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Travel tips from Los Angeles Times readers

Readers share travel advice on packing, what and what not to take, dealing with kids, choosing seats, staying healthy and connecting with locals abroad.

February 17, 2013
(Emiliano Ponzi / For The…)

Go ahead — we dare you to read this list of travel tips and not clap your hand to your head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?" When we asked readers to contribute their best tips for travel, we were overwhelmed by the number and comsengen (a word we just coined that's short for "common sense genius") of the ideas. Do you always forget your phone charger in your hotel room? Do you wonder why, when your flight is canceled, you end up standing in long lines while others whisk off to their new flight? And how in the world do some people easily convert whatever the local currency is while you're standing there doing math in your head? Here are some of the hows and whys that can make your travel easier. So grab a cup of coffee and a couple of aspirin for the headache you'll get from smacking yourself on the head. And if you have a tip to contribute, send it to travel@latimes.com.

Packing

Develop and use a personalized travel-packing list. Keep your list up to date, handy and detailed. Store your list in your luggage or with your travel documents.

Standolyn Robertson

Los Feliz

Pack old underwear, socks, clothes, etc., and toss each pair as you go. Saves on laundry and leaves room for souvenirs as you travel.

Larry Blanton and Starr Sachs

Valencia

Be aware that some luxury hotels will send your discards back to you and bill you for the shipping, if you do not advise the front desk. Or arrange to donate serviceable items.

Mark Imber

Thousand Oaks

Or throw your old stuff in a street trash can.

Dick Barnes and Diane Bever

Long Beach

Take a small carry-on bag with needed prescriptions, eyeglasses, contact solution, etc., change of underwear, limited cosmetics and toiletries and an empty plastic water bottle that you can fill once through security. There are more delays and canceled flights than you might think.

Jo-Anne Collins

Fountain Valley

Cross-pack with your travel partner. I put a few clothing articles in my wife's carry-on and checked bag. She does the same in mine. It reduces the odds that a lost or delayed bag will disrupt your trip.

Dick Barnes and Diane Bever

Long Beach

Carry a folded-up plastic bag with zippers, handles and a luggage tag. Check it, or carry it on. Great for souvenirs.

Dick Barnes and Diane Bever

Long Beach

Put some bubble wrap or padded envelopes in the bottom of your suitcase for anything fragile. Likewise, a tube if you might get some art/posters.

Sheila Maynes

Beverly Hills

Also pack an empty day bag. My over-the-shoulder day bag is a great catchall for guidebooks, water bottle, travel umbrella, hand sanitizer, tissue, souvenirs, etc.

Dick Barnes and Diane Bever

Long Beach

Enclose your checked bag in a sweat shirt. I put the handle through the neck opening and close the drawstring around the bottom.

Shirley J. Lane

Santa Monica

Don't fill your 3-ounce carry-on liquids to the top because they'll leak. Squeeze slightly to simulate the compression during flight and cap securely. Voilà! No leaking!

Kay Brown

Laguna Hills

When traveling for business, pack each jacket/pants/dress in a plastic dry cleaners bag in the top of your suitcase. Clothes wrinkle less, are protected from moisture (suitcases can sit in the rain) and are fast to unpack. And always take an extra white T-shirt.

Kay Brown

Laguna Hills

Pack necklaces by threading them through a straw. Straws are an easy to come by at fast-food restaurants and coffeehouses.

Laura Lee Smith

Newport Beach

If undecided about checking luggage, organize liquids in a clear bag so you can retrieve the bag quickly for Transportation Security Administration inspection in case you opt to carry on the suitcase.

Bruce Bishop

Long Beach

Leave the travel books at home. They're essential but can be like having anvils in the luggage. Use an e-reader or tablet instead.

Greg and Charlotte Nelson

Mission Viejo

Fill in a blank calendar page — in pencil — with the dates and projected activities of your trip. Doing this ahead of time helps you budget your time and provides a record of what you ended up doing. I have done this for 20 years, and these easy-to-keep pages now are a great history of my travels.

Lynne Buckie Baker

Huntington Beach

You should always take

An extra passport-size photo and the contacts for the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy.

Dick Barnes and Diane Bever

Long Beach

Custom ear plugs. They're useful for blocking out those late-night parties or all-night celebrations or weekend-long weddings or the honking chaos of some places. Before my trip to India last year I looked online for an audiology center and called to find out if they made them. They did. The plugs cost about $125 and took a week or so to make. I take them everywhere I travel.

Don Mankin

Venice

Bitters. I carry 3 ounces, which is excellent if you have flatulence on a plane.

Shirley J. Lane

Santa Monica

A wallet-size money conversion chart and a wallet-card flashlight.

Shirley J. Lane

Santa Monica

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