On-the-Road Travel Tips (part 4)

By Randy Keck
This item appears on page 30 of the July 2020 issue.
The alluring Frederiksborg Palace outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, back when free-range exploration was in flower, sans social distancing. Photo by Randy Keck

Even in this period of pandemic and travel restrictions, I’m happy to keep sharing travelers’ contributions (with my own comments added, where appropriate) in this series on On-the-Road Travel Tips. So please continue to send in wise, creative or unusual tips on anything that makes your travel experience work better for you while actually traveling. (Write no more than 125 words per submission; see the end of this column for where to write to.)


Mel Rabinowitz (New York, NY) — Here’s a little travel tip for two or more people who will be flying together. 

First of all, as everyone knows, you should pack some spare clothes in your carry-on bag. That’s a given. But here’s what my wife and I do in addition to that. After we’re finished packing, we each take out about a third of our clothes and put them in each other’s bags. This way, if one of our checked bags temporarily goes missing, we have at least one-third of our stuff to use until the wayward bag turns up. 

Naturally, the first time we tried this on a trip to Thailand back in the ’90s, BOTH of our bags went missing. 

Well, Mel, this no-brainer may be just too much common sense for many travelers until they experience a missing bag. I always intend to do this when my wife and I travel, but it never seems to actually happen. What many people do is make sure they each have some necessary, essential clothes in their carry-on bag. I am quite sure your wise advisory will be remembered vividly the moment it becomes evident that a checked bag has gone missing. — RK


Jim Hinkle (Alameda, CA) — To minimize the chances of having your checked bag lost during air travel, take a moment to learn the 3-letter airport code for your destination, and insure that the bag has the correct one attached to it by the agent before it disappears behind the check-in counter. 

Then you know your bag will at least end up at the correct airport. While it may be delayed, it shouldn’t be too far behind, as opposed to its going to the entirely wrong airport and playing catch-up with you. Having to vacation with just the clothes on your back takes a lot of the joy out of travel. 

One time, a busy agent mistakenly tagged my bag only to my connecting-flight destination. Fortunately, I caught it because I was paying attention. This airport-code-checking habit has been brain-imprinted ever since. It’s simple due diligence for all travelers. — RK


Miyako Storch (Santa Barbara, CA) — My husband and I always like a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, so when we travel, we pack an immersible water heater (120V) plus coffee, sugar and cream.

• Years ago, we bought a braided rubber washing line from a travel-supply store. At that time, there were no hooks on the ends, just loops, so we got short bungee cords so we could hang the line just about anywhere. No clothespins needed! And the line is very small when packed away.

• The last item I always carry is Velcro® (hook-and-loop fastener) tape. I have it in various lengths, and some is even double-sided in Velcro®. It’s so useful, you can’t imagine!

Regarding electric devices for travel, most are now set up for dual currency: 120 and 220 volts. An inexpensive Lewis N. Clark brand water heater (dual voltage), with a European adapter and travel pouch, is currently available on Amazon for under $10. — RK


Ruta Vitands (Three Rivers, MI) — For dressing up a little on evenings out, one may want to wear the same dress/pants/blouse more than once. I pack a small plastic spray bottle. Before going to bed, I fill it with tap water, spray the wrinkled worn garment, give it a good shake and hang it somewhere. In the morning, it looks like new. I am a slave to cottons and linens, so this comes in very handy for me. 

Thanks for this practical suggestion, Ruta. I’m sure other readers will try it. — RK


Rosy & Jordan Jacobsen (Longmont, CO) — We speak passable Italian, but while we were waiting for a train in Italy in September 2015, we didn’t follow all of the many PA announcements. 

A few minutes before our train was due at our scheduled platform, we noticed the people around us leaving. Our curiosity aroused, we followed them and only then discovered that the platform number had changed. 

With only a few minutes to get to the new platform, and with trains usually spending only one minute at the station before departing, we were glad we happened to notice. Our advice — pay attention to the locals!

Thanks for this helpful “awareness” tip. Keeping an eye on the locals is always a good idea, especially when it comes to public transport. — RK


Colin Gabriel (San Marcos, CA) — My wife and I were on foot in central Tokyo in September 2019 looking for a somewhat obscure basement restaurant. Google Maps failed after taking us several blocks out of our way in 90-degree heat. Apple Maps got it right. Google Maps also took us on a circuitous walking route to the very popular digital museum in Tokyo. I’d vote for Apple Maps. 

Readers, if you have compared Google Maps and Apple Maps, let us know your experiences and if your recommendation concurs or differs with Colin’s. — RK


Neil Thomas (Big Island, HI) — Tell your trip story with Google Photos. 

I like my trip technology to be cheap (free is preferred), easy to use, time-efficient and effective. For sharing our trips’ stories, Google Photos meets all four tests. I became a regular user with an album created in 2018 during the first days of an Australia tour. 

You can upload any number of photos for free to Google Photos. It’s efficient to upload a bunch of photos, create an album, rearrange the photos in the order of the story you want to tell, and add text boxes. The learning curve to make narrated albums from your photos is fairly short.

I can effectively reach a large audience. The completed album yields a link you can post to social media; I email the link to my friends-and-family list. I’m happy to coach if you get stuck; email nthomas1521@gmail.com

Thanks for this helpful advisory, Neil, and for your willingness to coach other readers. — RK

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