Advice From Our Favorite Experts


Your wisdom from the field. This month: how to safeguard your baggage, a strategy for picking pick airplane seats, how to pack better, and more.

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Baggage claim
When you plan to travel by train and know you might have to store your luggage out of arm's reach, pack a piece of cord or a strap to tether your bags together. The unwieldy arrangement makes it harder for a thief to run off with your belongings. Jennifer Horne, Cottondale, Ala.

Scents of place
Fragrances help bring back some of my favorite vacation memories. When I arrive at a destination, I buy two of the exact same candles or scented oils with reed diffusers: one to use at the place we're staying and one to take home after the trip. Renee Tatterson, Annapolis, Md.

Get write on it
I always start a travel journal several weeks before leaving for vacation. I include my packing list as well as information I uncover in my research, like driving times, must-see stops, food I want to try, and gift ideas for friends and family. Creating the journal early organizes my thoughts and fuels my excitement for the trip. Colleen Mase, Williamswood, Nova Scotia

Pack mentality
Instead of having each person in your family bring a separate suitcase, why not pack based on trip segments? For example, if you're spending two nights in one place and three nights in another, prepare one bag that has the items everyone will need for the first leg, and another one that has what you'll need for the second leg. The only thing you'll have to transfer between suitcases is your toiletry kit. Ron Zucker, Johnson City, Tenn.

A head for meds
You'll move through security faster if your prescriptions have pharmacy labels on them, but if you're only traveling for a short time, it seems silly to tote a ton of bottles for just a handful of pills. To save room, put your meds in individual sandwich-size Ziploc bags and ask your pharmacist to print out a label for each. Adrienne Spruill, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Exit strategy
Seasoned fliers tend to book seats in the exit row for extra legroom. Here's a word to the wise: When a plane has two exit rows, one after the other, the seats in the first row often don't recline all the way—or at all. Find out what type of aircraft you'll be flying on and check to size up the seating specifics. Alex Chan, Bayside, N.Y.

The envelopes, please
I bring three legal-size envelopes on trips: one for receipts, one for brochures, and one for documents I'll need to shred, such as printouts of confirmations that have my loyalty program numbers on them. Ellen Raffensperger, Sicklerville, N.J.

Friendly exchange
When I travel with friends, we all enter each other's emergency information into our cell phones. We include details like full name, date of birth, and a contact back home. If anything happens, we're fully prepared to take action. Anita Woodmass, Renton, Wash.

Get schooled
Before I go on trips in the U.S., I visit the website of the local university for hotel and restaurant options. There's usually a section for visitors with a pared-down selection of spots, which helps me avoid surfing aimlessly. Monica Pileggi, Frederick, Md.

Knot a problem
I pack my necklaces in a plastic sandwich bag, drape the clasp ends over the top, and tape them to the outside of the bag. No matter how much my suitcase gets jostled around in transit, I never have to worry about a tangled mess when I arrive. Jill Katich, Waterford, Mich.

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