Friday, June 6, 2008

Little ways to make travel simpler, easier or cheaper

I don't know about you but to me traveling can sometimes be pretty overwhelming. From researching hotels or car rentals online, to fitting all of your clothes into a bag small enough to carry on board, to getting through airport security, wouldn't it be nice if everything was just simpler, easier or cheaper.

So I'm starting, here, to list a bunch of quick travel tips that, one way or another, I've managed to come across. And to keep it simple and easy, I'll write about just a few over several posts. Some you'll already be familiar with, I'm sure. But if you start seeing new-to-you tips, don't forget to check back here for more.

Here’s an oldie but goodie to help save for your trip. Get a large jar and, when you come home at the end of your day, deposit all your coins into it. Or, for another spin on this, take a $1 or $5 bill out of your wallet and tuck it away. After a while deposit the money into a special vacation savings account.

Frequent flyers might be getting statements in the mail. Don’t simply discard the enclosures. Very often they contain information on earning double or triple miles if you stay at a certain hotel. And who knows….that particular hotel just might fit in with some upcoming plans.

If you’ll be traveling internationally and taking expensive equipment with you, photocopy the serial number and the receipt to take with you. Or, alternately, register your equipment with U.S. Customs. That way you don’t have to argue with the Customs official as to where your equipment was purchased.

Don’t drink the water. At least that’s the rule in a lot of countries. And that goes for the ice cubes too! (I’ll never forget the pisco sour I had in Peru. I forgot to ask if the ice cubes were made with bottled water!) If you must have ice cubes, think about bringing a cheap disposable ice cube tray with you. Fill it with bottled water and freeze them in your hotel room refrigerator.

If you’ll be at a hotel for a few days and usually leave a tip for housekeeping at the end of your stay, consider tipping at the beginning of your stay. Introduce yourself and give your housekeepers their tip. Bet you won’t run out of fresh coffee and clean towels during your stay.

To save some money on food, check out the deli counter in grocery stores. In the U.S. there is usually a huge variety of fresh food, both hot and cold. Or simply grab some cheese and a loaf of fresh bread. Add a bottle of local (and inexpensive) wine if you’d like.

When buying city maps, look for laminated ones. Using a dark erasable marker, circle what you want to see during the day. Once your destinations are laid out on the map, it is easy to plan your route. Then, for the next day, erase the previous day’s markings and start again.

Stay tuned for more. These posts will be in the 'Little Ways' Tips category.

No comments: