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I just returned from a 11-day business trip that included 4 cities, 10 flights, multiple rental cars and many long waits at airports that gave me time to reflect on some of the travel tips I wish I’d learned a lot earlier than I did, such as:

How to find the gas tank on the rental car. For most of my car-renting life I’d just guess as I drove up to gas station—and usually, I’d guess wrong. I didn’t know that the little gas pump icon on the fuel gauge tells you which side the tank is on. Either there’s a little arrow pointing the way, or it’s on the same side as the hose on the icon.

Don’t leave for the airport hungry. In the unlikely event you’ll have time to eat—the worst delays always happen when you’re already starving—you’ll wind up paying a small fortune for something nasty. Becoming a mom taught me the importance of many things, including the need to have a good meal before you travel and to carry lots of healthy snacks.

It pays to be loyal. Until I read Joel Widzer’s “The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel,” I usually went for the cheapest flight, hotel and car rental. Widzer showed me the value in concentrating my travel with one airline (and its partners), one or two hotel chains and one or two car rental outfits. I still pay competitive rates, but now I get lots of extra perks like early boarding, easier upgrades, free breakfasts and free hotel nights. A recent score: I booked a compact car at Enterprise, and wound up in a G-35. Sweet.

I’ll parcel out a few more of my “d’oh!” moments in coming days, but if you’ve got a travel hack you wish you’d learned earlier, add it in the comments.

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When investing in a major cruise or travel excursion consider travel insurance, especially travel policies with medical coverage to evacuate you should you become critically ill. If you’re in a foreign country with subpar medical facilities you may be at great risk if you are seriously injured or become ill.


I recently discovered you can book online through Expedia, Hotwire, et al. through a cashback web site.
The next time I book a trip I’m going to do that; I’ll also get “Thank You Points” by using Expedia and more Thank You Points by using a specific credit card.
You can also book hotels and rent cars through cashback sites.


Good tip, Donna. Those savings can add up.


Frequent certain cities often, even on business? Invest in an Entertainment Book for those cities and share w/your colleagues.


Entertainment Books can be a great way to save money. If you use even a few of the coupons, you can recoup the cost of the book, which typically go on sale for half off a few months into the year.


Great tips, especially the gas tank one. Here’s mine: take your oldest undies and then thrown them out as you go along. You can also add an old t-shirt or two to sleep in that you toss. I did that during a three-week trip in Europe. You lighten your load and clean out your drawers!


Now there’s a way to clear out your drawers, Traveljunkie! Another option are the Ex-Officio undies they sell at REI. You can wash ‘em in the sink and they dry in a couple of hours. Just remember to bring a sink plug, since hostels in most parts of the world don’t have them.


Get a suitcase that you can fit in the overhead compartment and most importantly, that has 4 wheels! It makes a world of difference!


When it comes to traveling, I would check travel blogs like http://e-marginalia.com before planning my vacation. It’s important to know what’s in a certain place before going there. You could save a lot of money


Hi, Paul. I normally try to limit unpaid advertising ; ), but I like your blog.