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May 2009

May 29, 2009

Road Safety for All Ages

Road safetyAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 6 million motor vehicle crashes take place in America each year, resulting in an injury every 11 seconds and a motor vehicle fatality every 12 minutes.

Establishing and maintaining good driving habits can have a profound impact on whether your vehicle becomes part of the statistics. Safety education is important for all drivers whether they are new teen drivers, experienced drives or senior drivers.

Educate teens about safe driving and make sure they've had plenty of instruction with a seasoned driver prior to driving solo. Provide a refresher on important safety tips and information for experience drivers. Encourage seniors to continually and honestly gauge their ability behind the wheel.

Read more about driver safety for all ages in RTM's full article.

May 28, 2009

How to Eat Healthy In Restaurants

Healthy-Eating Most travelers eat the majority of their meals in restaurants. But large meals and fatty foods don't have to spell nutritional disaster. Here are some tips to eat healthy in restaurants:

1. Order it your way. Don’t be afraid to ask for your dish without the fatty items, ask for less meat and extra veggies.

2. Stretch your manners. It’s ok to drain the extra butter or dab the greasy pizza. It’s better than stretching your waistline.

3. Control your portions. Just because serving sizes are enormous, you don't have to be.

More Tips to eat healthy in restaurants.

May 27, 2009

Top 5 Important Questions to Ask Your Mechanic

Ask mechanicTaking your vehicle in for repairs can be an intimidating task, especially if you’re not familiar with the lingo associated with vehicle maintenance and repair.

Whether you need a problem fixed immediately or are simply searching for an auto care center to perform routine maintenance, there are a number of important questions all vehicle owners should ask before turning their keys over to an automotive technician:

1. Are you ASE certified?
2. What payment policies and guarantees do you offer?
3. What is your used parts policy?
4. Do you have a list of references I can contact?
5. Can I receive a written explanation of what work was completed on my vehicle?

Click here to learn more about these questions and taking your car to the shop.

May 26, 2009

Top Scenic Convertible Drives

Scenic convertible drives As summer kicks into gear and soaring temperatures cook the asphalt on roads across the country, we’d like to unveil the best places to go topless this season. Here are the top three:

1. Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Albuquerque, NM
The International Balloon Fiesta has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Put the top down to see the skies above Albuquerque transformfrom their normal brilliant blue into a kaleidoscope of color. Balloons drift quietly against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, while the peaceful sound of a humming engine is muted occasionally by the roar of thousands of people cheering a liftoff.

2. Highway 1California Coastline
The southern portion of this winding road takes drivers past the old
Malibu Pier and glorious Zuma Beach where convertibles easily grab the warm California sunshine. Drop the top, crank the heater and continue north to majestic Big Sur where the California Redwood trees meet the Pacific Ocean.

3. Interstate 84Portland, OR
Convertibles were made for the pristine air of the Pacific Northwest, which is best enjoyed along Interstate 84 as it cuts directly through the awesome Columbia River Gorge, with its spectacular waterfalls and rocky crags. Put the top down and enjoy the same crisp gusts that make the Gorge one of the best spots in the country for windsurfing.

Click here for more great locations to let your car go topless.

Reader's Digest: Plan an Affordable Family Vacation

Us This month, global magazine Reader’s Digest takes planning affordable family travel to another level online. Reader’s Digest’s interactive map of the United States allows travelers to choose from a variety of summer trips that hit all 50 states, divided into four regions. Below are a couple of ideas from each region.


Western States:

·         Smith Rock State Park, OR: Smith Rock is known as one of the world's most popular rock-climbing destinations.

·         Alaska: Kotzebue, AK: See native Inupiat Eskimos nurture and raise wildlife in their natural habitat.

 Rocky Mountain States:

·         Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls, CO: Discover this remote mountain region featuring two state parks.

·         Snake River Valley Wine Country, ID: Tour Idaho’s wine country which is the perfect climate for growing grapes.

 Central States:

·         Villa Louis, WI: Visit one of the most beautifully restored Victorian homes in the United States.

·         Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, OK: See the location of the battle that killed Cheyenne chief Black Kettle in the surprise attack led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

 Eastern States:

·         The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, CT: Discover major trends in today’s art scene at this Ridgefield museum.

·         Amelia Island, FL: Visit this beautiful quaint and authentic Victorian seaport island for a quick trip back in time.

To take a closer look and discover other suggested trips using Reader Digest's interactive map, click here.

May 25, 2009

Celebrate Summer with a Private Beach Vacation

Toptenbeaches-pic1 Sitting on a beach crammed full of people, ducking out of the way of flying Frisbees doesn’t really sound like a relaxing vacation. Still, if you are looking for a tropical beach getaway, a private beach might be just what the doctor ordered. Picture you and your sweetheart relaxing on a white sandy beach underneath the palm trees with not another soul in sight, now we are talking!

If this is what you are looking for your next getaway, here is a look at Hideaways International has the top 10 private beaches;

The Beach House, Palmetto Point, Barbuda
Tucked away on largely undeveloped Barbuda, this simple and simply perfect hideaway sits on a private lagoon, just steps from a tranquil slice of the Caribbean.

Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa, French Polynesia
You can't resist the charms of this enchanting resort on the private isle of Motu Toopua, with its overwater bungalows and the powder-soft white sand in perfect arcs of palm-fringed beach.

Click here for the complete list of private beaches on RTM.

May 23, 2009

2009 Chevy Cobalt Review – First Impression

by Courtney Caldwell

Chevy_cobalt09_pg_ext_09CHCL01045 Our test car this week was a 2009 Chevy Cobalt 2-door LT Coupe XFE. This cutie patootie coupe is a step up from the 2009 Chevy Aveo, which we tested two weeks ago. The Cobalt XFE sports 15” Wheels, XM Satellite Radio, power door locks and windows, split folding seats, and a remote trunk release, very nice for arms full of kids (or crap). For safety and security mortals, the Cobalt comes standard with free OnStar service for the first year, has both front and side curtain airbags with 4 and 5 star government safety ratings, a theft deterrent system, battery rundown protection, a latch system for child seats, and an emergency trunk release for little ones, or big ones, who think a trunk makes a good hiding place. Not!

We put a lot of mileage on this sporty little 5-speed coupe this week. Normally, I’m not a big fan of stick shifts in areas congested with stop and go traffic because all that shifting can sometimes be a pain in the parts but I have to say that the Cobalt’s gearbox and clutch worked in smooth tandem no matter how little or how much traffic there was. Fuel economy is pretty darn good in the Cobalt with about 25MPG city, and 37 on the freeways. The manual transmission also provides better gas mileage than an automatic for those more eco-conscious or fear the looming gas hikes this summer. The one thing I didn’t like about this model was the firmness of seats… a little too firm for my liking, but you can’t expect to buy a sporty car without a sporty ride. It comes with the territory. For the standard $16,460 price tag this coupe is pretty cool and comes loaded to the grilles even before adding more stuff.

Overall, my first impression of the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt was positive.

For more information on the 2009 Chevy Cobalt, click here.

May 22, 2009

Skip These States to Avoid Exploitation by Traffic Laws

27353884 Certain states’ traffic laws are geared more towards earning revenue than protecting drivers. With the first major driving holiday of the summer season approaching, the National Motorists Association - a national driver’s rights group - has analyzed the laws across the country to determine the best and the worst states when it comes to exploiting the motoring public.

Jim Baxter, President of the National Motorists Association, said, "it is not exactly a well kept secret that many traffic laws, enforcement practices, and traffic courts are more about generating revenue and political posturing, than they are about traffic safety. During holidays, like the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we're bombarded with horrendous fines, ‘click it or ticket’, and messages about intensified enforcement when in fact most vacation-related traffic accidents are caused by inattention, distraction and fatigue (causes which don’t generate much in the way of government revenue).”

These state rankings were calculated using seventeen criteria related to specific traffic laws, enforcement practices, and the treatment of traffic ticket defendants. The rankings are designed to provide guidance to travelers who do not want their vacation ruined by speed traps, arcane laws or "kangaroo" traffic courts.

The state most likely to find its way into your wallet is New Jersey. With its toll roads, roadblocks, and speed traps, it has hardly left a stone unturned when it comes to extracting cash from motorists.

Here are the worst ten states:

1) New Jersey
2) Ohio
3) Maryland
4) Louisiana
5) New York
6) Illinois
7) Delaware
8) Virginia
9) Washington
10) Massachusetts

On the opposite end of the spectrum, states that treated motorists most fairly are Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Kentucky.

(Source: National Motorists Association)

For more information on automotive and travel advice, go to Road & Travel Magazine.

Cut the Cost of Your Next Cruise

Cut-costs-on-cruise Cruise-related expenses have the potential to bust your budget, from the flight to your embarkation point to drinks on the cruise to shore excursions. Add-on expenses can equal or exceed the cost of your cruise if you're not careful.

To keep your spending under control, follow these tips:

1. Book your own flight
Most cruises offer a complete package including airfare. While packages offers the convenience of not worry about how to get from the airport to the cruise ship, it comes at a cost. Cruise lines buy airfare in bulk from the airlines a year in advance, so the airfare price never fluctuates. You’re a most likely able to find better deals.

2. Look at nearby ports
The days when cruise ships only sailed from Florida and California are long over. Other embarkation points include Galveston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana. Flights to those and other less well-known ports may be cheaper than other more well-known ports such as Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and Vancouver.

3. Check up on shore excursions
But by doing some homework before you leave, you can figure out exactly what you want to do when you're in port and book your own shore excursions for considerably less by cutting out the middleman — the cruise line.

More Tips to Cut Cruise Costs.

May 21, 2009

Plan a Road Trip Easily with AAA Club's Free TripTik

Roadready-pic1 Getting ready to plan a road trip for the summer? As exciting as getting out on the open road with your favorite people may be, making all those nitty gritty travel plans can be daunting. Lucky you — AAA Auto Club has made its famed online TripTik service available to the public. Better than simple map-and-direction web sites, TripTik is an all-in-one road travel planner that offers visitors the advantage of creating their own direction guides, plotted and point-marked with all of the necessities you’ll require, such as lodging, construction zones, gas stations (TripTik is the first online mapping tool to provide users with both locations and fuel prices!), events, area attractions, or auto repair shops. The fully-interactive program also allows travelers to view AAA-approved lodging ratings, pricing and availability all in one step.

For the hour and a half jaunt that we tested using TripTik, we printed 13 pages of information. We also printed out the one-page overview, which was most useful on our predominantly back-road drive, where gas stations and restaurants were far and few.

Read the full article.

For more auto & travel advice for this summer, check out RTM's Advice & Tips.