DEAR HELOISE: What are the best times to travel? My husband and I want to go to Europe, but my husband hates crowds and waiting in line.

— Eleanor T., Taos, N.M.

Eleanor, the best time of year is probably before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Summer and holidays are generally busy times of the year, with tourists booking hotels and events and longer lines to visit tourist attractions.

— Heloise

Make a list

DEAR HELOISE: My wife and I love to travel. We’ve learned a few things over the years to ensure a safe and fun vacation:

Buy travel insurance.

Photocopy all important documents. Carry a copy with you.

Alert your bank and credit card companies of your plans.

Carry a bottle of water on the plane and stay hydrated


— Bill and Emily, San Antonio

No thanks

DEAR HELOISE: I send little gifts to friends and my grandkids. Usually, I don’t get any “thank-yous.” I know I need to stop sending gifts unless people send a thank-you. I feel bad, because I was raised to acknowledge a gift with a thank-you of some kind.

— Sandy R., Woodland Hills, Calif.

Sandy, good manners are classy and polite. If your grandkids haven’t been taught to show a little appreciation with a thank-you, ask their parents why. If you don’t get a thank-you by phone call, email or notecard, stop sending things to the people who do not acknowledge your thoughtfulness.

— Heloise

Winter pet reminder

DEAR HELOISE: With the cold weather here, it’s important to remind people that their pets (cats, dogs, rabbits) need to be kept indoors. They might be animals, but they need to be sheltered from any extreme weather. Do NOT chain a dog up to a doghouse and leave it there. A pet needs attention, love and companionship to thrive.

— Maisy M., Nutley, N.J.

Cleaning artificial plants

DEAR HELOISE: Please tell me how to clean artificial plants. Mine are dusty.

— Alice G., Saginaw, Mich.

Alice, use a microfiber cloth to dust the leaves. Carefully hold the leaves and gently wipe each one. These cloths are great for dusting just about anything!

— Heloise

Send hints to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, or