Advice From Our Favorite Experts


Your wisdom from the field. This month: how to spark a campfire, a creative use for foreign coins, a way to pack more efficiently for a ski trip, and more.

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Spark of genius
If you're going camping and plan to build a fire, collect the lint from your dryer in a Ziploc bag to use as a starter. It weighs almost nothing, ignites right away, and saves you from having to gather kindling. Kim Senkler, Knoxville, Tenn.

A postcard for your thoughts
I love to document my travels but hate carrying my journal around everywhere—and I often forget to write in it at night. I now buy a postcard each day and jot down a few sentences on the back. At the end of the trip, I add the notes to a memories box with cards from other journeys. Ashley Forrest, Port Elgin, Ont.

Caravan connector
Next time you take a group road trip, buy little car flags from a dollar store and have everyone in the group mount them on their vehicles. You'll be able to spot each other easily. May Hum, North York, Ont.

Sole mate
The disposable shower caps in hotel bathrooms make great shoe covers. Just slip a cap over each shoe and you won't have to worry about getting everything else in your suitcase dirty. Charlene Winges, Burlingame, Calif.

Save your money
I found a fun use for change from foreign countries. Attach a piece of magnetic tape to the back of the coin, and voilà—instant fridge magnet! It makes for an inexpensive souvenir, and it always reminds me of good times. Joshua House, Pensacola, Fla.

Diaper stash
When you're traveling with a baby, pack diapers in a vacuum-seal bag and suck the air out. If you'll be moving from place to place on your trip, prepare several bags like this—you can open them one at a time, and the others will remain compact and easy to store. Rita Hutman, Lake Station, Ind.

Way to handle it
When you're at a hotel, wrap your cell phone charger cord around your suitcase handle. That way, there's no chance you'll leave your charger behind. Annelise Kelly, Portland, Ore.

Shady proposition
If you don't have a sunglasses case, store your shades in one of those tube-shaped containers that Crystal Light is sold in. The tubes are just the right size and rigid enough to protect the glasses. Plus, it's no great loss if you misplace one. Christopher Wolters, Pearland, Tex.

Show them the way
Before traveling overseas, I find a small U.S. map online and print it out to keep in my wallet. When I meet someone and the conversation inevitably turns to what part of the country I'm from, or where it is in relation to Walt Disney World or the Grand Canyon, I can just pull out my map and point. Ronald Schnur, Princeton, N.J.

Phone insurance
I'm always worried that I'll lose my cell phone when I travel, so I take a photo of the hotel's business card and use it as background wallpaper on the screen. If someone finds my phone, the hotel info is the first thing they'll see. This is especially useful in foreign countries, because the business card is in the local language. Wendy Swanson, Portland, Ore.

Market research
I like to learn about the regional food culture when I go to a new place, so I check for farmers markets in the area. The site lists info for hundreds of markets across the U.S., including the days and times they're open, as well as examples of what types of food the vendors sell. Alane Brown, Durango, Colo.

Road less traveled
If you take a cab in Las Vegas, ask the driver to use Industrial Road or Paradise Road instead of Las Vegas Boulevard. Both routes run parallel to the Strip, but they aren't nearly as crowded. David Alpern, Long Beach, Calif.

Ski-trip tip
When you're packing for a ski vacation, wrap clothing around your skis or snowboards. You'll be protecting your equipment and cutting down on the number of bags you have to pack. Kimberly Nicoletti, Dillon, Colo.

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