On-the-Road Travel Tips (part 1)

By Randy Keck
This item appears on page 51 of the April 2020 issue.

In my January 2020 column, I invited readers to send me their favorite On-the-Road Travel Tips, applying to anything that makes your travel experience work better for you while actually traveling.

The response has been excellent, and the first selection of tips is presented below (with my own comments added where appropriate). Hopefully, you will find some of the offerings in this series to be applicable to your own travels.

Karen Gifford (Raleigh, NC) — After arriving in your room and laying your suitcase on a luggage rack, leave the pull handle extended to use as a clothesline for drying clothes.

Mary Bright (Cleveland, OH) — Can’t find anything in your hotel room to which you can attach a clothesline? Use the raised handle of a suitcase or two with something heavy inside so it doesn’t tip.

Instead of using bulky clothespins, hang light items with metal hair clips (the hollow triangular kind that snap back and forth).

Thanks, Karen and Mary. In my travels, I often have to get creative with in-room clothesline hanging. If nothing else, a liter bottle of water or, better, two bottles (about 2.2 lbs. each) can help out as a suitcase weight. A large baggie (double it to prevent leaks) also can be filled with sand, soil or pebbles, depending on what’s available, and used as a suitcase weight. Simply empty and rinse out the baggie before departing.

Additionally, if I have the choice of a room with a balcony above the ground floor, I will always try to rig up a line outside, where clothes typically dry much, much faster, especially when there is a little breeze. — RK

Meg Coulter (Los Angeles, CA) — Take a roll of toilet paper, pull out one arm’s length and tear it off, continuing until the roll is used up. Roll each torn-off section into the size of a cigarette. The entire original roll can then be stuffed into one sandwich baggie.

Each day, put four of the “cigarettes” into a separate baggie, slip it into a pocket (I put mine in my bra) and you have handy TP whenever you need it.

I’ve done a lot of “third-world” traveling, and this has saved me many a time. It even helped at the opera at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, where the WC attendant gave ONE SQUARE of TP per person if you tipped her and no more. Ever!

Meg, this is a fantastic idea, which I and undoubtedly other readers will employ. — RK

Rick Vogel (Tucson, AZ) — One thing I pack in my luggage everywhere I go now is what I call my Survival Kit. It’s a toiletry kit you can purchase at the Container Store for $9.99 in black or green. It measures 8¾"x2¾"x4" and has two long, zipped pockets.

Within this case I put the following essential items: Shout Wipes (always great for removing food blotches, etc., from your clothes), Tide sticks (Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Liquid Pens), measuring tape, pens, carabiners (one of the greatest little tools for clipping something to something else), suction-cup hooks, sticky-note pads, a roll of adhesive tape, some small-diameter rope, a pack of Wet Ones antibacterial hand wipes, a small 4-pack of superglue, a small roll of duct tape (amazing how many things this can fix and how few people actually carry it), three or four AA and AAA batteries, replacement zipper pulls (Eagle Creek brand, purchased at the Container Store), drain stoppers/plugs and a small box of wooden matches (airlines don’t always like this, but I’ve never had them confiscated).

• I do not include a first aid kit in the survival pouch but carry one separately. The size of the kit depends on the length of the trip. I’ve found the best-value first aid kits to be at AAA (American Automobile Association) stores, which also have other great travel items. (If you do not have an AAA membership, chances are you have a friend who does.)

• While today’s smartphones have flashlight apps, having a light in a hands-free situation — i.e., a headlamp — is SO much better. Traveling in so many countries as my wife and I have where electricity is a luxury more often than a given, having a headlamp and free hands to search for things in closets, brush your teeth, comb hair or find your way out of a strange room or building is much better than having to hold a flashlight in one hand and make do.

Many great survival kit travel tips, Rick! I always carry a mini-roll of duct tape. And I adjust my travel survival kit to be trip specific. When I go to Australia, I need much less than when traveling to a third-world country, where many sundries and basic items are usually in short supply. — RK

Kaye Caster (Colorado Springs, CO) — Bloodclotting spray quickly stops bleeding of wounds. Contains agents that prevent infection. (Amazon.com, $11.)

BleedCEASE — five sterile packs to stop nosebleeds (Amazon, $11).

Liquid bandage instantly seals minor injuries.

Eyeglasses-repair kit (dollar store, $1).

Thanks for the great first-aid tips, Kaye. I always carry the liquid-bandage product New-Skin when I travel. (Before sealing cuts, it’s important to make sure the area to be sealed is thoroughly disinfected.) — RK

Esther Perica — I’m at an age where I don’t need (or want) to buy anything when I travel but still enjoy walking around, visiting markets and stores and talking with local people.

My solution has been to take things that need to be repaired with me to countries in Asia and Latin America. I’ve had tailoring done in Indonesia, silver jewelry repaired/reworked in Mexico and pearls restrung in Japan. My best experience was having my father’s pocket watch repaired in India for 500 rupees (about $10 then) after my local jeweler said it would never work again!

I have the fun of walking around, visiting markets and talking to people, then coming home with items that are again useful to me.

Ester, that’s a fantastic idea, one that invites pre-trip research regarding the best places for on-the-spot repairs for items you want repaired! — RK

Based on the excellent reader response, we will continue to print subscribers’ travel tips for at least a couple more months.

Incidentally, the invitation to submit On-the-Road Travel Tips remains open, so please send along your best, most creative ideas to share with your fellow ITN readers. Keep in mind the 125-word limit per submission, and include your mailing address. See my email or address below.

Contact Randy at 80 America Way, Jamestown, RI 02835; 401/560-0350, randykeck@yahoo.com.