20 Tips

0905_20tips_bikingStay dry on your bike

Tips you send in. This month: A creative use for hotel shower caps, a tip for organizing photos, how to monitor hotel rates, and more.

What's your best travel tip? Send us your tips, and if we publish one, you'll get a one-year subscription (or a renewal) to Budget Travel. You can e-mail them to us at Tips@BudgetTravel.com.

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. Avoid laundry mishaps When we travel by RV, I always pack four refrigerator magnets, which I put on my washers and dryers when I go to a laundromat. I never have to guess which machines are mine—and best of all, I never forget a load. Marilyn Denham, Surprise, Ariz.

2. Vacation education Anytime I plan a trip, I subscribe to blog feeds and news from the area I'm visiting. It helps me catch up on the culture and gets me even more excited about what's to come! Megan Stokes, Boston, Mass.

3. Go back to school Before you travel to a big city or a college town, check out the local university calendars. Most schools schedule events well in advance and list them on their websites. I've attended wonderful concerts, film screenings, festivals, talks, and exhibits this way—most of them open to the public and at a very low cost, or even free. Edie Greenough, San Francisco, Calif.

4. Save your souvenirs I always buy a composition book to use as a travel journal, and every few pages I'll attach an envelope where I can stash tickets, receipts, and any other mementos I want to keep. Kelly Hess, Sacramento, Calif.

5. Daylight saving dates It helps to remember that some countries begin and end daylight saving time on different dates than the U.S. does—and others, like Thailand, don't change their clocks at all. I once missed a symphony orchestra performance in Cologne when I forgot that most of Western Europe begins daylight saving time after we do. Greg Becker, Goose Creek, S.C.

6. Early-bird breakfast When you're on a cruise and you've booked an excursion that leaves early in the morning, order room service for breakfast. That way, you won't have to wait in line at the buffet and risk missing your tour departure. Mirvet Sidhom, Quebec, Que.

7. Hotel-rate watch Once you book a room at a hotel, check its website weekly for changes in room prices. I recently saved $600 on four nights in a room in New York City by making a new reservation at the reduced rate and then canceling the first one. Just be sure to note the hotel's fine print. Janet Willis, Ormond Beach, Fla.

8. Archive articles I save all my favorite travel stories as electronic files. Anytime I find good information about a place—a great piece online, e-mails from travel websites, etc.—I copy it and paste it into a Word document. I have separate folders for each destination, so when I'm ready to start planning my trip, it's easy to refer back to the info. Kristi Magee, Landstuhl, Germany

9. Free information Google has a service that anyone can call for information (800/466-4411). You just give the name of the business you're looking for in the U.S. or Canada, and the automated operator provides the address and phone number and can even connect you directly. The service is great when you're on the road and need to find information about a restaurant or a hotel. Rose Jakubaszek, Jersey City, N.J.

10. Write home Every time I visit a new place with my kids, I let them each choose a postcard as a souvenir. They write down what their favorite part of the trip was on the back, and then we send the cards home. It's fun to get them in the mail when we return, and the cards serve as great memories of our trips. Tricia Parkey, Gilbert, Ariz.

11. Organize your pics After my computer crashed, I learned my lesson and started saving photos from each trip on a flash drive with a hole for attaching a key ring. When I travel, I buy a souvenir key chain to hook to the drive. Since the key chain usually has the name of the place or an instantly recognizable graphic, I can always tell right away which flash drive contains which photos. Amy Pfenning, Coalinga, Calif.

12. Get a bonus performance Instead of buying tickets to go on a tour of a theater, look into seeing a performance itself. That can actually be cheaper, and you get the benefit of seeing a show. For example, a tour of the Globe Theatre in London is $15.25, but tickets to a play are as low as $7.25. Gloria Hasler, Palmdale, Calif.

13. Mark your memory cards Be sure to write your name on your camera's memory card before using a photo-downloading machine. Cards are left behind every day, so if you forget to remove yours and it's unmarked, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get it back. Marlene Popkins, Kearneysville, W.Va.

14. Check one-way prices When you make plane reservations, compare the price of a round-trip ticket with 2 one-ways. Sometimes you'll find that buying a ticket each way costs less, and you might even score better flight times. Rene Couture, Fort Collins, Colo.

15. Make some music I hate being in the middle of nowhere without any radio reception, so I put more than 100 songs onto a CD. (To fit this many, you have to load them in MP3 format from your computer.) Not all new rental cars have iPod hookups, but many have CD/MP3 players, so I'm still able to listen to my tunes. Jeff Klein, Seattle, Wash.

16. Boost your memory Most hotel-room key cards don't have the room number on them, and more than once, I've had to ask the front desk to remind me of mine. Now I have a contact on my cell phone named "room." When I check in, I plug my room number into the contact information so I can find it anytime. Bob Mathews, Buda, Tex.

17. Seat-back bag Whenever I fly, I pack my crossword puzzle book, a pencil, gum, and a few magazines in a small, durable plastic bag like the kind you get at bookstores. The bag is easy to lift out of my carry-on, and it fits right into the airplane seat pocket. I have everything at my fingertips, and nothing ever disappears into the depths of the pocket. JoAnne Mills, Little Rock, Ark.

18. Mini medicine cabinet Those little egg-shaped containers that hold trinkets in gumball machines make wonderful pillboxes. They hold around 12 small pills, are easy to open, and are usually clear, so you can see how many pills are left. Ilia Perez, Miami, Fla.

19. Frosty-windshield fix Many rental cars don't come with a window scraper, which means you could get stuck with an icy windshield. I've found that in a pinch, a credit card can do an amazing job. (Just be careful not to break it!) Bob Dillhoff, Elida, Ohio

20. Stay dry on your bike A hotel shower cap fits perfectly over a bike helmet, so I keep a few in my bicycle-seat pack. When it rains, I whip out a shower cap, stretch it over my helmet, and voilà! My helmet, hair, and head stay marvelously dry. Kevin Purdy, Boulder, Colo.

Related Content