Planning to hit the road for some fun family times this fall? Travel has been severely curtailed over the past months, but as things open up now and in the future, make sure you pack these tips to help save time, money and maybe even a few frazzled nerves.
PHOTOCOPIES JUST IN CASE
Before you leave, make two photocopies of everything in your wallet, both front and back (credit card, driver's license, medical insurance card, etc.). Put one copy inside your luggage, and leave the other at home. If you should lose your wallet, you'll have all the information you need to quickly report and replace.
You can ease the pain of losing your passport while traveling abroad if you simply take an extra passport photo with you. Keep it in a safe place, along with your passport number and the date of issue. Now all you have to do is take the photo and numbers to the closest U.S. Embassy. It should take hours, not days, to get a replacement.
If you take medications, take an extra watch, and keep it set on home time. You'll never have to wonder when to take your medicine.
A pocket shoe bag hung over the back of the front seat can hold small toys, crayons and other loose items in the car.
A disappearing-ink marking pen, available at any fabric store, is great for marking maps. In a day or so, your marks will fade, and your map will be all ready for the next trip.
SAVE ON ROOM RATES
Always call the local hotel desk instead of the 800 reservation number to get the best deals. Ask about weekend rates, holiday and seasonal specials, or discounts for affiliations you might have, such as the Automobile Club of America.
If an overnight stop is on your car trip itinerary, pack a small bag with one change of clothes for each family member and basic toiletries. Instead of unpacking the whole car, everything you'll need for the night is in just one bag.
Toss the checked-off packing list you used to prepare for the trip into your suitcase. Use it to recheck when gathering everything at the end of your stay.
TEST THE WEIGHT
After packing for a trip and just before leaving the house, pick up your bag, and carry it around for a full five minutes. If you're out of breath, it's too heavy. Eliminate what you can, or pack two smaller, lighter bags instead of one heavy one.
A hair dryer can double as a travel iron. Dampen the creased garment, and spread it on a flat surface. Set the dryer on warm, and hold it in one hand while smoothing the item with the other.
Have a special ID tag for any pet that's traveling with you. Include the name and telephone number of someone who will be able to get a hold of you while you're away from home.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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