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sun hat suitcase vacation travelEvery Wednesday, we’ll feature one practical travel tip here, on our blog. Get our clever weekly tips and other travel resources in your inbox by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our newsletter.

Last week, we blogged about a nifty new suitcase that beats baggage fees — and gave readers a chance to win it by submitting their smartest packing tips. More than 500 people weighed in, offering a wealth of practical, travel-tested advice.

We discovered that our readers are avid proponents of doing laundry midway through their trips, rolling clothes rather than folding and using compression bags to squeeze a few extra outfits into their carry-on. (We also decided that we might not want to sit next to a few of you on the plane, based on how many times you apparently re-wear your clothes before washing!)

It was almost impossible to pick just one reader to win the CarryOn Free rolling suitcase, but in the end our favorite tip came from a reader named Bruce:

“Always bring a hat [even] if you think you won’t need one. In the hotel, place it on the nightstand and empty your keys, wallet, passport, etc. into it before bed. When you get up (or God forbid if you need to leave in a hurry due to fire, or some other emergency) you’ll already know where everything is — secure and ALL in ONE place, and so won’t have to search around to make sure you haven’t left something essential behind!”

While Bruce is our big winner, we’ve also got something cool for the rest of the travelers who played along: a special coupon code from the folks at CarryOn Free that readers can use for the next two weeks to get 10 percent off any product in the company’s store. Just enter discount code P092811 during check-out.

We couldn’t resist sharing a few other creative tips out of the hundreds we received:

“Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the [electronic] type). Store this … in your Web-based e-mail account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your Web-based e-mail account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access [to] your all important information.” — Dan Freeman

“For women who love perfume — I tear out the paper perfume samples from the fashion magazines and trim them to just the width of the folded scent sample; they last forever, [and] take up/add minimal space and weight.” — Martha Meier

“I have seen very expensive plastic padded sleeves for sale to carry bottle wines. I have been bringing wine and liquor bottles from all over the world using two pairs of socks (putting the bottle inside the socks, it gets protected by four layers), then inside a regular plastic supermarket bag, and then a T-shirt wrapped around. Then I place the bottle in the center of the suitcase. I never had a broken bottle.” — Angel

For more indispensable packing advice, check out Packing Tips from Our Readers.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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9 Responses to “Travel Tip of the Week: Why You Should Always Pack a Hat”

  1. Todd says:

    Also, a hat comes in handy when going through airport security, put everything from your pockets in it and its all in one place once you cross through.

  2. Steven says:

    uh … Todd … that’s why they make those small plastic bins. Actually, i think it’s funny that people suggest bringing a hat. Either you wear one / need one during sunny weather … or you don’t wear / need one. If you wear one … you will bring it. If you don’t wear one … it’s one more thing to pack! It’s like suggesting to bring dress socks, without asking of you will be wearing dress shoes.

  3. SeaMarmot says:

    Uh … Steven … it makes it easier to grab and go if everything — keys, cell, watch, necklace with a vile of your wife’s blood — is in the hat. I like Todd’s suggestion, and I never travel without my fedora.

  4. Dorothy says:

    How could you select Bring a hat as the best tip? Hellooooo isn’t that what a purse or fanny pack is for?

    And as far as women with perfume – leave it home! There is no need to marinate in it. Be mindful of your personal scent as it may be not only offensive to others but cause them to be ill. That’s common, or not so common, courtesy and etiquette. What ever happened to the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others?

  5. Hana says:

    A hat? Isn’t that why we have handbags… if you’re not going to actually wear it than it could be a very bulky or awkward item to pack (and I personally never wear hats) You could bring a small plastic bowl instead, and use it to eat from as well as store your wallet/keys etc. Or even put them all in your shoes that way you definitely won’t forget them!

  6. Teresa says:

    I agree with the others. Can’t believe this was the best tip submitted.
    After a false fire alarm in a hotel I learned that I should have brought my meds with me. And I would’t find them in a hat.

  7. Edgar says:

    A ball cap (used to be called seed cap) does not take up much room. Former military service people are quite comfortable wearing them.

  8. leila says:

    small items, in the evening…… put inside a plastic bag, that all should carry incase of emergency, for that is now placed along side a pair of underwear. emergency, put the underwear on grab the plastic bag and run like………. lightweight, and can put inside underwear if you really need to.

  9. ancsteve says:

    Magellans sells a bureau top thing that lays flat but has snaps at each corner. When you get set up, fasten the snaps, and you have a container about 6″x 4″ about 1/2″ in height. Wallet, passport, keys, eyeglasses – whatever – goes into it and it takes virtually no room in your luggage. I use mine every trip so I always know where everything is.

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