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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:

Road trips are as much about snacking in the car as they are about the trip itself! Here are some tasty snacks to have along for the ride. Or, if you're watching what you eat while you're on the road, then check out "How to Eat Carefully While on a Road Trip."

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, Real McCoy’s Snax are available on as well as a variety of natural food retail stores around the country and retail for $2.99/bag.

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 Target 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 20, 2014

Three Reasons You Should Be Driving a Hybrid

Fuel efficient carsYou don’t have to be a pious Prius driver (but it sure helps) to enjoy the benefits of hybrid technology. Thanks to Toyota for sharing this animated infographic that shows all the ways driving a Toyota Prius has benefitted the environment.

Continue reading "Three Reasons You Should Be Driving a Hybrid " »

August 18, 2014

Good Practices for Today's Drivers

ASE_Womens_Consumer_Confidence__woman_With_Technician-077Driving is a daily task for most of us, and staying safe on the road is important. Your car is also likely one of your largest investments, so taking care of it should just be common sense.

However, when you spend so much time in your car, it can be easy to overlook even the most basic safety and maintenance issues. These are great habits to get into so that your car will serve you well for years to come, and yet overlooking these simple tasks are some of the most common mistakes drivers make.

Continue reading "Good Practices for Today's Drivers" »

August 15, 2014

Breastfeeding Moms: Have You Ever Pumped in the Car?

Baby oh baby the places ive pumpedAugust is National Breastfeeding Month, and AskPatty recently interviewed Y.N. Farkus to discuss her humorous book “Baby Oh Baby The Places I’ve Pumped.”

You knew that once you had a child nothing would ever be the same. But in your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine strapping on a breast pump in a car or trying to sneak bottles of pumped milk through airport security? I did!

Continue reading "Breastfeeding Moms: Have You Ever Pumped in the Car?" »

August 13, 2014

AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Carnival for August 2014

YOKOHAMA_ADVAN_SPORT_ASYokohama Tires Promises the Ultimate Drive
Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/SWhat is a tire to a driver? Is it the trusty co-pilot? The fraction of a second between a fender and a bender? The buddy who won’t change the radio station on you? In Yokohama’s new microsite,, the company takes a strong visual approach by putting all of the focus on the tire and celebrating the many things a tire is to a driver.


AskPatty In the News: attends Car Care Council Women's Board Summer Meeting's CEO Jody DeVere and several of our automotive experts attended the summer meeting in San Diego for the Car Care Council Women's Board.  Other special AskPatty affiliates included Amy Mattinat, owner AutoCraftsman and President of the Car Care Council Women's Board, Paula Lombard of AutoTexPink Wiper Blades, Bogi Latenier who stars in the Velocity cable TV show All Girls Garage and is owner of 180Auto, and Certified Female Friendly shop owner Maryann Croce of Croce's Transmission Specialists.
The Car Care Council Women’s Board is comprised of auto care professionals dedicated to providing opportunities, education and career leadership to women in the auto care industry. 


Jody_DeVere_Headshot_photoJody DeVere CEO Featured in Automotive News Article: 
Fine-tuning the pitch to women: Cadillac, Nissan and Others Are Talking Differently to Women -- and Portraying Them Differently As Well
A study by Greenfield Online for Arnold’s Women’s Insight Team shows that three quarters of women feel misunderstood by carmakers. Jody DeVere, CEO of, a Web site that provides automotive advice for women, said that while some automakers are “making wonderful progress” in reaching women, “others are still in the dark ages,” overlooking segments such as baby boomer women, a group she says has the strongest purchasing power but is nonetheless underrepresented in advertising.


AskPatty_and_ASE_ask_how_Well_Do_You_Know_your_carAskPatty and ASE Ask: "How Well Do You Know Your Car?" Survey
AskPatty is partnering with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to create a Customer Confidence Index, and we’d like your answers on a few simple questions.
Won’t you please take our quick and easy survey?

AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Partners in the News:

Wade_BryantWade Bryant's Auto Repair and Service Center of Bend, Oregon
Congratulations to Wade Bryant's for celebrating 30 years in business!
Wade's is a family owned, full service, AAA approved, automotive repair and maintenance facility serving the Central Oregon area since 1984 with consistent, quality and friendly service. Visit Wade Bryant's for all of your maintenance and repair needs, for all makes and models of import and domestic cars, trucks and SUVs. We are a friendly, clean and efficient shop. We understand that sometimes car repair can be stressful and we do everything possible to make customers feel welcome, comfortable, and satisfied with their service experience.


Westside_Tire_and_service-10373483_690079034394888_6151172970934191592_nWest Side Tire & Service of Youngstown, Ohio
West Side Tire & Service is doing a back-to-school donation event to help get supplies for the schools for the kids that can't afford them. They're collecting school supplies all month long and will be donating them to local schools.
West Side Tire and Service, Inc. (WST) was born out of a passion for the American automobile when founded in the spring of 1978 by the Rogenski brothers, Bernard, Richard and James. The combination of fast, expert service and large selection of tires and parts quickly earned the Rogenski’s a reputation for providing high quality, honest car care.
WST is an industry leading tire retailer that specializes in more than just mounting and balancing tires. Their ASE certified technicians provide services that include brakes, alignments, engine diagnostics, replacement shocks/struts, oil changes, preventative maintenance and much, much more, with three locations in the Youngstown area.


Campus_Automotive-Christmas_in_july-10245421_810773782288844_5400064736440401816_nCampus Automotive of Blacksburg, Virginia
Campus Automotive participated in the first annual "Christmas in July" community event with their local Chamber of Commerce. The event featured more than 30 vendors presenting activities, workshops, demonstrations, story time, wine tastings, dancing, and other fun activities.
Since 1979, Campus Automotive has been providing top quality auto repair, maintenance and towing services to our wonderful customers in Blacksburg, VA and the surrounding local communities. We are a family owned and operated full-service auto repair shop, and are completely committed to providing friendly, high quality automotive services at fair prices!
All of our auto repairs come with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, so you can be confident bringing your vehicle to Campus Automotive. In addition, we offer free Wi-Fi in our waiting area and a free shuttle service to get you where you need to go.


Walks_service_center-10489825_899187013430393_828263953416353137_nWalk's Service Center of State College, Pennsylvania
The friendly staff of Walk's Service Center participated in the 2014 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts by helping out as part of the Green grounds crew.
Walk’s has been serving the Centre County area for more than 30 years, as the premier auto repair & maintenance, auto body collision & repair, and towing service center in State College, Pennsylvania. We are locally owned and operated and truly dedicated to presenting our customers with a refreshingly convenient, reliable and pleasant auto repair experience. We utilize state-of-the-art technology and diagnostic equipment to handle auto repair and maintenance services on all makes and models of cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs.
For your convenience, we offer free WI-FI in our comfortable waiting area. We conduct our business with honesty and integrity, while providing friendly and professional service.
Walk's is endorsed and certified by both AAA and NAPA Auto Care Center programs as a preferred auto repair and service facility.


Auto_aid_and_rescueAutoAid Repair Center of Van Nuys, California
EncinoMom Magazine created an awesome video promoting Jack Bulko and his son David, and their Female Friendly & AAA Approved car repair shop serving Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Located in Van Nuys, California, Auto Aid is a one-stop shop for car repair and maintenance, fleet service, and smog checks. AutoAid Repair Center has been family owned and operated since its inception in 1979.


Wilhem-Automotive-Service-CentersWilhem Automotive Service Centers of Peoria, Arizona 
In its annual ranking of top automotive repair facilities, Motor Age magazine has recognized Wilhelm Automotive as one of the top ten best shops in the country. Wilhelm Auto was the only shop in Arizona among the top ten.
Motor Age, a monthly trade journal supporting independent automotive service providers by providing professional information, made the announcement of their fourth annual Top Shop winners this week. According to Motor Age, Wilhelm ‘demonstrated strengths in marketing, technology in the repair bays, customer relations and community service, among other attributes.
“We are thrilled to be nationally recognized for the values we uphold in our business every day. For 81 years, our customers and team members have been the heart and soul of our company, and we constantly strive to be the absolute best automotive repair shop in Arizona. We are especially proud that we have accomplished this as a family business for three generations,” said Chris Garman, Wilhelm Automotive General Manager.
The Top Shop selection process included the review of a thorough application that included a company profile, visual tour and information about Wilhelm Auto’s history, mission, employee philosophy, customer service and community service, among other areas. Wilhelm ranked seventh among the other repair shops from around the nation.


The_Hybrid_ShopThe Hybrid Shop (THS) Welcomes Female Customers as a Newly Certified Female Friendly® Auto Repair Facility
The Hybrid Shop (THS), a growing international network of dealers committed to providing expert care for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), has become an AskPatty Certified Female Friendly® Auto Repair Facility. THS has made a commitment to provide an experience that is what women need from an auto repair shop. THS also launched a female-focused micro-site,, that provides the tools and resources requested most by women.



Be sure to check out all the great things our Certified Female Friendly partners accomplished in July.

August 11, 2014

Bret Michaels shares his “Endless Love” for Nissan Vans

Nissan_ToughLove_Bret_FoldedArms-sI confess: I wanted to hate the concept when I received the press release from Nissan announcing their new advertising campaign featuring iconic American rock and reality star Bret Michaels serenading various Nissan vans as he joins company technicians during vehicle durability testing.

Filmed on location in 110° weather at Nissan’s Arizona Testing Center, a 3,050-acre facility in Stanfield, Arizona, Nissan said the video “gives a tough new spin to the classic ‘80s love song ‘Endless Love’ – complete with fire, smoke and an instrument panel-mounted Bret Michaels bobble head doll,” as a way to bring awareness to the more than 6,600 harsh durability tests endured by Nissan’s NV Cargo, NV Passenger, and NV200 Compact vans.  I don’t have much personal interest in Bret Michaels or Nissan’s commercial vans, so I didn’t immediately rush to watch the video, which is posted on YouTube. (The song is also available for download at Nissan’s promotional microsite )

Continue reading "Bret Michaels shares his “Endless Love” for Nissan Vans " »

August 08, 2014

Dealing with an Oil Drip

Fresh_oil_leak-20140801_161542I discovered a messy puddle of oil under my car last week.

This is where I confess that -- even though I’ve spent nearly 30 years in the automotive industry -- I didn’t know what to do next.

It’s okay: You can laugh and point at the “car girl” who doesn’t know how to repair her own car. I know about these things in theory. I know how to check my oil level and tire pressure and could jump a battery or change a tire if I had to, but when it comes to real life, I rely on mechanics (and Auto Club) for the practical application of most of my car’s care.

So, when I saw the brown splashes beneath my beloved 2011 Ford Fiesta -- which has just passed its fourth birthday and has barely 45,000 miles on the odometer -- I kinda panicked. I’m a writer, not a mechanic, and I’m okay with that.

Continue reading "Dealing with an Oil Drip " »

August 06, 2014

Did You Lock Your Car? It Might Not Be Safe Enough!

Car_thief-thinkstock-155251967-sI don't know about you, but I can't walk away from my car without clicking the keyfob two or three times to make sure my car is locked. However, recent news has shown that criminals using high-tech electronic devices are still able to steal personal items from locked cars. These reports are alarming, but the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) says car owners can take some steps to protect themselves against break-ins.

The keyless entry feature on newer cars is a popular advancement that lets drivers unlock their cars with the simple click of a button on a key fob using radio frequency transmission. The convenient technology also helps prevent drivers from locking their keys in the vehicle. And I love that I can just leave my keys in my purse all the time and not have to worry about looking for them when it's time to go somewhere.

Continue reading "Did You Lock Your Car? It Might Not Be Safe Enough!" »