Dear Heloise: Please warn your readers about additional charges when flying. Some airlines charge for a carry-on piece. We're told not to check medicines, toiletries or snacks, so a carry-on is necessary. If the carry-on is too big, travelers might be required to check baggage, and that could cost $25. Air travel is one of the fastest and safest ways to travel, but flyers need to keep abreast of the fees the airlines are charging. -- Henry S., Portland, Oregon

Henry, it's a brave new world for air travelers! Check with the airline about any "extra" charges before you get to the airport. -- Heloise

The culture

Dear Heloise: My husband and I are "road warriors." We've taken our van all over the U.S. and Canada, and have learned a thing or two about traveling.

Ask locals where they go for lunch. People who live in the area know the best places for tasty food at reasonable prices. If you haven't tried a local bed-and-breakfast, give it a shot. They often are loaded with charm at a reasonable price, and usually breakfast is included. -- Frank and Patty G., Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Money-saving tips

Dear Heloise: As a travel agent, I've learned a few ways to save money on a trip:

1. Travel off-season -- you'll get better rates on airfare and hotels, plus there's less crowding.

2. Use a shuttle bus instead of a taxi or car rental, if possible.

3. Try to "sweet-talk" your way to a better room or a later checkout time. You can't talk to a computer the same way you can in person, so try to get the best deal you can.

4. Try local dishes instead of looking for American fast-food places. Many local dishes usually are cheaper and can be a whole new taste sensation.

5. Can a friend drop you off or pick you up at the airport? It's much better than paying for long-term parking. -- Connie Y. in Dallas

Safety hint

Dear Heloise: Please remind people that they shouldn't travel with expensive items such as valuable jewelry.

Also, you're better off with moderately priced luggage, because baggage handlers are rushed and can't be gentle with luggage. Luggage gets tossed around and sometimes damaged. Expensive luggage does not get better treatment and can be damaged easily.

Thieves target people who look like they have money by spotting expensive jewelry, luggage, cameras, etc. -- A Reader, via email

Good suggestions. Also, don't leave electronic equipment in plain sight in your hotel room! A lot of people have keys and can snatch things in a minute.

My travel safety hint is to always lock and bolt or chain the door when inside the room. When leaving, put the "do not disturb" sign out, and leave the TV on. It will appear and sound like someone is in the room. -- Heloise

First impressions

Dear Heloise: I'm a salesperson who meets a lot of new people daily. One of the first impressions is a simple handshake. You would not believe how some people shake hands.

Here are some hints I've learned: Make sure your handshake is firm and not limp and squishy. Please, try to have clean hands and not damp or wet ones. Look the other person in the eye and smile, especially when it's a first meeting. -- John T. in New York City

Shopping bag hint

Dear Heloise: Since we have to supply our own bags at the market, here's my hint: Put all the bags into one bag, and attach it to the seat belt in the child seat. Let them hang off the side. -- Jo Costanzo, Camarillo

Password safety

Dear Heloise: Those security questions on websites? A good safety measure, but I always answer incorrectly as an added safety measure. Some of the common questions I've seen: high school you went to, favorite dog's name, etc. I use an alternative answer or spell the answer backward. -- Hollie B., Corpus Christi, Texas

Safety for kids

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Dear Heloise: Please tell parents that when they are out for a walk or bicycle ride to make sure the youngest is riding and/or walking in front of them. Many times I have seen the youngest child struggling to keep up. -- J.D., Rockville, Maryland

All bottled up

Dear Heloise: When traveling by air, there's one thing you really need in your carry-on bag: an empty water bottle. After going through security, you can fill it up at a water fountain. Many times I've been on a rough flight where refreshments were not served, and it came in handy. -- Kathy P., Port Charlotte, Florida

Keeping in touch

Dear Heloise: Most of us have friends who, for many reasons, have drifted away. A couple of years ago, some of my friends and I started to reconnect, and we decided to get together once a month. We choose a restaurant using the alphabet: first month the letter A, the second month the letter B and so on. Sometimes we travel out of our community, and sometimes we meet close by, but we always have fun and stay in touch with each other. -- S.D.J.B., via email

Paraffin wax

Dear Heloise: Is household paraffin wax edible? Nowhere on the box does it say "edible." -- Janice P., via email

Janice, paraffin is used as an ingredient in making chocolate, especially chocolates that are given shapes, such as Easter bunnies or Santas. A little wax is mixed in to make the chocolate hold its shape and to add shine. Paraffin wax is actually nondigestible, which means it passes through the body without being absorbed. However, eating a large amount of paraffin is dangerous and can lead to intestinal blockage, which can be very serious! -- Heloise

Spaghetti squash

Dear Readers: The humble spaghetti squash can be used in place of pasta, but unlike pasta, spaghetti squash has only 42 calories per serving (1 cup); pasta can have nearly 200 calories per serving (1 cup). Pasta also is lacking in vitamins C and A, while spaghetti squash has both vitamins. Spaghetti squash is high in beta carotene, which helps prevent heart disease. The level of potassium in spaghetti squash helps lower high blood pressure over time. The omega-6 fatty acid is excellent for the brain, and the folate contained in spaghetti squash is essential for pregnant women to help prevent birth defects. Also, spaghetti squash contains 0 grams of cholesterol.

When a recipe calls for pasta, you might want to replace it with spaghetti squash for a more interesting and nutritious dish. -- Heloise

Stronger, healthier

Dear Heloise: Rub an inexpensive hair conditioner into bare nails, cuticles, toes and heels at night, but be sure to wear socks to keep the sheets clean. Your nails will feel and appear stronger and healthier. -- Sharon L. in San Antonio

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: