I am embarrassed to admit how many personal items I’ve left behind in hotel rooms over the years. I’m talking about phone chargers, flash drives, hair products, power toothbrushes—and even clothes left hanging in the closet. What’s wrong with me? I left my must-have travel pillow—not once, but twice.

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My recovery rate is lousy, too. I got my pillow back the first time, but then managed a repeat and alas, it was never to be seen again.

Several months ago I put today’s first tip into action on my travels. This simple routine has made all the difference for me. It keeps all of my things organized and easily accounted for. And I’m happy to report, I’ve now arrived home with all of my possessions intact for six trips in a row—a new personal best.

HOTEL TRAVEL TIP. Make this the first thing you do when you walk in your room: Take a hand towel from the bathroom and spread it out on the desk or other counter top in the room. This becomes the de facto place for all of your things that you have a place for at home. Put your room key on the towel, your car keys, sunglasses, rechargers, wallet—everything. Now everything is visible and in one spot, rather than scattered about the room. As you come and go, return these items to their place on the towel. When you’re ready to check out, no searching, nothing left behind.

While we’re talking about handy, dandy household tips, here are more of my favorites:

GINGER SECRET. If you enjoy using fresh ginger in your home cooking, here’s a fabulous trick to make sure it’s always fresh and handy. Peel a few large pieces of ginger, breaking them into 1-inch knobs. Place the pieces into a zip-top plastic bag and store this in the freezer. When you want fresh ginger, grab a peeled knob and grate the amount you need—still frozen—using a microplane grater, directly into the dish.

DUST REPELLANT. Here’s a clever way to clean hard surfaces (glass tables, shower doors, counters) and at the same time apply a dust repellant so they stay cleaner longer. Add 1 part liquid softener to 4 parts water and store in a spray bottle. Apply to a clean cloth, wipe the surface, and then polish with a dry cloth. You can accomplish the same dust repellant trick on TV screens and computer monitors by dusting them with a used dryer sheet. It will still have just enough anti-static product in it to do the job without leaving any film or residue.

CUPCAKE LINERS. Muffin/cupcake paper liners are so handy to have around, but can be a pain to store. The best solution ever is to store them in a wide-mouth Mason (canning) jar. They stack perfectly and look pretty, too. Works well for stackable, colorful reusable silicon muffin/cupcake cups, too.

MAGNET PIN SWEEP. Keep a small magnet in your sewing box or basket. It’s handy for rounding up wayward pins and dropped needles. Just run it across the carpet, floor or work surface and watch those pins grab on.

HANDY MEASURE. Caught without a measuring tape, but you need to measure something quickly? Grab your wallet. A U.S. dollar bill is for all practical purposes, exactly 6 inches wide. Fold it in half and you’ve got a 3-inch measure. Do it again to measure 1.5 inches. This is a great trick to teach kids.

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