I've always thought that the best travel advice applies to every trip you take. A recent column of several money-saving tips touched off a flood of recommendations from readers. Here are some of them:
* Be nice to the travel personnel you encounter. Compliments pay off, a reader from upstate New York writes: "I have received free drinks, free rides, airline coupons, room and seat upgrades, tour extensions and other assorted gifts in response to my appreciative remarks."
* Many universities all over the world rent out their student residence rooms during summer vacation periods, charging modest sums, a couple from New Hampshire writes.
* Some of the best lunch and dinner buys in America and the cheapest gasoline prices are at casinos on Indian reservations, writes a frequent traveler from Colorado. He has paid as little as $4.95 for a lunch buffet and $9.95 for dinner, and as much as 20 cents less per gallon for gas.
* Roasted chicken purchased at a supermarket or deli makes a delicious and reasonable meal on the road when combined with a salad and bread, writes a cost-conscious Californian.
* Were you aware that hospital cafeterias, which are open to the public, charge half the price of the average hotel restaurant? That tip from a Nebraska reader.
* Avoid the transaction charges of ATMs on cruise ships by going to the ship's casino and requesting that $50 or $100 in cash be issued and charged to your cabin, advises a passenger from Pennsylvania.
* A Canadian traveler suggests using Internet auction sites, such as eBay or Skyauction.com, for your travel needs. On eBay, she says, one can sometimes obtain a luxurious timeshare that will cost less than renting a hotel room.
* Don't waste money buying street maps in a strange city, says a thrifty tourist from Washington state. Simply use the street maps that appear at the front of most Yellow Pages directories found in your hotel room. (Either take notes on paper or copy the map.)
* When checking into a motel room, writes the same individual, go straight to the telephone book for the money-saving coupons that many of them carry.
* From a frequent visitor to resort hotels: If you love lazing on a beach, go to a local Wal-Mart or surf shop and buy a reasonably priced sand chair immediately on arrival at your beach resort. Sometimes renting chairs can cost up to $100 for the week. Buying the chairs has never cost her more than $25.
* Single travelers should check out the Web site called O Solo Mio (www.osolomio.com), writes a young woman from New Jersey. It clearly states that it is not a dating service.
* On a long-distance trip in Europe, writes a backpacker, consider taking an overnight train on which you book, inexpensively, a second-class "couchette" (padded sleeping ledge). You'll save the cost of a hotel room for that night and enjoy a good night's sleep too.
* When purchasing locks for your luggage, says a Palm Springs resident, shop in a hardware store rather than a travel store; you will pay half the price and may get better quality.
* From a reader in Massachusetts: When booking a hotel room in any large U.S. city, always compare the rate with the prices at hotel consolidator Quikbook.com. He has found Quikbook's rates cheaper.
* On long road trips, says a reader from Ohio, one should take insulated or Styrofoam cups, tea bags and coffee. When you fill the gas tank, visit the station's store and, using your own cups, help yourself to the hot water or ice from the beverage dispensers.
* Travelers willing to have continental breakfast in their hotel room, says a reader from Hong Kong, should remember that many hotels provide complimentary tea- and coffee-making facilities. The night before, look for a deli or bakery near the hotel and pick your favorite rolls, bread or pastries to have with that free beverage.
* "What were we thinking?" a couple from New Mexico used to wonder after returning from a trip, suitcases stuffed with T-shirts and other impulse purchases. "Now we save money (and feelings of guilt) by not purchasing souvenirs," they say. "Instead we pick up business cards, brochures and order forms for leisurely, thoughtful viewing after our return. If we still want that redwood toilet seat a couple of weeks after the trip is over, then we call to place the order."
* Whether you are traveling in the U.S. or abroad, writes a couple from California, the least expensive way to make long-distance phone calls is by prepaid phone card. Frequently, cards can be obtained on sale from Walgreen's, Rite Aid or a Sam's Club at low per-unit charges.
* The Web site of the Armed Forces Vacation Club (www.afvclub.com) enables active or retired military personnel to rent unused timeshare condos for $234 per week per unit, writes a retired major. These are mainly available in off-season periods but in popular locations.