Travel

The Frugal Traveler: Roll With The Punches On Your Next Road Trip

An unexpected change in weather had us shivering in Amman, Jordan. A quick trip to the bargain stalls of the downtown souk provided thrifty boots, socks and sweaters for two.

Packing and planning for every travel emergency is rarely possible.Misplaced gadgets, broken luggage and wardrobe malfunctions can derail even well-planned business trips, tours or family excursions.

Here's how we roll with the punches when road trips present unexpected detours and challenges.

Store Locators: Online portals and search engines can help you drive through roadblocks created by unexpected weather or events. Web sites for national chain stores typically offer store locators with regional directions. Know which chains meet your travel needs, and use a laptop or smart phone to find the closest location. With online tools, an electronic device charger — forgotten at the last hotel — can be replaced at the next office supply store you happen to pass.

Thrift Shops: When the temperature drops unexpectedly, paying full price for coats and sweaters can freeze your vacation budget. Red, White & Blue, The Salvation Army and other thrift stores will help you stay warm and on budget by providing seasonal items or special-event clothing at second-hand prices. And if you're caught without a head covering in a tourist area where modesty or cultural sensitivities require scarves, hats or headgear, look for affordable solutions at local outdoor markets.

Visitors Bureaus: Visitors Bureaus, convention centers and civic associations provide a variety of free services and assistance for travelers. Helpful information — online and on-location — includes details about low-cost entertainment, hotel promotions and free guides. The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau operates an official Web site for travelers called www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com, which includes information about lodging, restaurants and tours.

Free Wi-Fi: Need time to work between hotels and speed traps? Many shopping malls, cafes and bookstores offer free wireless Internet and affordable snacks. Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, Panera Bread and even some Dunkin' Donut stores are among the retail outlets with free Wi-Fi connections. Simon Property Group, (www.simon.com), manages hundreds of mall and shopping centers throughout the country and provides free Wi-Fi at Shops of Sunset in Coral Gables, Florida and other locations.

Navigational Aids: We navigate with a hybrid approach that includes high-tech gadgets and old-school glove compartment tools. GPS, road atlases and maps provide comfortable layers of navigational assistance. MapQuest.Com and Google also feature free online driving directions.

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