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This Month's Hot Deals

24 Household Items That Make Travel Easier

1 NON-LIQUID SHAMPOO FOR CARRY-ONS -- writes Kathy from Winnipeg, Canada-- In light of the liquid restrictions on flights and my desire to pack in only one carry-on, I had to get creative for my recent trip to Europe. I went to LUSH and bought a shampoo bar. They come in multiple scents and types and you can buy a little case for them as well. Just rub it on your head a couple of times and you get more lather than the average shampoo. My bar lasted a full two months, ladies!

1 SAVE THE PLASTIC LINERS FROM YOUR CEREAL BOX -- writes Evelyn in Toronto, Canada -- Cereal bags keep everything fresh. Save the large empty waxed bags that hold the contents of your cereal boxes. If they keep your cereal fresh for so long they will be great at storing any left-overs from your breakfast plate. This doesn't mean you should be packing a lunch from the breakfast buffet table but if you don't finish that muffin, take it with you. Somewhere around 3:00 PM you'll be glad you did.

1 I LOVE MY COLLAPSIBLE TRAVEL MUG -- writes Claudia in Chicago, USA -- When backpacking, one essential I never leave behind is my collapsible travel mug. Specifically, it's a 'GSI Outdoor Collapsible FairShare Mug" - a 22 ounce silicone mug with a plastic lid and costs about 15 dollars (U.S.) It's big enough for breakfast cereal, soup, stew, oatmeal, hot chocolate, coffee -- whatever needs a cup or bowl. The hard plastic lid is great for holding in the heat until your oatmeal is perfect, or can be used as a coaster for your hot coffee. The mug is big enough to use as a mixing bowl for your pouch tuna or ramen noodles. It's a snap to clean and collapses to just over an inch (including the folding handle), to tuck into your backpack. In Canada try: Mountain Equipment Coop
Save your cereal bags

1 MY HUBBY WAS VERY RIGHT ABOUT PACKING -- writes Maria from Ontario, Canada -- My husband and I were traveling together for the first time. I'm a light packer; he's not. Among all the things that I told him he'd never use during our two weeks in Italy was a Lee Valley wind up flashlight that cost less than $10. As it happened, we were without power one night and he wound up the flashlight and 'presto', we had light. This battery-less flashlight is small, inexpensive, and much to my chagrin, I now admit it's a necessary accessory. Think about it, ladies.

1 IF YOU HAVE EXTRA POSTCARDS LEFT AFTER A TRIP -- writes Laura from Singapore -- Here's an idea for you. Often we buy the 10 or 12 pack of postcards but don't end up sending all of them out. We never consider that a waste. We use them as gift inserts at Christmas or birthdays, especially if we are giving a souvenir from that country. They make really great cards.

1 TRAVELER'S MINI WASHING MACHINE -- writes Merikay in Vernon Hills, USA -- I've been a frequent traveler since age 17 and have now visited around 70 countries. Here is a tip I use to wash clothes on the road. Pack several gallon Ziploc bags, first to keep underwear and small items clean and packed neatly. Then use as a mini washing machine. Take in shower with dirty underwear, bras, etc. Add a little shampoo or soap, fill with the shower water, seal and shake, shake, shake. Set on shower floor to soak. When done showering open bag and drain. Add clean water, seal and shake, shake, shake. Hang in washroom to dry. Voila, clean clothes!

1 PACK A SET OF THANK-YOU NOTES -- writes Laura in Singapore --Be sure to keep an assortment of thank-you notes in your carry-on. A small pack doesn't take up much room and having them handy to write a personal note can be so helpful. It may be for the friend you stayed with, a great restaurant that you enjoyed, or to thank a hotel manager for the overall great service. In our electronic age, the handwritten note is one to be treasured and everyone likes being told they've done a good job. The reason for leaving it in your carry-on? Despite your best intentions you might not be able to rush out to get a card just when you need it most. Safe journeys, everybody!

1 ONE THING I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT -- writes Barbara in New York City, USA -- Here's a tip that's short and sweet. Always pack bubble wrap as well as tape in your suitcase. On the way there place the bubble wrap between garments to keep them from creasing. On the way back I use that same bubble wrap and tape to wrap the precious souvenirs I've picked up along the way. Try it. All your travel pals will think you're clever, indeed.

1 BRING YOUR BREAKFAST FROM HOME -- writes Tracy in Fredricton, Canada -- I pack instant oatmeal packages and use the in-room coffee maker to make hot water. Put the oatmeal in a coffee cup, pour and stir. Voila, instant breakfast for less than 50 cents.

1 PACK SOME SHEETS OF ALUMINUM FOIL -- writes Marilyn in Toronto, Canada -- I just found out about two uses that will come in handy especially for families on the road. 1) Doing laundry at the laundromat and you didn't pack fabric softener? Simply ball a few sheets of foil, put them in the dryer with your clothes and voila ... no static cling.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's another use --> Pick up a loaf of bread, some sliced cheese and make grilled cheese sandwiches in your hotel room by wrapping the sandwich in foil and heating it with the iron that every hotel room should have.

1 TAKE SOME TWIST TIES WHEN YOU TRAVEL -- writes Claudia in Hollywood, USA -- Twist ties take no space in your luggage but they're so handy to have when you need them. They can hold glasses together when the teeny screws fall out. Can secure luggage tags. Can keep various ipod, cell phone, computer and camera cables and cords together. Can make an inexpensive key chain and can secure a broken necklace or bracelet.

Don't pack your slippers...

The slippers that you wear in your own home should stay in your home. We wear slippers to protect our feet from 'yucky' stuff on the ground. Then why use your good pair in a hotel or hostel? Do that and you're transferring the 'yucky' stuff right back into your home. My solution is to treat yourself to a pair of one size fits all travel slippers from the dollar store. At that price you can afford to buy yourself a new pair every trip.

Hide money in your diary...

Transform a one dollar notebook with a thick cardboard cover into a great place to hide your emergency money. To begin, make this scribbler your official trip diary so that anybody looking for valuables will most probably bypass it. Now tape an emergency credit card plus $100 dollars on the inside back cover of the notebook. Once that's done, you move on to the tricky part. Camouflage your stash by stapling a fake itinerary to the cover (be sure to staple all sides). Voila, your savings are out of sight and safe. I've even left my notebook back at the hotel in one of the drawers. The housekeeper might have read my diary but she certainly didn't take it. My life just isn't interesting enough!


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