Inspect your passport carefully – International travel tip

Before you start planning your next dream vacation, make sure your passport is up to snuff. Check the expiration date carefully. Many countries do not allow you to visit with a passport that expires within six months of your trip.

For example, Brazil requires your passport to be valid for six months after your tip. For Switzerland, it’s three months.

Plus each country has its own rules for whether they calculate that expiration date from the day you enter the country or from the day you leave, so double check with the local embassy or consulate for the current requirements.

[Photo: Flickr | hjl]

Try the ‘traveler’s washing machine’ – Packing tip

Here’s how to make a “traveler’s washing machine” —

  1. Pack a large, thick plastic bag and a small bottle of laundry soap.
  2. When it’s time for laundry, fill the bag with about a gallon of water and add a scoop of detergent.
  3. A few sloshes of the bag renders the water soapy.
  4. Drop in the clothes, and shake the bag some more.
  5. Leave the clothes to soak for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Dump the water out and fill with fresh water to rinse.
  7. Shake.
  8. Dump out this water and squeeze any excess water from the clothes.
  9. Hang the clothes on anything convenient to dry.

This saves a trip to the laundromat — and money.

[Photo: Flickr | Alexik]

Use an expandable file to plan your trip – Road trip tip

In preparation for a recent trip, we compiled 10 day’s worth of information on accommodations and attractions, maps, directions, and other paperwork.

I purchased a plastic, expandable folder with 10 slots, then labeled each with one day/date of the trip. Into each day’s section went everything we needed: maps, directions, confirmation numbers, hours and costs of museums and attractions, etc.

If we ran into a delay or found ourselves a day ahead of schedule, it was easy to move the pile to a new slot.

Bonus: Receipts and souvenirs readily replace used maps and directions, ready to remember a great trip!

[Photo: Flickr | BLW Photography]

Map and highlighter are essential – Packing tip

Wherever, however, you go traveling, there are two easy essentials you must pack:

The first is a map of the destination(s) you will be visiting. It’s easy to feel disoriented on solo trips — or even a guided tour!

The second essential item is a highlighter. A map that you can mark with a highlighter allows you to see exactly where in the world you are. Just mark the major cities or towns you’ll be visiting beforehand, and then connect the dots as you travel the local roads.

This is especially helpful in Europe where countries are only the size of American states and distances traveled are much less than you might imagine.

[Photo: Flickr | Adam NFK Smith]

Good hotel coffee starts with ice – Hotel tip

If you like to wake up to a good cup of coffee, you know the appeal of having a coffee maker in your hotel room. But if you love coffee, then you also know hotel coffee can taste pretty mediocre, especially when made with tap water.

To make a better coffee, take advantage of the hotel’s ice machines — they use filtered water. Simply fill your coffee maker with ice the night before, and let it melt. You’ll enjoy the difference the free filtered water makes to your morning cup – and to your tastebuds.

Read more about coffee makers:
* Sterilize baby bottles using the hotel room coffee machine
* Cook with the coffee pot

[Photo: Flickr | stevendepolo]