DEAR HELOISE: I’m what most people would call a “road warrior” because I travel so much with my job. I’ve learned ways to make traveling easier and lighter.

I always pack my earrings in a plastic pill container with the days of the week marked on top of each opening.

I put shoes in plastic shower caps to keep them from soiling my clothes. I also never take brand-new shoes that haven’t been broken in yet.

All medication, makeup and important papers, such as a passport, are in a carry-on bag, and dirty laundry is stored in plastic grocery bags in my suitcase.

I use a luggage strap around my bags but never lock them just in case airport security needs to open my suitcase.

You also can put a key ring through the holes on the zipper pulls, connecting them together. This takes longer to open a suitcase, but it discourages thieves.

I never take real jewelry with me, only costume jewelry, and even then, only a little. Valuable jewelry makes you an easy target for robbery.

Have a basic outfit you can dress up or down, according to the occasion. This is why so many women like a plain black dress.

— Helen H., Dallas

Passport

DEAR HELOISE: Please let your readers know that they should never let their passport expire. If they need to go overseas for whatever reason, they’ll be glad they have a current passport. When my purse was stolen, I used a passport as my ID because the thieves had my driver’s license.

When your passport has six months before it expires, apply for a new one. Some countries won’t let you in if you have six months or less until the expiration date.

— Karen D., Fairfax, Va.

Home safety

DEAR HELOISE: Most people know enough to protect their home while they are on vacation by having someone park their car in the driveway, turning off an automatic garage door opener and having someone pick up their mail and feed their pets.

However, how many people have lights on a timer that turn their lights on before they get home during these dark winter nights? My neighbor came home two weeks ago to find her apartment had been ransacked. Her apartment was dark. Mine, which is next to hers, was well lit. I was caught in traffic and wasn’t home, but the police said that was why my apartment wasn’t broken into.

— Joyce A., Miami

Crochet hooks

DEAR HELOISE: I kept losing my crochet hooks until my granddaughter suggested that I keep them in an eye-glass case. Now they never get lost.

— Janet S., Proctor, Vt.

Tissue storage

DEAR HELOISE: I had a nasty cold and used up facial tissues like crazy. Instead of tossing out the empty boxes, I kept them to stuff used tissues inside. It was a handy and sanitary method to dispose of those tissues.

— Elizabeth T., Columbia, S.C.

Heloise central

DEAR READERS: My website has more information and stories. Just go to www.Heloise.com to check it out.

Hints from Heloise sig

Send hints to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001 or email Heloise@Heloise.com.