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103 posts categorized "Travel"

August 22, 2014

Helpful Tips for That Last Family Road Trip Before Labor Day

Road_trip-thinkstock-475680679-1200x600Before the back-to-school rush, many families will be making the most of one last summer vacation. In fact, the overall national average of a gallon of gas has dropped 13 cents in the past week, and according to a report from, about 40 percent of Americans plan to take one last leisure trip before Labor Day, a holiday weekend when some analysts believe gas prices will be at their lowest nationwide.

Whether it’s a road trip across the state, a trip to drop off a student at college, a picnic in the park, or vacation to a tropical island, it's important to be prepared for the last outing of the summer.

AskPatty has been receiving emails all sumer long about foods and products that would be perfect to take along in the car for family road trips. (I'm not kidding, I get e-newsletters several times a week from!) Whether you're looking for something to feed the kids on a lunch break or something to help keep them occupied and comfortable along the way, we've learned about it this summer, and are sharing it with you here. We've even got a few items for traveling pets as well.


Food and Drink:

Coconut_waterCoconut Juice

For a healthy and kid-friendly beverage, Amy & Brian Coconut Juice ( is a great choice! I don't know about you, but I'd never tried coconut juice before Amy & Brian sent me samples, and I fell in love! Coconut juice is all the rage these days as a great alternative to sodas for kids with no added sugar or preservatives, and even contains natural electrolytes to aid hydration. So pack some in the road trip cooler, turn off the A/C, roll down the windows, and enjoy the light, refreshing goodness of Amy & Brian Coconut Juice!

“We’ve always been a favorite among kids,” says David Hollister, a spokesperson for Amy & Brian Naturals. “We offer all-natural coconut juice that is sourced from fresh young coconuts in Thailand, which are noticeably sweeter than their Brazilian counterparts and found in other coconut beverages.” Kids love the sweet and simple taste, and parents love the price. For only $8/pack of six in three all-natural flavors (original, with pulp, and with lime), Amy & Brian’s Coconut Juice is available in a variety of grocery outlets, is affordably delicious, and refreshingly good for the whole family.

Real_McCoys_rice_SnaxReal McCoy’s Rice Snax

Real McCoy’s Rice Snax  offers some delicious and flavorful rice chips and puffs, all of which are gluten-free and non-GMO (the chips are even vegan). They offer several flavors including Hatch Chile, Vermont White Cheddar, and Worcester and Chives. This is another food product I would not have tried if they hadn't sent me samples, but I gotta admit, the Worcester & Chives rice chips  with whole grain brown rice kernels were tasty and offered yummy texture for great chewing satisfaction. And the Vermont White Cheddar rice puffs were a nice alternative to the traditional orange cheese puffs that will stain your hands and clothes, or light-colored car interiors. Packaged in larger 6-ounce packages or smaller 1.5-oz bags that are perfect for lunches, shoppers can find the Real McCoy's Rice Snax at grocery stores.

Woats_snackWOATS Oatsnacks

For a healthy snack that seems more like a sinful indulgence, WOATS Oatsnack is not your typical granola. WOATS is actually sweet modern day fusion of wholesome gently baked oats and premium ingredients that kids can enjoy and parents can feel good about. Their mouth-watering flavors and convenient size make them an easy on-the-go solution for when hunger strikes.

Each 10-ounce bag is generously filled with delicious clusters of healthy oats and tantalizing ingredients that satisfy cravings without preservatives or excess fat. My favorite, "Nuts About Berries" pairs handfuls of Southern roasted praline pecans with tangy cranberries for a mix that tastes both sweet and savory. "Peanut Butter Graham Slam" was my next favorite flavor thanks to crisp honey graham crackers and sweet butter toffee peanuts that add protein to this healthy indulgence. If you prefer a sweeter snack, Cookies 'n' Dreams is a sweet treat any child will enjoy, thanks to chunks of chocolate vanilla cream sandwich cookies mixed in with the oats.

WOATS is available in select stores and at Amazon for about $9 per 10-ounce bag.

Umpqua_oatsUmpqua Oats Instant Oatmeal

If you're looking for a super yummy instant breakfast that offers great flavors and awesome chewing satisfaction, then pick up a cup of UmpquaOats

The first thing you'll notice is their ingredient list doesn’t say “oats,” it says “groats!” No, that’s not a typo. Groats are the whole hulled grain and include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion as well as the endosperm, which is the usual product of milling. What does that mean? UmpquaOats are made with a larger, thicker, unbleached, whole oat that's not processed into “instant” oats. Bottom line? This oatmeal is not soft and mushy! Like the chefs say, it’s “al dente!”

They also have delicious flavors never seen before in oatmeal, and most of their flavors are made with all natural ingredients. They say they add no colorings, preservatives, or fillers, just good quality fruits, nuts, and other mix-ins.

I have usually found them at specialty coffee shops but they're also sold at grocery stores like Albertsons, Lucky, Gelsons, and Whole Foods, priced around $3.50 per serving. These are ideal to have in the car for roadtrips because all you need is hot water to feed your family a tasty, warm breakfast on the go.


Items to Help You Travel in Comfort and Safety

Skymall-travel_rest_travel_pillowTravelRest Travel Pillow

Passengers can cuddle into this inflatable pillow for comfy rest during travel thanks to a unique shape that tethers to your body or to the seat in planes, cars, buses, or trains to support the head, neck and upper body. This lets travelers sleep soundly and comfortably while sitting upright.

The TravelRest travel pillow inflates easily to its full length of 26 inches and deflates into a 2"x 9" bundle for storage; it's also available in a variety of colors so the kids won't get their pillows confused. $29.99

SkyMall-Trunk-Cooler-OrganizerTrunk Organizer and Cooler Set

This durable three-section trunk organizer has space for a removable Thermal Shield insulated cooler, and a mesh pocket for maps etc. It's great for keeping sports gear, cleaning supplies, and groceries organized and separated from all the other stuff rolling around in your trunk. Foldable when not in use to maintain trunk space, and designed in the USA from 600D polycanvas, the set boasts a lifetime warranty. Item dimensions: 12"x 23" x 14" Folded 12" x 14" x 3". $51


Skymall-neo-grab-smart-phone-holderNeo Grab Smart Phone Holder

Conveniently mount your smartphone or mini tablet to the dashboard or windshield of your car with only one hand! Its rotating clip holder was designed for one-hand mounting and operation for safety and versatility to help keep your smart phone within view for easy navigation and hands-free voice operation with easy angle adjustments, and horizontal or vertical orientation.

The Neo Grab phone holder promises to be the ultimate cradle for your portable electronic devices. Because it fits devices with LCD screens up to 6-inches, you can use the NEO GRAB for smartphones, GPS devices, and mini tablets, even in a case! Besides making your portable device handsfree in the car, Skymall says it's an ideal household accessory for the kitchen, office, bathroom, bedroom, garage, work, etc. because its non-slip grip pads hold the device securely, and can rotate 360 degrees. Made of high-impact plastic, its powerful suction cup adhesive easily attaches to any smooth, non-porous surface like glass, drywall, plastic, wood, and metal. $34.99

Skymall-ipad-paintbrushiPad Paintbrush

If you've got kids, then you know what can happen when crayons get left behind in a hot car. If you've got an iPad or other tablet, your kids can stay creative while traveling without the danger of melted crayons thanks to this digital paintbrush/stylus from Hammacher Schlemmer that allows you to create works of art on a tablet computer or smartphone. The paintbrush uses patent-pending synthetic hairs infused with conductive properties, designed with the same taper, flexibility, and strength as traditional bristles, resulting in the same feel and authentic strokes. Identical in size and weight to typical painting implements, the iPad paintbrush simulates painting in acrylic, watercolor, or charcoal media using Apple and Android apps such as PIcsArt, ASKetch, and Brushes.

The other end of the brush has a rubber stylus that enables sketching or handwriting. Made from brass with chrome plating and a soft rubber grip for optimal control, Skymall says the portable paintbrush is ompatible with all devices with capacitive touchscreens including iPhone, Kindle Fire, Nexus, Samsung Tablet, and more. $49.95


SkyMall-commute-mate-insta-clothsCommuteMate InstaCloths

Carrying a package of wet wipes in the car can be bulky and they usually end up drying out before youv'e had a chance to use them, so keep these CommuteMate InstaCloths on hand for quick cleanups.
InstaCloth is a tablet that converts from a tablet to cloth in seconds. This is a go-anywhere-use anytime product that will fit in your vehicle's glove box, toolbox, baby bag, carry-on, briefcase, workshop and everywhere else. Comes with 32 tablets for $14.95.


Go-girl_female_urinary_DeviceGo-Girl Female Urination Device

Sometimes you just gotta go, and if you're like me, you can't stand smelly dirty public restrooms: In that case you should check out the "GoGirl" female urination device that allows women to urinate while standing up.

That's why I keep one of these in the glovebox of my car, to have wherever my travels take me. Trust me, it's so much easier to use than a paper cup in an emergency!!!

The GoGirl is neat, discreet, and hygienic. And it's the perfect alternative to crowded, disgusting, distant, or non-existent public bathrooms. "Women have been faced with the challenge of unfit or nonexistent restrooms for quite some time," says Sarah Dillon, president and founder of GoGirl. "GoGirl is the perfect solution to any bathroom emergency a woman can face. For campers, there are no more soiled clothing or shoes; for travelers, there's no more worrying about what kind of bathroom you'll find or if you find one at all. Even if you just want to avoid germs in places like gas stations and shopping malls, there's a use for GoGirl in almost any situation."

Travel-john_portable_urinalsTravel John Disposable Waste Collection Kits 

This is a great product for parents with small children with small bladders, or who tend to get car sick when traveling. TravelJohn is a safe hygienic and civilized solution for when you have an emergency bathroom need but there isn't one around for miles (like stuck in traffic on the freeway! :) The key to their products' success is in their proprietary LIQSORB® super absorbent polymer pouch. This patented technology transforms liquids into a gel form that not only eliminates offensive odors but is completely biodegradable. It absorbs, deodorizes and disinfects instantly, leaving behind a spill-proof package that can be disposed of in any trash can.

At TravelJohn, they've envisioned a world where no "accidents" ruin the journey and everyone from mom and dad to junior and grandma can enjoy the ride. Smaller collection bags can be used for vomit or urine, but they've even got a larger sized product that can be used for solid waste collection. They have a line called the TravelJohn Jr. that is specifically designed for kids!!

Their products can be found at stores like PepBoys for $5 to $30, or check out the entire TravelJohn product line here at Amazon. 


Travel Tips for your Pets

Mini_cooper_travel_feederTravel Feeders for your Pet

This cute little waterproof, easy-to-clean container from Mini Cooper makes pet meals on the go a snap thanks to separate compartments for food and water, and then collapses into a handy zip storage case with rugged leather exterior. $25


Roxy_in_carPet Harnesses and Restraints

Americans love to drive their animal friends with them about town. Now that dogs fit in purses, pigs act like dogs, and even cats are learning to love the leash, there’s no reason to leave the family favorite at home. Our friend James Hamel has recently assembled a collection of Five Car Safety Devices for Pets,  with great items meant to keep your pets safe on the road.

Whether you want to carry your furry friend in a crate, harness, or separate the cargo area of an SUV into a giant dog crate, our pets are family. We believe it's imperative that your pet is properly protected, just as you’d make sure your kid is buckled up in the backseat. Pricing ranges depending on the restraint system.


Canine_coverCanine Covers

Canine Covers have been making car seat and cargo covers since 1998 and provide the most comfortable way for your dog to ride in style while protecting vehicle seating surfaces, floor, seatback and cargo areas from pet hair, scuffing and “accidents”. They can make a custom pet pad for your car and also offer an entire stock of already-made ones that will fit most any bucket and bench seats. Perfectly tailored from a variety of fabric colors and patterns to fit the contours of your car, SUV, or pickup, Canine Covers can even accommodate a split seatback with a hook and loop closure seam. Seat belt openings allow use of a canine travel restraints or easy use by two-legged passengers as well. Pricing is determined by vehicle and application.


Travel Safely!

Summertime road trips can be great fun—there’s nothing better than watching the countryside pass by as you leave your home, daily life, and troubles behind. But do you know what to do if your car does something "strange" along the way?

We've shared a handy cheat sheet with our friends at Women & Co on when to pull over—and how to help prevent an emergency when you’re on the road. Take a look so you'll know to do if you suspect that you might be experiencing car trouble during your travels.


August 01, 2014

The Truth About the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

2014_Mitsubishi-Mirage-sh2967_1200x600It’s a fact that the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is an inexpensive, super fuel-efficient subcompact five-door hatchback.

It’s a fact that in base DE trim with a manual transmission and no extras, the Mirage has an MSRP that starts at $12,995, though it can price as high as $17,920 in ES trim with a CVT transmission and additional options. (Note that these figures do not include $810 destination and delivery fees.)

It’s also a fact that based on EPA ratings the Mirage is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car currently for sale in the U.S. It’s powered by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 74 horsepower, and promises fuel economy of 37 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway, with 40 mpg combined.

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June 27, 2014

Summer Time Family Road Trip Prep

Road_trip-thinkstock-165126667-sSchool's out and summer is here. Are you planning a family road trip? I know at least two families who are planning extended road trips that will be taking them more than 1500 miles round trip in the next two weeks. That's a lot of time in the car!

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June 25, 2014

Summer Road Trips: Why You Need an Espresso Machine in Your Car

Roadtrip_coffee_thinkstock-82756205Have you ever found yourself on the road craving some coffee? Have you found yourself either nowhere near your favorite coffee shop, or simply can’t convince yourself to pay for an overpriced cup?

Or even worse, it’s late at night and you've got the nods and there's no coffee shop for a hundred miles. Almost makes you wish you had brought your personal espresso machine, don’t you? Well, there is a solution.

Many of today’s vehicles now have power outlets that would allow using a personal espresso machine in the car for a great way to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee wherever you are.

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June 09, 2014

Quick Car Cleaning Tips to Prep for Summer Road Trips

Road_trip-thinkstock-200299958_sWinter has finally waned, spring has sprung, and the passing of Memorial Day means summer road trips are just around the corner!

If you haven't already done it, now is the time to prepare your car for the summer travel season with the yearly ‘spring cleaning’ ritual.



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June 06, 2014

Tire Safety for Summer Road Trips

Road_trip-thinkstock-122584104_sSummer is here, which means that families across the country are starting to make plans for their summer road trip adventures. If you'll be taking an extended road trip in the next few months, we've got some safety tips to make sure your tires are ready to roll.


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April 15, 2014

Coachella McDonald's Corvette Stingray Oasis Pool Party

Corvette_Coachella_Mcdonalds_PartyCelebrities stopped by the McDonald’s and Corvette Stingray Desert Pool Party at the Bootsy Bellows Estate on April 12, 2014 to celebrate the launch of McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger and the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Celebrities sampled the new Bacon Clubhouse Burger, rode shotgun for the Stingray Experience, and beat the heat pool-side in VIP cabanas.

Many famous faces who attended the party included one of my favorite Glee stars Dianna Agron who was spotted out with her new man Thomas Cocquere and Leonardo DiCaprio who smoked electronic cigarettes and chowed down on a Bacon Clubhouse Burger and fries in his private cabana.

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November 25, 2013

Safety Tips: What To Do If You Hit A Deer

Thinkstock-deer-car-177328201-sIt’s that time of year: late fall and early winter are the peak times to beware of deer in the roadway, and we know you don’t want to hit one.

Deer are abundant in the fall and winter because it's both hunting and mating seasons when deer are more likely to roam outside their normal territory. Pay attention to "deer crossing" signs--they’re usually installed in areas where deer are already known to be abundant. Scan down the road and off to each side and pay particular attention at dusk and dawn, when such animals as deer, elk, and moose usually venture out to eat. If you’re driving at night, watch for pairs of small glowing lights on the side of the road that could be animal eyeballs reflecting the light from your headlights. 

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September 24, 2013

Car Games: Volkswagen replaces Punch Buggy with SmileDrive

Volkswagen-smiledrive-app-smilescoreIf you would prefer NOT to be punched in the arm by passengers in the car whenever they spy a Beetle on the road, then you might prefer the modern, high-tech version of the game -- called SmileDrive -- playable on your smart phone. (Sorry Apple fans, the game is not yet available for iPhone users.)

Whether you call it “Slug Bug,” “Punch Buggy,” or “Slug Dub,” the free app from Volkswagen and powered by Google has re-imagined the classic car game, automatically allowing people to collect “punches” each time they encounter another Volkswagen also using the app. But the app also does much more than that!

Aside from preventing bruises, SmileDrive is designed to maximize fun on every trip, by connecting to a user’s car—any kind of car—through Bluetooth® wireless technology, to run in the background and track data for both everyday commutes and road trips. (Drivers cannot interact with the app, nor receive any notifications, while the car is in motion.) Then, after a drive is complete, the app uses factors like location, distance, time, and weather to deliver users their Smile Score and awards them with virtual bumper “stickers” for unique accomplishments earned while out and about.  (I wish I had installed the app for my 3400-mile summertime roadtrip across the southwest United States!)

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August 21, 2013

How to Eat Carefully While on a Road Trip

Healthy-Eating-Road-Trip_Thinkstock-105671811-sAs students prepare to return to school across the country, is your family planning a last-chance road trip? In addition to watching the road, are you also watching what you eat? For all the education we do about distracted driving awareness, this feature is going in a different direction: in this article we are sharing healthy eating tips while in the car, especially if you’re taking a family road trip!

My friend Amy Culver, also known as “The Queen of Lean” has shared the following tips on healthy, calorie-conscious choices you can make while in the car, so that with a little planning, you can save money, eat nutritiously, and create some nice family memories on your end-of-summer road trip.

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