When packing, pick one basic color around which to create your "fashion palette" so you have plenty of mix-and-match outfits to choose from.
Keep extensive notes on your trips. I have traveled a great deal and have kept those notes. I filled up a notebook on my 30-day trip across Europe on a Eurail pass. Now that I am about to celebrate my 100th birthday and am writing my memoirs, I have all the juicy details of things that happened on my trips: forgetting to take a towel to swim in the Olympic pool in Munich, Germany; the reception I went to in Salzburg, Austria; the green and red figs in Dubrovnik, Croatia; the 550 steps at Santorini, Greece. I suggest everyone keep notes of their trips as I did. It has become a euphoric experience reading and reliving my trips again.
Buy a road map book of the country or city in which you're driving. We recently drove two weeks through Ireland and Northern Ireland. We tossed the GPS and did much better following road maps. We got a better sense of how long we would be driving and what highways/roads intersected.
Always pack a flat rubber water-stopper for leaky bathtub and sink drains. I've needed it even in highly rated hotels.
When traveling with a child in diapers, prepare a grab-and-go package of diapers and wipes. Put three or four wipes in a snack-size plastic bag, then put that and one diaper in a quart-size bag. Place these single packages in a carry-on or diaper bag. For a diaper change, grab one pack and go. Save the leftover wipes in their bags for the return trip. I use one of the leftover wipes to clean Baby's hands. He tends to touch the changing table a lot, and no one wants those germs on their kid. Make sure you make enough packets to last you from the time you drop your luggage to the time you pick it back up.
Take a small roll of black electrical tape. Hotel rooms have more and more electronics with lights and readouts that can light the room at night. Cut small pieces of tape to block the lights. They're easily removed, or you can leave them for the next person.
If you know you're going to want help from locals, write a short introduction and explanation of what you want help with. Then use Google Translate to put it in the local language, print it and use it when you approach people. When my wife and I visited a small town in Latvia on an ancestry quest, this enabled us to obtain the help of a sweet elderly woman who showed us things we never would have discovered on our own.
How do you make travel less stressful? Send your trips to email@example.com, including your full name and city of residence. To see previous reader tips, go to latimes.com/readertips.