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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

March 4, 2008 

Remember National Lampoon's "Vacation" movie? Where Clark 
Griswold and his family packed up the car and headed across 
the country? 

Well, that was me and my brood this week. 

We're on the road in the great American family tradition: 
The overstuffed car riding low to the pavement, a trash bag 
in the front seat filled with candy wrappers and empty 
coffee cups and a nerve-grinding babble of bickering from 
the children in the back seat.

We've been gone for three days, and already I've learned 
some new tips

This week's topics include:




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Here's what I've learned over the last 72 hours. OK, some of 
it I knew before, but hadn't  gotten around to sharing until 
something that happened this trip reminded me about it. 

I hope some of this is useful: 

* Tip housekeeping staff daily. It helps ensure great 
service and tends to improve your chances of getting goodies 
like extra towels and coat hangers when you need them.

* If you suffer from back problems, invest in one of those 
vibrating and heating seat covers. You don't need all the 
bells and whistles or a high-end model from Brookstone. We 
got one from Wal-Mart for about 20 bucks that works great.

* Keep your bank's phone number in your wallet so you can 
check your accounts from the road. It's easy to get your 
checking or savings balance from an ATM, but when you need a 
more detailed accounting, you've generally got to rely on 
the Internet. 

Often, that isn't available. At times like those, it's great 
to be able to punch in a number and go through your 

* If you depend on Internet access to keep you connected to 
he office or stray in touch with family, make sure you 
search out Internet cafes or WiFi hotspots before you leave. 

A hotel I stayed in recently had a major system meltdown 
while I was there that knocked out their high-speed Internet 
access. It would have been helpful to know where else I 
could take my laptop to plug in BEFORE I found myself 
without an easy way to look for them.

* Resorts make a pretty penny from renting cabanas, lounge 
chairs and the like to guests. They figure they’ve got a 
captive clientele, so  prices are often outrageous. 

If you don't want to pay it, you have two choices. One, is 
spend your beach vacation with the blowing sand at eye 
level, lying on a grainy blanket. 

The second, better, option is to scoot a few miles inland to 
a Sam's Club, K-Mart or some other discounter. My family 
picked up four folding lounge chairs for what it would have 
cost us to rent them for one day. Even if you have to give 
them away at the end of a week to catch a plane home, you 
come out way ahead.

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* Make sure you bring your address book from home. Yeah, I 
know, you've only got a handful of people you plan to send 
postcards to. That could change if you suddenly find the 
perfect postcard for Uncle Joe or Aunt Bertha. 

More importantly, you never know what other numbers you 
might need while you are away. For example, the next-door 
neighbor who can calm that nagging fear that you left the 
lawn sprinkler on. Or that business client you had a brain-
storm about on the plane. Or the number of your Internet 
provider to help you negotiate hotel firewall's to find 
Cyberspace away from home.

* Mark your territory. If you've got a beachfront hotel, do 
something to make it stand out from the others so you can 
tell which window is yours from the beach below. It’s great 
when someone with a camera on the balcony wants the 
attention of a family member down below. 

Some folks drape a distinctive towel over the railing. My 
wife ties a bandana around it. One couple we know brings a 
string of Christmas lights. Tacky, yes. But effective.

* Don't forget the chargers. I know it sounds obvious. I 
guess what I mean is, make sure you bring the right 

Between cell phones and laptops, portable DVD players and 
digital cameras, we all have a tangle of chargers lying 
around homes. And I, for one, always seem to grab at least 
one of the wrong ones. 

So, double check before you pack. Save yourself the drama of 
discovering the hole in your cell phone is too small for the 
plug on you charger on the first night of your vacation.

* Raid your junk drawer before you leave. Items like pens, 
rubber bands, transparent tape and chip clips always come in 
handy, and thinking ahead could save you the trouble of  
trying to find a Staples near your hotel.

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* Experienced travelers know to bring an emergency sewing 
kit with them. Not everyone, however, thinks to bring an 
eyeglass kit. Broken prescription glasses or sunglasses can 
put a crimp in your lounge-chair reading. All you need 
really is one of those teeny-weenie, itsy bitsy screwdrivers 
and a few itsy bitsy, teeny-weenie screws. You can slip 
those inside that sewing kit.

* Hoard loose change. I have a friend who empties his 
pockets of loose change every night and deposit's the coins 
in a big jar. Once a year, he and his wife take the jar to 
the bank and bring home a couple of hundred dollars to put 
toward that year’s vacation. 

Most of us, however, don't manage to save that much change. 
That noisy pile of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies on 
the dresser tends to get used up for the kids' lunches, 
coffee at work, parking meters, etc. 

My suggestion is, bring whatever you've got with you: except 
for the pennies. Change comes in handy on the road for 
tolls, soda machines and video arcades for offspring who 
don’t need constant oversight.

* If the vacation is on a relatively tight budget, don't 
forget to grab the grocery coupons from the kitchen. 
Manufacturers' coupons can save you enough money for another 
night of dining out if you shop right, and they don't take 
up any space in or add any weight to, your luggage. 

Make sure you weed through them before you leave, and take 
only the ones you’re likely to use. Oh, and check the 
expiration dates while you're shuffling through them.

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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