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7 Great Family Road Trip Tips

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Tips for enjoying the perfect family road trip.

Now that full-body scans and pat-downs are making the skies seem a little too friendly, vacationing by car is more appealing than ever. It also helps that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has pumped nearly $27 billion into the nation’s bridges and highways since 2009. Here, Jamie Jensen, author of the best-selling Road Trip USA series (Avalon Travel)—and father to 12-year-old twins who are his frequent backseat companions—shares a few pointers on making it a fun and squabble-free ride.

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Have You Seen T+L's Best Travel Gifts for 2010?

Still not sure what to buy for those travelers on your gift list? Whether they’re nature-lovers, new parents, or nose-in-the-air fashionistas, the Travel + Leisure “Best Travel Gifts” for 2010 is here to help. Find the complete list here. Or, enjoy this a sneak peek—which just happens to feature my recommendations.

Keep Calm and Travel On

“Keep Calm and Travel On”
Inspired by the WW2-era posters that urged Brits to "keep calm and carry on," this modern update couldn't come at a better time. Worried about a TSA patdown? Keep calm, friend. And, yes, travel on. Available in several colors. Unframed: $15.95; buy 3, get 1 free; etsy.com.

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Cardboard Czech Cops Cause Crashes

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Those nutty Czechs are at it again. First it was the Velvet Revolution in the 80s. Then it was Prague as hipster-expat HQ in the 90s. And now it's cardboard cops in miniskirts.

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World's Most Expensive Countries to Rent a Car

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Boy, I thought renting a car in Atlanta was expensive when I paid more than $80 a day for a Ford Claustrophobe. But Atlanta, Georgia, has nothing on Tblisi, Georgia, where a weeklong rental will run you upwards of $1,000 per week. That is highway robbery, literally.

A new survey from travelsupermarket.com ranks the 20 most expensive countries for car rentals, as well as the 20 cheapest. Once you read the results, you'll realize there's more to fear in Africa than rowdy hippos: African nations make up half of the most-expensive list. Ireland came in with the cheapest weekly rates, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Malta. The United States was in the cheaper half of the car-hire spectrum (but not quite in the top 20) with an average weekly rate of $195.80—based on rentals from airports in Los Angeles and Orlando.

Here, then, are the results:

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The Great Chinese Traffic Jam of 2010 Is Over

Apparently China's 10-day, 62-mile-long traffic jam between Beijing and Inner Mongolia is over. The heavily trafficked highway grew even more crowded than normal starting on August 14 because of several major road construction projects. Then, at a certain point, everything came to a complete halt. Drivers?including hundreds of coal-carrying commercial truckers—lounged around the side of the road, killing time and looking for bathrooms. Locals seized upon the opportunity to sell food and water to the stranded travelers at 10 times the normal price. (Who says capitalism can't succeed in China!) Raw video from the Associated Press (above) shows the scene just before the jam freed up today.

Take note, travelers: Sometimes it just doesn't pay to cheap out and take the free road. By all accounts the toll road that parallels the stalled highway was moving along rather nicely all week. This can be helpful advice to remember whether you're driving near Beijing during the Mongolian coal harvest or tooling through France at the end of August when everyone returns to work from vacation.

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Dams, Dinosaurs & Deco: Scouting NYC Goes West

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In Flann O’Brien’s novel, At-Swim-Two-Birds, the protagonist takes a ‘vacation’ by propping a series of postcards around the wainscoting of his room and spending hours focusing on them, one at a time, while drinking to excess. When he gets out of bed at the end of the week, he feels like he’s gotten away.

While I’d never recommend such a voyage, here’s one way of getting away without leaving town. The man behind a great NYC blog, Scouting NY, is currently on a cross-country roadtrip, and his posts from the road may help you escape a little.

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Pumped Up: Gasoline Prices Rise

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Philadelphia Inquirer (AP)
|  Gasoline prices rose over the weekend in the region and nationally, AAA Mid-Atlantic said Monday.

While pump prices rose an average 2 cents per gallon for the country as a whole—to $2.74 a gallon—the average in Southeastern Pennsylvania rose just a penny, to $2.76 per gallon. In South Jersey, the average rose 3 cents to $2.56, the auto club said.

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Photo credit: iStock

Buy A Volvo, Get a Free Vacation!

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Impulse buyers rejoice! Swedish car company-turned-Ford-subsidiary, Volvo, is offering a heavily discounted trip to Sweden with a purchase of a new car (just in case you were contemplating one).

The package, which is part of Volvo's Overseas Delivery Program, includes two roundtrip tickets from major U.S. gateways on Scandanavian Airlines to Gothenburg, located on Sweden's west coast (right now, economy tickets are going for $1,100–$1,800!) and a free hotel night at the SAS Raddisson Blue Scandinavia Hotel. And, if you take a drive to, say, Oslo or another major European city, your outbound tickets will still be honored. You’ll have to book through a pre-approved travel agency (call tel. number below) to receive the free travel in addition to discounts on supplementary excursions and hotel stays.

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Fried Food and Dinosaurs on the Road to Memphis

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When my boyfriend was invited to read a story of his at the launch of the newest issue of The Pinch literary magazine, based in Memphis, I convinced him we had to go. I love the South—for its friendly locals, music, and most importantly, for its food.  Instead of spending upward of $300 on a flight, we decided to take a road trip. Surprisingly we only got lost once in 1,000 or so miles between New York and Memphis. And it was all because the ferocious beasts at Dinosaur Land distracted me from my navigatrix duties. Oops.

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Two Proposed Laws Fight Travel Fees

eTurbo News |  If you've ever been hit with a surprise fee when you rented a car or booked an airline ticket and found yourself saying, "There ought to be a law," I have some good news for you: There is. Or at least, there could be.

There could be two laws, actually. The Clear Airfares Act is a Senate bill that would require airlines and online travel agencies to disclose any additional fees before you buy a ticket. And the End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act would prohibit states or localities from collecting a discriminatory tax on motor vehicle rentals.

Just one problem: Neither of these bills have been passed.

But these proposed rules could make your next trip better, and they deserve our attention.

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