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Travel: Road Tip! [The Washington Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Craig Stoltz, editor
Travel / The Washington Post
July 5, 1998

This summer, at least one time, you are certain to spend an extended period belted into a glass-and-metal envelope barreling down the road at 60 mph, perhaps surrounded by people you love, perhaps by people who annoy you, or if your luck is particularly bad, by people who love to annoy you. You will be headed someplace where you hope to have a fine time.

To avoid being slightly impatient, uncomfortable and bored, abide by our readers’ favorite road-tested tips for car travel. They have driven many miles many times and, native geniuses that they are, have concocted some novel ways to deal with the inconveniences, problems and hazards of traveling by car.

So check that passenger-side mirror, adjust your lumbar support and get a big or travel mug of your favorite road beverage. We’re going for a ride.

• Strangest Be-Sure-To-Pack Suggestion: A 15-foot piece of nylon parachute cord, recommended by Herb Hagerty of the District. To lash complaining passengers into silence? No. He uses it to tie suitcases to the roof, hold the door closed if the latch breaks, or keep overstuffed suitcases shut.

• Pack in Trash Bins: Virginian Robert Simmons was searching for a way to organize his clothes for a cross-country trip to California when, one day at work, he stumbled over the perfect solution. “I looked down and there it was, a clean plastic wastepaper basket,” Simmons says. He went out and bought a set of six at a discount store and lined them up side by side in the trunk of his car. “They were perfect for organizing shirts, underwear, socks and dirty clothes,” he enthuses.

• Disguise your Car: A less strange method to prevent your car from being targeted by thieves, advises Deborah Jacobs of Fairfax, “don’t hang clothes in the back of your car or leave maps lying around in plain view. You’ll be a sitting duck for someone to prey on. Put all your stuff in the trunk, out of view.”

• The Ziploc Brigade Hits the Road: Not only have Ziploc fanatics reproduced, they have taken to the road. Of course, it’s easy to make your car trip neater and cleaner by packing snacks, a change of clothes, swimming’ hole garb, roadside restroom hygiene bags and so on in the see-through closeables. But for all-purpose road travel, we liked this submission by Les Welch of Alexandria: “Moisten a washcloth and fold it into a mid-size sealable plastic bag, along with a few ice cubes,” he writes. “Sealed tight, the baggie can be tucked away anywhere to soothe a fevered brow, handle spills and generally clean up your act.”

• Another Wet Trick for Extra Humidity Control: TV cameraman Donald Lee of Alexandria is on the road a lot for work. And he often stays at roadside motels featuring dry heat, which can deplete precious bodily fluids and create enough static electricity to light the MCI Center. Lee has developed a slick trick to humidify the air. He takes a large bathroom towel, soaks it in water in the bathroom sink and spreads the wet towels on or in front of the heater, being careful not to cover the vents. Then he fills and ice bucket and sticks one corner of the towel into it. “The towel ‘wicks’ the water from the bucket, and humidifies the room all night.”

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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