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2012 Weekend Fun Guide

Tips and tricks for travelers

Car games, apps that save you cash at the pumps, fun facts, and more.

‘WHAT IS A WEEKEND?’

So asked Downton Abbey’s Lady Grantham. More important: Who came up with it?

Downtown Abbey’s Lady Grantham.

Nick Briggs

Downtown Abbey’s Lady Grantham.

EVERYONE KNOWS Alexander Graham Bell dreamed up the telephone and Al Gore created the Internet. But who do we thank for that greatest of mankind’s inventions: the two-day weekend? As it turns out, lots of people. In the early 1900s, American labor unions waged strikes for a 40-hour workweek. Meanwhile, Jewish-immigrant factory workers were making it clear that their Sabbath, Saturday, should be a day off, just like Sunday was for Christians (in response, a New England factory became the first to adopt a two-day weekend in 1908). Ironically, those two groups were given a boost by Henry Ford, a friend of neither unions nor Jews but a big fan of making money. He worked to build an early market for his newfangled automobiles among his employees, paying relatively high wages (so they could afford the cars) and, beginning in 1926, giving them Saturdays and Sundays off (so they’d have the free time to use them). Ford’s gambit worked, and the weekend road trip has been a staple of American life ever since.  

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— Francis Storrs

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70% of people will take a trip that involves a car.

istockphoto

70% of people will take a trip that involves a car.

AND THE SURVEY SAYS . . .

Selected findings from the Newton-based website TripAdvisor’s recent summer-travel survey of 1,800 people.

> Places we’re going

(not mutually exclusive)

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City 58%

Ocean 41%

National park 20%

Lake 18%

Resort 16%

> How we’re getting there

7o% Will take a trip that involves a car

64% Will take a trip that involves a plane

> How much we’ll spend

27% Will spend more money than in summer 2011

47 % Will spend the same

26% Will spend less

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TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS

Two apps that can save you cash at the pumps.

GasBuddy The free app crowdsources gas prices with about 500,000 user-submitted reports a day. Be sure to carry cash, though, because prices at many of the cheapest stations jump when you pay with plastic.

Fuel Finder It costs $2.99, but the developer of this Apple-only app promises hefty savings (some $300 in one example it touts online). The app also includes other details about service stations, such as whether they have ATMs and food marts.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN

But this time with fewer “Are we there yet?” questions, thanks to classic games.

> License Plate Bingo

What you need: Pens or pencils and fame boards (Find a printable one at scholastic.com/play/print/license_print.htm.)

How you play:

1) Before you leave, fill out the 25 spaces on game boards with state names.

2) Players call out license plates as they see them and cross out the ones they have on their boards.

3) The first player to get five in a row wins.

istockphoto/globe staff photo illustration

“99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”

> “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”

What you need: A strong singing voice and aspirin (optional)

How you play:

1) Sing, in unison: “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.

Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall.”

2) Sing 97 more verses, reducing bottle number each time, until . . .

3) “1 bottle of beer on the wall, 1 bottle of beer.

Take one down and pass it around, no more bottles of beer on the wall.

No more bottles of beer on the wall, no more bottles of beer.

Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of beer on the wall.”

4) Repeat if you must.

> I Spy

What you need: Good eyesight and, if you’re driving, the ability to guess without taking your eyes off the road

How you play:

1) The first player picks an object in or around the car that is visible to everyone — a bridge, another car, the GPS stuck to the dash — but doesn’t tell the others what it is.

2) The player says “I spy with my little eye something ___,” filling in with adjec-tives. For instance: “I spy with my little eye something long and yellow” for a school bus (or a banana).

3) The first person to guess correctly goes next.

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Does inflating your tires improve gas mileage?

istockphoto

Does inflating your tires improve gas mileage?

TRAVEL FACT OR FICTION?

Mary Maguire, Massachusetts spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association, takes on road-trip conventional wisdom.

> Inflating tires to the correct pressure improves gas mileage

“That absolutely is true,” Maguire says. Proper psi is not only safer — it ensures the best contact with the road — but “fuel efficiency is improved up to 4 percent.”

> The air conditioner sucks up gas

“Air conditioning is certainly a factor, but if you open your windows, your car is less aerodynamic,” Maguire says. “So that’s probably a wash.”

> Speed doesn’t matter, it’s the acceleration

Not true, according to Maguire. “For every 5 miles over 60 miles per hour you drive, you reduce your fuel efficiency dramatically, to the tune of 24 cents a gallon,” she says. “Your car will be happier” at the speed limit, “and you’ll probably be a little more relaxed, too.”

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