February 27 2013 by Sam Lowe
Now that the years are coming and going at a remarkably rapid pace, I look for items that will give me more time to enjoy my travels by eliminating those little annoyances so common to being on the road.
Here are a few time-savers and frustration-eliminators that have worked for me:
- If going to a foreign country, pack some washcloths. Many hotels located across the briny and south of the border don't provide them and trying to get clean by scrubbing with toilet paper or bathroom tissue isn't very satisfying. (Extra tip: If possible, stay at a Best Western hotel. They're located all over the world and are always well-stocked with such necessities.)
- If planning a vacation on the beach, buy some ecofriendly suntan lotion beforehand. Many seaside resorts and excursion companies either suggest or demand that your sunscreen be of a non-polluting brand that don't contain dangerous chemicals that might harm water, sea life and beachcombers.
- Before cranking up the faithful old jalopy and taking off on a road trip, use the Internet to find out where the best gas-up places are located along your route. There are several web sites that provide that type of information, including GasBuddy.com and CostToDrive.com.
- Tired of forgetting something at the airport security scanner belt? Try this: Use more than one bin. Put cameras, laptops, keys, loose change, belts and purses in the first ones, then always put your shoes in the last one. You might forget your camera in a bin, but you're not going to walk away from the area without your shoes.
- When going to a city that implements parking meters, take along a pocketful or a sackful of change, mostly quarters. This will save you time in the long run because you will soon discover that banks and stores are reluctant to change your dollar bills into coins, particularly if you're not buying souvenirs or taking out a loan. Coin machines in local laundromats are a good option for the coinless, but they're sometimes hard to find. This situation may soon be a thing of the past, however, as more cities install meters that accept credit or debit cards.
- Finally, a cure for roadmap-rage. Some high-tech companies like Rand McNally are making microfiber city maps that claim they're tearproof, waterproof and scrunchproof. This means you don't have to worry about them ripping along the fold lines. Even more important, you never have to fold them the right way. Just smoosh them up and shove them in your pocket once you figure out where you're going. Or want to go. Or where to go to ask directions.