traveled to Mexico, we wanted to stay in touch with family and friends back home. We found a free application on iTunes called Truphone that turns our iPhone into an Internet phone. We simply downloaded the app, bought a certain amount of time, and made calls by connecting through our resort's free Wi-Fi. We were in contact with everyone for just a few cents a minute. Wil Cuyco, Oakland, Calif.

3. D.C.'s dramatic side To save on theater, dance, and opera productions in Washington, D.C., check out the half-price tickets from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington. Seats for same-day performances are available on the company's website, culturecapital.com, from midnight to 4 p.m. You can also go to the ticket booth for show deals up to a week in advance (407 Seventh St. NW). Helen E. Disenhaus, Washington, D.C.

4. Scientific genius If you have a membership to your local science museum and it's a part of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, you can get free admission to hundreds of its affiliates throughout the country, such as L.A.'s Natural History Museum and the Chicago Children's Museum. In the past year, we've visited eight museums with our children and have saved more than $500. Linda Holt, Camden, Maine

5. Pocket pill protector When I travel, I carry a Tic Tac container in my pocket filled with a supply of any medications I might need, with a label for each on the outside. It's made of hard plastic, so the pills are protected—and I am never out of luck if my luggage goes astray. Dave Milligan, Nibley, Utah

6. Peace offering If you're planning a trip to an underdeveloped country, go to peacecorps.gov to see if the Peace Corps has a presence there. The volunteers will likely be your best source for local tips and recommendations. And if you bring them U.S. magazines or M&M's (a favorite because the candy doesn't melt quickly), you'll make friends fast! Amy Nelson, Arlington, Va.

7. Twin remedies Dramamine and Benadryl contain similar active ingredients, so I use them interchangeably. I had a mild allergic reaction while I was on a trip and took Dramamine; it worked just as well as Benadryl would have. Ira Massarsky, Wheeling, Ill.

8. Bag your bags After traveling through New Zealand, we went to Australia for three weeks. Rather than drag all of our luggage with us, we put it in a mini-storage facility a few miles from Auckland Airport. This was cheaper than leaving the bags at the airport, and since we had a long layover in New Zealand on our way back to the States, it was a great solution. Nada Wheelock, Vancouver, Wash.

9. Road-food fix I clip coupons for restaurant chains and keep them in the glove compartment. On car trips, my family and I eat most of our meals on the road, and it's easy to just pull out the coupons. Rebecca Ayala, Houston, Tex.

10. Make a match I found a great way to keep track of earrings when I travel. I find old buttons, put the earring posts through the holes, and attach the backs. I use one button per pair, so I never have to dig around to find a stray. Robin Wilfong, Fremont, Calif.

11. Suitcase Rx Bicycle tire-repair kits are handy to have with you on trips. If your bag gets torn in transit, just slap on one of the patches. The kits are only about $10 each, and the patches are designed for tires, so they're more than tough enough to hold a suitcase together. Jim Page, Waltham, Mass.

12. Artful arrangement If you arrive in a city with carry-on luggage and your hotel room won't be ready for several hours, go to a major museum. Some will let you store your bag for a nominal fee—you might not even have to buy a ticket. I did this at the British Museum in London, where it costs only $1.50 to store a carry-on. It was nice to be able to get in some sightseeing without having to lug my bag everywhere! Craig Harris, Roanoke, Va.

13. Entrée to Vienna If you fly Austrian Airlines, be sure to hold on to your boarding pass. For 10 days after the date of your flight, the ticket qualifies you for discounted admission to several cultural venues around the world, including KunstHausWien and the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the Museu de la Xocolata de Barcelona, and the Neue Galerie New York. Deb Smith, Calgary, Alberta

14. Put a lid on your lens Even if you don't wear shower caps while bathing, it's a good idea to save the disposable ones that come free in your hotel room. They're great for covering your camera during rain showers. Joseph Chan, Davis, Calif.

15. Second time's a charm When my girlfriend and I go on tours of cities, we always ask our guide where we should eat. If the guide comes back with the name of a big tourist spot, we then ask, "Where would you go?" That usually prompts the name of an off-the-beaten-path place frequented by locals. This tactic has allowed us to try barbecued goat and plantains in Curaçao, share tequila with the owner of a small restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, and have an impromptu cooking lesson with a chef in Dominica—experiences we wouldn't have had if we'd just accepted the first answer. Nyal R. Cammack, Las Cruces, N.M.

16. Hang onand onI recently returned from a wonderful three-week vacation in which we had great accommodations—except for the lack of hooks and towel bars in the bedroom and bathroom. We now know that we should always pack a stash of removable hooks when we travel. They're inexpensive, they don't take up much room in the suitcase, and best of all, you can apply and remove them without leaving marks on the wall when you check out. Then you can reuse them on your next trip. Marilyn Opp, Stillwater, Minn.

17. The deep-pocket approach When I took a transatlantic cruise with stops in five countries, I found it frustrating to dig through my pockets and bags before going through metal detectors at each port. I finally put my change, money clip, keys, and watch in a Ziploc bag. Every time I was in a security line, I just slipped the bag out of my pocket and handed it to the guard. No fuss! Dan Heath, Marinette, Wis.

18. Pattern play Before big family trips, I always buy a yard of colorful fabric—I found a print with zebras for a trip to Africa and one with lizards for Costa Rica. It makes a festive tablecloth or picnic blanket during our travels. Back home, I glue a piece to the front of our vacation album, which makes it easy to spot and brings back good memories. Janeen McAllister, St. Paul, Minn.

19. Rain it in Ever wonder what to do with a soaking wet umbrella when you're shopping or going to the theater? Slide it into one of those clear plastic bags that your newspaper is delivered in. I keep a stash of the bags in my purse for precisely this purpose. Jerilyn Zust, Lakewood, Ohio

20. The water that works My husband and I just got back from Egypt and Jordan, where we read that it's unwise to rinse toothbrushes with tap water. We boiled tap water in our hotel-room coffeepot and brushed with that. We stayed healthy the whole trip! Linda Hansell, Chapel Hill, N.C.

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