Dear Heloise: After graduation from college, my two girlfriends and I want to backpack through Europe. The problem is that we need to stay in some very cheap places (other than park benches). Any suggestions?

Ashley H., Boulder, Colo.

Ashley H.: The first thing to check on are hostels. Many of them are clean, modern and cheap accommodations. A unique option is monasteries, which usually have reasonable rates, but they all have curfews. There are a number of other possibilities, so check them out thoroughly, and good luck!

Dear Heloise: Have you heard about the Jamaican lottery scam? It might be a phone call or an email that alerts you that you have won an unbelievable amount of money. Do not give out any financial information — in fact, DO NOT respond. When you respond, they target you for more scamming tricks.

Pearl K., Dudley Gap, W.Va.

Dear Heloise: To keep my earrings together and in one place, I bought a nuts-and-bolts box with lots of small drawers and hung it in my closet. Now it's easy to find what I want, and they have a place of their own.

Kaysene M., Orange, Calif.

Dear Heloise: My husband likes his steaks pan-fried, but frying makes them so tough! Any help would be appreciated.

A Reader in Ohio

Reader in Ohio: First, do you use a cast iron pan? It’s the best for frying steak. Next, let your steak warm up a little before frying. Take it out of the refrigerator, and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot with a paper towel to get moisture out (too much moisture boils the meat). Next, make sure your pan is very hot when you drop the steak in, and sear it on both sides, after which you can turn the heat down to medium. Don’t overcook it, or it’ll be dry and tough. When you’re done cooking the steak, let it sit on a plate for a few minutes so that all the juices flow back into the center.

Dear Heloise: Most break-ins occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. through ground-level windows and doors, so check both window and door locks, and add window bars for extra security. You can also add security cameras or motion detectors. If you can afford a security monitoring system, all the better. If you are home while a burglar is trying to get in, go to a neighbor's house or a store nearby and call the police. Tell them there is a robbery currently in progress. Your safety is your first priority.

Janet S., Waco, Tex.

Dear Heloise: A freezer bag will have white space on it for writing about the contents of the bag (use-by date, cooking instructions, etc.). A nonfreezer bag will not have any white space, so you can tell the difference.

Mary, via email

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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