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(<137>Anna BizoÅ?<137><137><252><137>/Thinkstock)

You only get so much vacation: 15 expert travel tips to make every moment count Add to ...

1. TAKE THE LAYOVER

I know direct flights are the bee’s knees, but arranging for a layover in a cool city can add a whole new dimension to a trip. Either take a five-or-greater-hour layover and pop into town or, better yet, arrange for an overnight (up to 24 hours after initial departure). The international aviation industry is set up to make it easy to do just that, with hubs in all kinds of quickly visitable cities, including Vienna, Frankfurt, Doha, Denver, Amsterdam and Paris. Some, such as Singapore, even offer free city tours during layovers. Bert Archer

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2. AVOID A LOCKED DOOR

What are you doing Sunday? What about Monday? Ask yourself those questions before you set off, or you might be stuck with a hole in your itinerary. Many museums, shops and restaurants are closed those days – particularly in Europe and South America. Plan to travel then. If you’re already on the ground, ask your concierge to advise you on closings, then organize a trip to the beach or a park to coincide. Happily, Mother Nature never closes. Ellen Himelfarb

3. EMBRACE THE DOUBLE-DECKER

Take the double-decker tour bus. It looks cheesy, and you may be rubbing shoulders with the wrong sorts of tourists, but consider it an executive summary of the city and a way to get your bearings. The most consistently well-managed one is City Sightseeing. They’re hop-on, hop-off tours, and tend to run frequently from early morning to early evening. Take notes or pictures of the stuff to which you’d like to return. It’s also a great way to see a city for the mobility-impaired. Just watch out for counterfeiters (the brand doesn’t protect itself well). Check city-sightseeing.com, which lists all the real ones. Bert Archer

4. ALWAYS PACK THESE FIVE THINGS

1. Your alarm clock: Never trust a wake-up call. 2. A bar of soap. Unless you’re in a five-star hotel, forego the wafer-thin bar that gets stuck halfway down your back. 3. A password-protected copy of your passport, bank details, drivers license, etc., uploaded to your e-mail account. 4. A power strip so you can use just one wall socket. 5. Going overseas? Take a bag of small Canadiana knick-knacks to give to locals, such as pencils or stickers. It’s the fastest way to make friends and spread maple leaf love. Robin Esrock

5. EXPLOIT TRIPADVISOR

People use TripAdvisor to choose a restaurant or read hotel reviews, but that’s only half of what makes the site useful. Before travelling, check the discussion boards to hear what people are asking and answering about the place you’re headed. Topics range from ways to save money in a place to the best way to get from point A to point B. I recently discovered how to make my way from Bordeaux to San Sebastian, despite the fact that there is no obvious train or bus connections, through reading a TripAdvisor forum. Alexander Besant

6. LEAVE YOUR CLOSET AT HOME

A hard-learned fact: The less you lug through the airport, the better and more relaxing your trip will be. Control the urge to squeeze just one more outfit into your bag by bringing one of each thing: one great dinner dress, one pair of versatile jeans, one pair of sandals, etc. This also saves you (and your travel companion) from the dreadful “What should I wear?” debate that better belongs at home. And don’t worry about wearing the same thing twice: No one expects you to cart your closet across the ocean. Rosemary Counter

7. FIT IN A FEAST

The DIY dine-around is the ultimate fix for when your list of restaurant recommendations outpaces the number of meals you have time (and room) for during a trip. Instead of settling on one spot, pick a neighbourhood with several restaurants you want to try – ideally within walking distance of each other – and make it a roaming feast with a dish and drink at each. The idea is to sample, so order a couple of apps or small plates to share, or split a main as opposed to ordering a full meal. Three restaurants is a doable number, and allow an hour and a quarter between reservations if you’re making them. Alyssa Schwartz

8. WARM UP TO COOLERS

Coolers have proven themselves valuable far beyond the campground. At the start of every road trip, I imagine how wonderful it’ll be to quit as chief meal maker and let other cooks and baristas take over. And then after a greasy, sugary snack or three I start craving more variety. With a small, collapsible cooler handy, I can pop to the grocery store even if my hotel room doesn’t have a mini-fridge. They’re also the ideal place to store edible souvenirs – those just-picked blueberries or farm-fresh cheese that help you bring the holiday home. Karan Smith

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