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June 2014
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August 2014

5 entries from July 2014

Monthly Poll: What Kind of Road Trip Packer Are You?

Road Trip Packing
Photo: iStock

My least favourite thing about road trips is packing up the vehicle. Correct car packing procedure involves four things I greatly dislike: thinking, planning, bending and doing. I'm more of a spontaneous, "toss it in and hope for the best" type of packer. Fortunately, my better half is an expert packer and since we've been together, my only jobs are to bring the bags to the curb and wrangle the dog. Teamwork!

"Being organized" when it comes to packing is apparently something one learns from one's parents. Fortunately for those of us whose packing skills were not honed when we were young, the internet is here to help! A quick look at Pinterest and you'll find thousands of organizational tips and tricks for road trip or camping packing.

Some people make lists and pack into plastic bins; some people favour traditional suitcases and ziploc bags. Some people pack one bag per person, others choose to pack everyone's stuff together for each day of the trip. After looking at several photos of well-organized trunks, I'm almost ready to try a more organized approach to packing myself! Almost.

Regardless of your packing style, this article in has some great tips on how to pack your car safely - definitely something for even the most cavalier packer to consider.

Over to you! Are you the "lists and planning" type or the "toss and go" type when you pack for a road trip? Take our poll below!

6 Tips for Keeping Your Car Cool in the Heat

Car sun shade
Photo: iStock

Every time I get into my car these days, it's like I'm walking into a Bikram yoga class - unbelievably hot and instantly sweaty. Since we made the switch from underground parking to street parking a few years back, keeping the car cool in the summer has been a challenge.

It's tempting to just idle the car while running the air conditioning - but that wastes fuel and pollutes the air! So here are a few tricks we've employed over the years to keep your car from burning you in the summer.

Park in the shade - Obviously.

Cover the wheel - A red hot steering wheel sure makes it hard to drive. A fabric steering wheel cover can really help cut down on hot hands - but if you don't like the feel of a steering wheel cover, you can always keep a hand towel in the car to throw over the steering wheel when you park.

Cover the leather/vinyl - I'm sure that anyone who grew up with vinyl or leather car seats remembers the searing pain of those white hot seats on the back of your legs in the summer. Seat covers not only protect your legs but also your seats from sun damage.

Get a car sun shade - A reflective car sun shade may not be the sexiest thing you can put in your car but it will keep the surfaces from scalding you. Plus, it will keep your dashboard from cracking and peeling. You can also get window shades to keep the back of the car shaded from direct sun.

Bring a beverage - It's important to stay hydrated in the summer and having a cool beverage can help ease the transition from hot parked car to air conditioned, moving car. My drink of choice - the slush.

Cool it from the toes up - Once you've vented the hot air and are turning on the air conditioning, make sure your AC is blowing on your feet. Because when your feet are cool, you'll be cool! Speaking of feet, be sure to wear lightweight but fitted shoes when you drive - loose sandals and flip flops can make driving dangerous

Do you have any tips for keeping the car cool? Leave them in the comments!

- Rose R.

Bike Alert! Keeping Summer Cyclists Safe

Share the Road
Photo: iStock

This sobering statistic came across my desk the other day: about 100 cyclists per month are injured in Vancouver between May and October. Sadly, that number is just a drop in the bucket - according to the CAA, around 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured in Canada every year.

Since many of my friends and family are avid cyclists, a quick refresher on preventing car/bicycle accidents seemed in order! Here are some tips from a previous post on enhancing cycling safety for both cyclists and drivers:

Must-have list for safer driving:

  • Slow down when passing a cyclist and allow one metre clearance
  • Always shoulder check when changing lanes
  • Watch for bikes before exiting your vehicle
  • Always yield to cyclists when you are making a turn

Make sure you cycle safe with these tips:

  • Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals
  • Avoid hazards – stay about one metre from the curb or parked cars
  • Wear a properly sized helmet
  • Make sure your bike is in proper working order — check horn, brakes and reflectors

Most of the near misses I see out on the road seem to happen because either the driver or the cyclist has made assumptions - that there's no one beside them or that they've been seen. As the ICBC's director of road safety says in that article, "Never assume they've seen you." He encourages cyclists and drivers to make eye contact with each other when possible. Being aware and respectful of each other is the best way for both cyclists and drivers to keep the road safe for all.

Do you ride your bike in the city? If you have any biking safety tips, share them in the comments!

- Rose R.

Five Essential Items to Bring on Your Summer Road Trip

Family road trip
Photo: iStock

Heading to the cottage, embarking on a camping adventure or just enjoying the scenery slide by - road trip season has officially kicked off!

As a road trip enthusiast myself, I thought that now seemed like a good time to post about five essential items you should have with you on any road trip.

1. A fully stocked car safety kit. For a complete list of things to include in your kit, check out our car safety kit post. You might want to make some adjustments for summer - although hats and mittens may still come in handy, depending on where you're travelling!

2. Paper maps. I learned this tip the hard way when the GPS we'd bought right before our road trip died an hour out of Vancouver and the car charger didn't work. HA ha! When GPS fails and there's no cell service, you'll be REALLY happy you hauled your map book with you.

3. Extra fluids. Bring extra drinking water for everyone and extra coolant, in case your car overheats. Keeping yourself and your car hydrated is key in hot weather.

4. Cash. 99% of my transactions are on my credit or debit cards. But one time in the U.S., the gas station I was at didn't take debit and refused to accept my credit card. You never know when good old paper currency can come in handy. Keep it on you in case your car is stolen.

5. Portable jumpstarter. This particular gadget, the JunoJumpr, would be perfect in a road trip emergency - it charges your cell phone AND jumpstarts your car! Handy if you're somewhere remote and there's no one around to give you a jump.

Bonus item: A towel. Because, as we all learned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a towel is "just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitchhiker can carry."

Think I missed any road trip essentials? Leave them in the comments! Happy road tripping!

- Rose R.

Monthly Poll: Could you pass your Learner's test today?

Between writing for PumpTalk and being out on the world, I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the rules of the road. But then I came across a video on the Globe and Mail (sadly, no longer available without a subscription), demonstrating that many experienced drivers don't remember some of the basics.

I started to wonder…could *I* pass my learner's test today? 

The last time I took the learner's test was loooooong time ago, so naturally, I was curious about how I would fare taking it again without the frantic studying. I went online and found an online practice test. I enjoyed the feeling of being a sweaty-palmed 17 year old again as I worked my way through the questions.

Fortunately, the results were not too embarrassing:

Practice Test Results

I got one question wrong - I totally blanked out on what this sign means:

Practice Test Results

Yes, I remember what it means…now. It means the lane is only for two-way left turns.

Of course, not everyone has time to take the full practice test for "research" purposes (although I know you're all tempted to try). Whether or not you take the test, the big question is - do you think you could you pass your Learner's test today? Take our poll below!

- Rose R.