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Publication: Travel Tips
Beat The Heat

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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

June 17, 2008 

Summer plans are summer plans. At some point you'll have 
to leave your central air conditioning and that pitcher 
of iced tea and hit the road. Here are a few things that 
will make your traveling in the summer heat a little more 

This week's topics include:




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Summer is the peak time for travel on North American 
highways. That means you've already got an annoying mix of 
heavy traffic, road construction, overloaded vehicles and 
short tempers crowding the roads. 

Heat the mixture, and you've got a recipe for trouble. 

So what's a sweaty traveler to do? Here are some tips:

* Hydrate or die

That's a favorite saying of a military friend of mine who 
did a tour in Afghanistan. Now he say it to his kids as he 
forces water bottles on them during baseball and soccer 

Water is the best summer beverage. Think about it, up to 60 
percent of the human body is composed of good old H2O. On a 
normal day, you lose about 2.4 liters that have to be 
replaced. On a hot day, you need to replace more. 

Always carry a bottle of water with you. In the car. While 
you’re touring an historic site. When you’re at a theme 
park. It's cheap, easy to carry and can make you instantly 
popular among less-prepared people feeling dizzy from the 

Sports drinks are a good alternative. Fruit juices probably 
come in a distant third.

You want to avoid tea, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks. 
Yeah, I know, the folks from Coke and Pepsi have you 
convinced their products have the power to eventually 
eliminate the word "thirst" from the English language. 
Caffeine can speed dehydration. If you must drink soda in 
the blistering sun, reach for the decaffeinated version.

You also want to avoid alcohol, or at least stop thinking 
about it as a refreshing beverage when you're thirsty. 
Alcohol can make the effects of dehydration worse. A cold 
beer or a frozen margarita taste great on a hot day, but 
don't use them to quench your thirst. Guzzle water until 
you're no longer parched, THEN head for happy hour. 

This approach might also keep you from draining your glass 
quite so fast. And that could keep you from ordering so many 
refills that somebody else has to drive.

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* Be a vampire

Remember the effect sunlight had on vampires in old "B" 
horror films? Their skin would smoke, maybe burst into 
flames, and eventually the blood-sucking fiend would be 
reduced to a pile of ashes.

Ultraviolet radiation has a somewhat similar effect on 
living humans. It just takes longer and is less dramatic. 
(Except, of course, for those of you who turn fire-engine 
red and are forced to walk like Frankenstein's monster after 
an hour on the beach. From your family's perspective, I'm 
sure you look very dramatic.)

So during this summer's road trip, pretend you just got a 
hickey from Count Dracula. Stay in the shade and wear sun 
block. Well-ventilated, brimmed hats offer good protection 
from the sun and can help avoid heat exhaustion. If you're 
attending an event where you'll have to be out in the heat 
for a while, some folks will even bring umbrellas to shield 
them from the sun.

* Dress like a Saudi prince 

OK, that might not always be practical. But they've got the 
right idea.

On long, hot journeys wear loose clothing that let's air 
circulate around your body. Whenever possible, wear cotton 
or other natural fibers and avoid synthetic fabrics. And,
when possible, avoid synthetic fabrics. 

* Time your trip

Many folks intend to leave for long road trips early in the 
morning, but don't end up leaving until well after McDonalds 
stops making Egg McMuffins. During the summer, make an extra 
effort to keep to your original schedule. 

If you can travel earlier or later in the day, not only will 
you avoid the crush of traffic, but the journey should be 
cooler and more comfortable. Early morning and evening are 
the best times. Mid afternoon - after the sun has peaked and 
had time to heat the ground - is the worst.

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* Don't let your vehicle get thirsty

Check all your fluid levels before leaving. 

Then check your cooling system. Make certain your radiator 
isn't clogged, and all the hoses and belts in your engine 
are working properly. Make certain you have an extra jug of 
water for your radiator. 

When driving, check the water temperature or coolant 
temperature gauge frequently. Make sure that it remains in 
the normal range. 

If your temperature gauge moves up, turn off your air 
conditioner and turn on your vehicle's heater to its highest 
and hottest setting. It will be uncomfortable, but it will 
help draw some of the heat away from the engine.

If you are stopped in traffic put the car in "park" and 
lightly step on the gas to help circulate coolant. If the 
temperature light goes on or if the gauge enters the red 
zone, immediately pull off the road to a safe spot, well 
away from traffic. Do not drive any further - not even to 
the next exit. Driving with an overheated engine can cause 
serious damage to the engine.

Never remove the radiator cap or any part of the pressurized 
system until the system has cooled. Steam and boiling water 
can spray under pressure and cause severe burns. If you can 
touch the radiator cap with your bare hand, it is probably 
cool enough to open.

* Check your tire pressure

Air pressure increases with temperature. That can lead to 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, 
estimates that proper tire inflation alone could prevent 
6,600 to 10,600 injuries each year and save 50 to 80 lives 
in the U.S. Improper inflation, especially when combined 
with heat and summer overloading, can cause undue stress on 
tires, resulting in cracking, splitting, blowouts, and 

Check tire pressure when tires are cool for the most 
accurate reading. Once on the road, inspect the tires every 
two hours or every 100 miles when driving in very hot 
weather. Air pressure increases with temperature.

Use a tire gauge, which costs a couple of bucks at an auto 
parts store, but is often more accurate than the gauge in 
the air pumps at gas stations. 

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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