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Published by Mikey Green-Knighting, 2019-12-19 12:55:41

good stuff about things

AAA Insights - May_June 2019

MAY/JUNE 2019

ADVENTURE

THROUGH

AFRICA

A Self-Drive Safari
Through Namibia

Our Members’ Must-Have How To Maximize The Best Way To
Travel Accessories Credit Card Rewards Detail Your Car

1 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

Get in the car, not the line.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® members skip the counter. Join now and
earn points toward a free day.*

AAA members save up to 30% off the base rate on weekly and weekend rentals.†
Use your Club Discount Code CDP# 212 and PC# 205024 in your reservation.

Click: AAA.com/hertz I Call: 1-800-654-3080 I Visit: Your local AAA branch

We’re here to get you there.

*Valid for AAA members with new Hertz Gold Plus Rewards memberships. Join now: AAA.com/hertzgold. Activation points will be received after first paid Gold rental. Taxes and fees excluded. All Hertz Gold
Plus Rewards rules apply.
†Discount will vary depending on location, date, length of rental, car class and other factors. Discount applies to pay later base rate. Taxes and fees excluded. Promotion Code 205024 and AAA Club Discount
Code CDP# 212 must be provided at time of reservation for full-offer discounts. Offer valid for a minimum rental of one (1) day for weekend rentals and five (5) days for weekly rentals. Maximum rental of
twenty-seven (27) days. This offer is available at participating Hertz locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Age, driver, credit and qualifying rate restrictions for the renting location apply. Advance
reservation required. Offer not valid and rate change or additional fees may apply in the event of reservation modification, early/late vehicle return or if not returning vehicle to renting location. Valid on all
car classes except Hertz Dream Cars®. Offer has no cash value and may not be used with other discounts, promotions or special rates. Offer valid for vehicle pick-up through 06/30/19. Subject to availability,
blackout periods and additional restrictions. At the time of rental, present your AAA membership card or Hertz/AAA discount card for identification. © 2019 Hertz System, Inc. All rights reserved. CS 119044

Contents 8

IN EVERY ISSUE

2 LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL
DIRECTOR

17 MEMBER DOWNLOAD
24 Y OUR ADVICE

HOW TO VISIT NEW YORK CITY
WITHOUT FEELING LIKE A TOURIST

IN THIS ISSUE 12 28
22
4 H OW TO MAXIMIZE CREDIT CARD 24
REWARDS WITHOUT OVERSPENDING
Finance the perfect vacation or other dreams
by simply using your credit card.

6 A DDING VALUE TO YOUR HOME
Home renovations that are worth it

7 HOW TO FIND A REPUTABLE
CONTRACTOR
Use these tips to avoid a home renovation
horror story.

20 G ETTING THERE ON TIME
A guide to the most punctual airlines and airports

22 OUR READERS’ FAVORITE TRAVEL
PRODUCTS
Consider these items for your next trip.

26 HOW TO DETAIL YOUR CAR AT HOME
Detailing your car at home can be easy
and affordable.

28 W HY REGULAR VEHICLE
MAINTENANCE IS WORTH IT
Taking care of a small problem now
can save you big money in the long run.

FEATURES

8 FOODIE FIND: CINCINNATI
How this midwestern city quietly became
the Queen City of cuisine

12 I WANT TO GO TO THERE
NAMIBIAN SELF-DRIVE SAFARI
Sven Sundgaard shares his once-in-a-lifetime safari
adventure through some of the most remote parts
of Africa.

LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR AAA INSIGHTS STAFF

I’ll admit it. I recently got sucked into watching Tidying Up with Marie Publisher
Kondo on Netflix. And after watching several episodes, I felt the urge Scott Lugar
to use her tips for a spring-cleaning frenzy—something that was Editorial Directors
completely new to me. If you haven’t seen the show, the decluttering Ben Young
diva helps families tidy their homes and lives through the KonMari Nicole Allen Bumbaugh
Method. You are told to hold each possession in your hands and ask Director of Advertising
yourself whether it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, you thank it for its service Joseph Fernandez
and let it go. In the end, four boxes and three trash bags worth of Editors
“stuff” at my house was thanked for its service and sent on its way John C. Moyer
to a donation center. Theresa G. Medoff
Brock Johnson
Maybe you don’t want to go on a spring-cleaning rampage, but instead Creative Director
the warmer weather has given you the itch to try something new. In Susan Kilcoyne
this issue of AAA Insights, we’ve put together a collection of inspiring Senior Graphic Designer
articles to help you do just that. Perhaps you want to start by detailing Paul Stevens
your car; we’ve got some tips. If you’re looking to complete some home Contributing Graphic
improvements, our experts tell you which renovations can add value Designer
to your home, and how to find a reputable contractor. Our readers also Suzanne Duffy
provide tips for experiencing New York City like a local and share their Production Specialist
favorite travel accessories. Kimberly Jones
Business Operations
Regardless of what new thing you decide to try this season, look to Manager
Marie Kondo for inspiration: “Believe what your heart tells you when you Stephen McDonald
ask ‘Does this spark joy?’”Try something new this spring that sparks joy. Digital Advertising
Coordinator
Ben Young Colin Anderson
Editorial Director
AAA Insights MAY/JUNE 2019

2 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019 ADVENTURE

THROUGH

AFRICA

Sven Sundgaard Shares
His Self-Drive Safari
Through Namibia

Our Members’ Must-Have How To Maximize The Best Way To
Travel Accessories Credit Card Rewards Detail Your Car

1 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

STAY CONNECTED

Go to AAA.com/Insights
to read the digital edition
wherever you are.

Contents may not be reproduced
in whole or in part unless expressly
a­ uthorized in writing by AAA Insights.

We’d love to hear your feedback!
Share your thoughts with us at:
[email protected]

AAA Insights
1 River Place
Wilmington, DE 19801



How to Maximize
Credit Card Rewards

WITHOUT OVERSPENDING

By Benjamin Szweda

The miles and points that credit card companies bestow
on their cardholders can seem to put dream travel
destinations within reach and soften the blow to your
wallet that booking last minute can cause. You can even
reach your destination in first class on a lie-flat bed if
you know how to maximize both earning and redeeming
miles and points. But can you do it without creating
financial problems?

EARN WITH CAUTION
When it comes to earning miles, it’s essential never to spend
money you ordinarily would not. In other words, don’t overspend
just for the sake of earning rewards. If you have to meet a
minimum spend on a credit card to receive a sign-up bonus, consider purchasing gift cards to a store
where you shop frequently. Be sure to check first that this is allowed by the credit card’s terms.

Similarly, while it may be enticing to use services like Plastiq to earn even more miles for paying
mortgage or tax bills with your credit card, ensure you are not losing value by paying a fee or surcharge.

Remember, too, that the credit cards that offer the best rewards often have the highest interest rates. It’s
best to pay off your entire bill every month, especially on cards that charge high interest rates. Just one
month of interest can wipe away any rewards you may have earned.

HOW TO ACCUMULATE MILES AND POINTS
Getting started is simple. You just need one credit card. If you have a favorite airline that you fly all the time,
consider that brand’s card. If you are a buy-the-cheapest-ticket type of traveler, consider a bank-issued card,
as the points earned by those cards can be redeemed with multiple airlines and hotels. Either way, any card
you sign up for will likely earn rewards at least at a one-to-one ratio: one point or mile per every $1 you spend.
You can also buy airline miles outright. Airlines will sell you their miles for cash and sometimes throw in a
bonus. For example, you can buy 20,000 American Airline miles for $590. Currently, you will get an additional
5,250 miles free, though the offer is subject to change.

There are two things to watch out for when it comes to buying miles. First, don’t purchase miles unless
you have an immediate use for them, as their worth can change suddenly as fares fluctuate. Second, it’s

4 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

essential to understand the cost of acquiring the miles. In the above scenario, each mile cost 2.3 cents
($590/25,250). To figure out the cost, just divide what you paid by the total number of miles you
receive. The key to sweet spot redemptions is to get more, or at least equal, value out of your miles
than it cost you to earn them.

MAXIMIZE YOUR EARNING POTENTIAL
To maximize earning rates and set off on your dream vacation even faster, you should be aware of
any category bonuses your credit card offers. In addition to earning at a one-to-one ratio, some
cards offer categories that will earn miles or points at an increased rate. For example, you might
receive two miles for every $1 spent at gas stations or four times the points at restaurants.

Review the benefits section of your card agreement and make a list of such bonuses so you can use
the right card for each purchase. Taking advantage of category bonuses means you’ll earn points or
miles faster, and get that much closer to the reward you want.

REDEEMING
If you’re going to turn miles into a reward, taking the time to do some simple math will save you
from cashing in hard-earned miles for headphones or a magazine subscription worth much less.
Some quick calculations can help you figure out if the reward is a good value or if you’re better
off purchasing the ticket or item outright and saving your rewards points for a better return.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 5

ADDING
VALUE TO
YOUR HOME

Home Renovations That Are Worth It

By Benjamin Szweda

Even if you haven’t yet found your forever home, you can still make renovations to your current
house so it suits you better now—and makes it more marketable when you’re ready to sell.

MAJOR RENOVATIONS
Cleveland-based realtor Tim Brown advises that kitchens and baths are the best renovations to undertake to
add value to a home.

However, the cost for a complete renovation of a kitchen can easily reach $30,000—or much more if you choose
pricey finishes, fixtures and appliances. If you don’t have that much to spend on one project, or you’d rather
spread your budget across multiple spaces, there are smaller projects that can still add value to your home.

MINOR UPGRADES
Research done by Remodeling Magazine suggests that it’s easier to recoup the cost of a minor upgrade than
a major one. Depending on the location of your renovation and the details of your project, you might recover
80 percent of your remodeling expenses when you go to sell.

New faucets and lighting are easy upgrades to make. For changes a bit more intensive, but shy of a full kitchen
remodel, try updating the backsplash tiles, replacing flooring or refinishing cabinets.

Brown recommends choosing “whites and gray schemes for cabinetry.” And, for added pop, making “the center
island another color, such as a dark blue or even stained dark woods.” For a backsplash upgrade, Brown adds,
“subway tiles with dark grout are always a plus, as are gold drawer and cabinet pulls.”

Throughout the home, Brown recommended “replacing carpeting with hardwood or wood laminate.” Instead
of a complete bathroom redo, consider replacing shower and sink fixtures, lighting, tile or flooring. Swapping
in a new vanity—a double vanity if you have space—is also a smart change that adds value.

REFURBISHMENTS TO AVOID
Regardless of the renovation you are undertaking, Brown warns against making highly personalized changes,
noting that if the updates you make are really trendy “that it could be overdone and look dated in time.”

Unless you plan to sell before the current trends fade away, “don’t be so taste-specific that it hurts. Try to stay
neutral” in color and design selections. For additional ideas, view pictures of homes that just sold in your
neighborhood or ask a local realtor what they see on local buyers’ wish lists.

6 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

How to Find a Reputable Contractor

By Benjamin Szweda

Contractor horror stories are pretty common. From jobs dragging on far beyond contract terms
to projects being abandoned unfinished, these nightmare scenarios are more frequent than you’d
hope. Luckily, these three websites can help you find a reputable contractor and lessen your chance
of a bad experience.

ANGIE’S LIST
Angie’s List is an easy-to-use website that lists providers of all trades. Filter results by provider type, and then answer a
few questions about your project. Provide your contact information, and Angie’s List will show you several contractors,
overall ratings and detailed reviews from prior customers. Providers listed as “Angie’s List Certified” have paid the
website, and the company’s owner passed a background check.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a contractor search option with result filters available by distance and BBB Rating. The
presence of reviews may be limited, but you can at least check to see if any complaints were filed and how they were resolved.

THUMBTACK
Thumbtack has an extensive database of providers. Search by service and location to view local businesses’ profiles,
which contain reviews, an overall rating and information such as years in business. Quotes can be directly requested
from the contractor if desired.

MAKING A DECISION
Before you select a contractor, ensure they have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. There are one-
page documents the contractor can show as verification.

Also, inquire if the contractor will provide lien waivers when you make payments. This will ensure the contractor pays
their subcontractors and suppliers and that no lien will be placed on your house. As the process continues, make sure
all permits are being pulled. Many cities place this responsibility on the homeowner, not the contractor.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 7

FOODIE FIND

By Ben Young

FROM TOP: Nestled in the rolling hills of the Ohio River valley, Cincinnati is a city
where not only state lines intersect, but Northern and Southern cultures
SELECTION OF collide. American Express, Travel + Leisure and the New York Times
OYSTERS AT BOCA have all identified Cincinnati as a top travel destination over the past
year, and it’s no wonder — the city’s quiet but dramatic revitalization
COURTESY OF BOCA efforts have paid off, with energized downtown and Over-the-Rhine
neighborhoods showcasing some of the best attractions the city has to
ROTISSERIE HALF offer. Over the past few years, small restaurants featuring notable chefs
BIRD & PARMESEAN including Jose Salazar and Jean-Robert de Cavel have become a staple
TRUFFLE TATER TOTS of the city. Pick any neighborhood, and you’re sure to find a collection
AT REVOLUTION of dining options to satisfy any palate. The Queen City has quickly
ROTISSERIE developed a big culinary scene with mouthwatering dishes showcasing
the best that Northern and Southern cultures have to offer.
COURTESY OF REVOLUTION
ROTISSERIE

ASSORTED DESIGNER
COOKIES AT
BONBONERIE

COURTESY OF BONBONERIE

8 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

ONE OF THE MANY
DELECTABLE
CREATIONS YOU
WILL FIND AT
ORCHIDS AT PALM
COURT

COURTESY OF ORCHIDS
AT PALM COURT

THE IMPRESSIVE ART DECO DINING
ROOM AT ORCHIDS AT PALM COURT

COURTESY OF ORCHIDS AT PALM COURT

ORCHIDS AT PALM COURT in the region to earn AAA’s prestigious Five Diamond
The crown jewel of Cincinnati dining is Orchids at Palm Award in 2019, and the hotel has been ranked Hilton’s
Court, located in the historic Hilton Netherland Plaza. Number One Food and Beverage Hotel in the United
The building is one of the best examples of art deco States five out of the last six years.
architecture in the country, and the luxurious dining
room is the epitome of Jazz Age elegance. You’ll feel like BOCA
Jay Gatsby sharing the company of Daisy when you dine Known for its steak, seafood and pasta dishes, Boca is a
beneath the lofty ceiling decorated with gilt plaster and classy yet cozy restaurant with a sophisticated flair that
ornate frescoes of angels, Apollo in his chariot and classical makes it the perfect choice for special occasions. Chef
scenes of 18th-century ladies and gentlemen. and owner David Falk’s seasonal menu might include
creative dishes like beef Wellington with prosciutto, wild
The menu changes daily and presents highly mushroom duxelles and black truffle; branzino with
sophisticated dishes made with local produce, such as bouillabaisse and saffron garlic foam; gnocchi fondata
smoked sturgeon chaud-froid, pan-seared lamb loin with black truffle and taleggio fondue; and chestnut soup
with macaire potatoes and roasted halibut with vin royale with foie gras, prosciutto de parma, fennel, Yukon
jaune sauce. To create these culinary masterpieces, potatoes and bacon. The dessert menu might include
the restaurant harvests from its own herb garden dishes like foie gras macaron and coconut pannacotta,
and beehives on the roof. The desserts are something but Boca’s take on Ohio’s classic buckeye dessert
extraordinary. We highly recommend you try the shouldn’t be missed; it features a brownie with feuilletine,
chocolate velvet cake with bourbon mousse. peanut nougat, opera glaze and peanut butter gelato.
With a wine list that seems to be getting bigger and
Orchids at Palm Court’s attention to detail is what makes better every day, Boca’s atmosphere and pristine culinary
the dining experience remarkable. It’s the only restaurant creations are sure to please.

ENJOY THE
COMFORTABLE,
YET LUXURIOUS
DINING ROOM
AT BOCA.

COURTESY OF BOCA

BOCA'S BEEF
WELLINGTON

COURTESY OF BOCA

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 9

SALMON WITH A HONEY GLAZE
IS A STAPLE AT COZY'S CAFE AND PUB.

PHOTO BY COZY'S CAFE AND PUB

THE CARROT CAKE AT BONBONERIE FEATURES
THE PERFECT BALANCE OF FLAVORS.

COURTESY OF BONBONERIE

BOUQUET rafters and pipes providing a original location in the Over-the-
Across the river from downtown relaxed setting for enjoying Rhine neighborhood adjacent to
Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky, delicious farm-to-table fare. Cozy’s the revitalized Washington Park or
Bouquet has quickly become challenges any expectations of its second location in the bohemian
known for its monthly four-course suburban dining that you may have neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge,
tastings and a menu supported by had, and the seasonally adjusted the restaurant prides itself on its
more than 50 local farmers. With a menu draws heavily upon local hormone- and preservative-free
small dining room and bar boasting produce, some of which is grown Amish chicken used creatively in
an extensive list of wine and on-site. Consider starting your meal nearly all of its dishes. You can order
bourbon selections, the restaurant’s with baba ghanoush and toast, the the spit-roasted chicken by white
menu changes frequently. Start charcuterie plate or maple-bourbon or dark quarter or half—complete
your dinner with a small plate, such pork belly. Favorites on the dinner with some crisp skin and tender
as the Mother Board—featuring menu include crab cakes with white meat, roasted to perfection.
four cured meats, five cheeses and a fried green tomatoes, buttermilk Be sure to pair it with some sides.
multitude of accompaniments—or fried chicken and braised short Tater tots, including a version with
the flatbread topped with Kentucky ribs. The cast-iron scallops with parmesan and truffle; Brussels
ham and cured egg. Your main fingerling potatoes and jalapeno sprouts with plenty of butter and
course could include a cleverly bacon creamed corn also do lemon; mac‘n’cheese; and glazed
conceived dish of duck confit with not disappoint. Round out your carrots are all great options. The
Kentucky mushrooms or a seriously dining experience with what can chicken is also used in“chitas”—
hefty tomahawk pork chop with only be described as a delicious chicken sandwiches made on fresh
breakfast radishes and bourbon “slab” of carrot cake that will easily grilled pita. Named after notable
almond cream sauce. A menu feed two or three people. Cozy’s revolutionaries, favorites include the
mainstay is the Black Hawk Farm brunch menu features a real taste Nelson Mandela (black beans, pepper
Wagyu burger, served on a brioche of the South, with chicken and jack cheese, corn chips, cilantro,
bun with melted onion, sauerkraut, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and tomato and chipotle ranch) and the
pimento cheese and house pickles Southern eggs benedict with grilled George Washington (arugula, feta
accompanied by potatoes. andouille and fried green tomatoes. cheese, cucumber, tomato, onion and
tzatziki). The poutine makes a great
COZY’S CAFÉ AND PUB REVOLUTION ROTISSERIE starter and is served over tater tots
About half an hour outside of Revolution Rotisserie proves that instead of traditional French fries, and
Cincinnati in Liberty Township, rotisserie chicken can be used to can be topped with chicken, braised
Ohio, lies a converted farmhouse create a wide variety of creative and short rib and egg for a new take on
with concrete floors and exposed delicious entrees. Whether at its classic comfort food.

10 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

ENJOY A CREATIVE MARKSBURY FARM PORK CHOP
SELECTION OF
COCKTAILS AT FROM BOUQUET
COZY'S CAFE
AND PUB. One of Cincinnati residents’favorite dishes at
Bouquet is the Marksbury Farm Pork Chop,
COURTESY OF COZY'S featuring sweet potato spaetzle, braised
CAFE AND PUB cabbage and rye crumbs. You can make
Chef Stephen Williams’ delectable creation
BONBONERIE in your own home with these steps.
Entered via Madison Road, it’s a
café where you can enjoy afternoon BEER-BRAISED CABBAGE
tea, a pastry or a delicious quiche.
From the back entrance located off INGREDIENTS
a small roundabout, it’s a world- 3 cups purple cabbage, sliced thin
class vintage bakery that feels like 1 tbsp oil
home and specializes in beautiful 1 tbsp mustard
and delicious cupcakes, brownies, 1 tsp onion powder
handcrafted bars, pastries and 1 cup beer
classic desserts. Whether you’re in salt to taste, plus an extra pinch
the mood for lemon shortbread,
macarons, a salted caramel cupcake DIRECTIONS
or a caramel crumb bar, your sweet In a hot pan, add oil. Once oil is hot, add cabbage, onion powder, mustard and a
tooth will be instantly satisfied at pinch of salt. Sweat until cabbage starts to get soft, about 10 minutes. Add cup
BonBonerie. Our recommendation? of beer and allow to cook away completely while stirring occasionally. Allow to
Try the opera cream torte, the cool and set aside.
bakery’s signature cake for over
30 years. The double chocolate- RYE CRUMBS
chip cake is filled and iced with
BonBonerie’s to-die-for opera INGREDIENTS
cream filling, and then covered with 4 slices day-old rye bread
a rich chocolate glaze and Belgian
chocolate shavings. Garnished DIRECTIONS
with white chocolate buttercream Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rye bread in oven until deep golden, about
rosettes and white chocolate 12 minutes. Allow bread to cool. Pulse in a food processor until pea-sized
diamonds, it’s no wonder this cake crumbs are formed.
is one of the most popular wedding
dessert options in the Cincinnati SWEET POTATO SPAETZLE
area. Be sure to check BonBonerie’s
monthly cake and torte flavor INGREDIENTS
menu, where you’ll discover 1 large sweet potato
favorites like raspberry Chantilly 1 egg
torte and death-by-chocolate cake. 1 tsp black pepper
4 cups flour
6 quarts water
salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and roast until flesh is
tender — about an hour and a half. Allow sweet potato to cool. Scoop out flesh
and puree in a food processor until smooth. Add egg, black pepper, flour and salt.
Pulse until incorporated to make spaetzle dough. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.
Using a ribbon spatula, push spaetzle dough through the holes of a cheese grater
into the hot water. Allow to cook for 1-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove
the spaetzle from the hot water and into an ice bath.

PORK CHOPS AND MEAL PLATING

INGREDIENTS
4 pork chops

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a hot pan, add pork chops and sear each side
for two minutes. Place in the oven until the internal temperature of the pork
reaches 145 degrees. In another hot pan, add spaetzle. Sear until golden. Add
braised cabbage. Once these are hot, put them on a plate. Rest pork chops on
top of crumbs and cabbage and garnish with rye bread crumbs.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 11

I WANT TO GO TO THERE

NAMIBIAN

Self-Drive Safari

Story by Sven Sundgaard
Photography by Robert McEachren

I’ve always wanted to be my own tour guide to Bull elephant
experience a world full of magical beasts from in Etosha
my childhood dreams. A self-drive safari in the National Park
second least-densely populated country in the
world was the perfect way to fulfill this lifelong
desire. This was my once-in-a-lifetime trip to
Namibia, and I invited my close friends Robert
and Andreas to join me.

SAFARI BASICS
The self-drive safari is common practice among locals and
neighboring South Africans but is entirely different from what
most Americans picture as a typical safari. Namibia does not have an
extensive network of paved roads, so renting a fully equipped 4x4 vehicle that can traverse
the primarily dirt and gravel roads (or even sand if you’re up for a real adventure) is a must.
There are a few options for rentals. I personally used Britz, which is a large South African-
based company. The vehicles come equipped with everything you need, including sleeping
bags, pillows, cookware, a propane gas cooktop, a water tank (to refill as needed) and tents
that pop up on the rooftop of your vehicle. They even have a fridge/freezer chest in the back
of the vehicle that runs off of its own battery separate from the car’s battery and will keep
things cold for a surprisingly long time. In all, the double-cab rental cost us around $1,200
USD, including insurance.

Everyone’s preferences are different, but we tried to break up our 10 days between camping
and staying at a nice lodge every two or three nights for comfort. Most campsites are clean
and well-equipped, have communal bathrooms, showers and grill pits, and some even have
electrical charging outlets. The campsites generally run $10-$20 USD per night, and some
even have food for purchase if you are running low.

12 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

Because Namibia is sparsely populated and has a challenging infrastructure, the driving
distances between locations can take three to five hours. Unless you have a large budget and
are willing to take bush planes from place to place (which can cost thousands of dollars for a
two-week trip), driving is the way to go and the scenery of the country does not disappoint.

GETTING READY
We picked up our vehicle (which comes with a full training session) in Windhoek,
the capital of Namibia and the city with the most accessible airport for arrival.
If, like me, you’re not auto-savvy, it’s worth refreshing yourself on some
automotive basics such as fluid checks, and most importantly, how to
change and repair a tire. You will definitely change or repair one or two tires
in a two-week trip around Namibia since the roads are rough and most of
your travels will be rather remote. In 10 days, we had to repair two tires. It’s
all part of the adventure, but also keep in mind to pad your travel time a
couple of hours each day for these possible delays.

If you need to buy anything other than food, do this in Windhoek. You
will not find a mall or major store in Namibia other than in Windhoek
or Swakopmund (many hours away on the west coast).

Sven and the team
catching a morning
coffee break at one
of their favorite camp
sites, Hoada Camp

Giraffe at sunrise at the HITTING THE ROAD
Halali watering hole in We made our way to the Little Sossus campsite on day one,
Etosha National Park which is about four to five hours from Windhoek. This was our
jumping-off point for our first full day in Namibia, when we would
see the world’s tallest dunes, Sossusvlei, near Sesriem. Luckily, after
a long day of driving, we made it to the campsite just before sunset.
Our first African sunset in Namibia was incredible!

After that, we had about 20 minutes of daylight left to set up camp
and make a quick dinner. We had a good night’s rest after our
exhausting day and were up by about 4 a.m. to drive an additional
45 minutes to the Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. These
gigantic red-orange dunes, each with its own name, look most brilliant

Camping at Wereldsend,
you can hear the hyenas'
footsteps and groans
through the night.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 13

at sunrise or sunset when they cast shadows and the light colors them differently. The
dunes aren’t without other natural elements; we saw an ostrich running, and we noticed pockets
of petrified trees where water used to run. Conditions are so dry now that the trees died, but they
remain preserved among the red sand landscape.

We then drove north to the cooler, foggy Atlantic coast of Namibia and its second largest city,
Swakopmund, where we met up with a native Minnesotan who works with Save the Rhino Trust. He
arranged for us to visit Mondesa Youth Opportunities, a school for gifted children who cannot afford
educational opportunities similar to what most American students are accustomed to in public schools.
The trust partners with many area schools to help kids learn the value of protecting rhinos across Namibia
while emphasizing the rhinos’ importance to local culture.

We spent one night in Swakopmund right on the coast at the Stiltz Lodge. It was damp and cold the
following day when we set off north along the eerily named ‘Skeleton Coast.’ It can be a pretty treacherous
journey because the roads are made of salt mixed with sand, which resembles concrete but is extremely
slippery when wet. The coast earned its name from the whaling days when skeletons of whales
routinely washed up on shore. Also along the coast is the Cape Cross seal colony, which is well
worth the visit but smells horrific with thousands of seals and their droppings.

Our destination that evening was Wereldsend base camp in the western Kuenene
region, where researchers are studying African wildlife and the environment. We
camped there with special permission, which can be obtained by writing the camp
for access. The purpose of our stay in Wereldsend was to see the elusive desert
black rhino. The area is home to one of the last truly wild black rhino herds left in
the world. Most other rhinos are within national parks or game reserves—sadly
needed for their protection—but local communities and Save the Rhino Trust
have made it possible for this wild herd to continue to exist and rebound from an
extremely low number in the 1980s. Anyone can hire Save the Rhino Trust trackers
or stay at Desert Rhino Camp to get into the remote areas where these rhinos can
be found. That day, we saw giraffes, zebras and, of course, rhinos.

Later that day, we made our way to Grootberg Lodge for a couple nights of rest and
relaxation on an actual bed and enjoyed the lodge’s restaurant and pool overlooking

Purros Namutoni Whale bones on display
Mowe Bay at Cape Cross on the
Sesfontein Okaukuejo Etosha National Park Tsumeb Skeleton Coast
Warmquelle

Kamanjab Otavi Grootfontein
Kombat

Skeleton Khorixas Outjo
Coast Park Otjiwarongo

Torra Bay Okakarara

Torra Omatjete Osire
Conservancy Omaruru Hochfeld

Brandberg West Mine

Uis Otjinene

Dorob National Park

Hentiesbaai Karibib
Swakopmund Usakos

Witvlei Gobabis

Windhoek

NAMIBIA

Rehoboth

Gobabeb Namibgrens

Namib-Naukluft Solitaire Bullsport Hoachanas Aranos
National Park Strampriet

Sesriem Mariental

Maltahohe Gochas Catching a glimpse of the
world’s tallest sand dunes
Sven’s self-driving route in Namib-Naukluft Park
through Namibia.

14 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

Mother and
baby elephant
in Damaraland

the Grootberg Valley. Throughout our stay at the lodge, we tracked black rhino and desert

elephants and saw plenty of other animals with the help of a guide, which can be employed

for about $50 USD. I highly recommend using a guide—it makes locating and spotting

wildlife significantly easier than it is on your own. Dead trees in
After checking out of the lodge, we headed to Etosha National Park, probably the the sand dunes
of Sossusvlei

most visited place in Namibia. It’s an entirely different experience seeing wildlife

in a national park versus tracking them in the wild in unprotected lands. At

the national park, you’re guaranteed to spot elephants, zebras, various

antelopes and wildebeests. But even in Etosha National Park, you can

find a way to get off the beaten path. Our first campsite was at the

Halali camp in east-central Etosha, which was probably our least

favorite camp on the trip since it had so many vehicles and tents. The

upside was that camping here gave us the opportunity to go to the

Halali watering hole, which provided an incredible display of wildlife

at night, including rhinos, hyenas and even a rare leopard (very

uncommon to spot in the wild—and at night, no less). More exciting,

we witnessed a mama rhino with her calf chasing off a leopard (who

may have been just trying to get water, not the calf ).

The next day, we drove various trails to multiple watering holes, all offering their
own glimpse of different wildlife. The highlight of Etosha had to be finding lions.
They’re probably the most difficult to spot in action because they hunt at night, and
lounge in the shade by day. We were lucky enough one morning to see a pride of lions
walk in front of our vehicle as they moved from the previous night’s hunting grounds to
their lounging grounds for the day.

Zebra are We then drove clear across Etosha, a trip most find challenging to make due to the distance and
abundant difficulty, to the Dolomite Lodge in the far west part of the park, an area which had previously been
in Etosha
National restricted to visitors. We experienced more unbelievable sunsets and another opportunity
Park. to relax at a pool in the afternoon and enjoy sleeping in a real bed.

After a few days at the Dolomite Lodge, we stayed at the Etosha Safari Camp,

just south of the park gates. It was an excellent spot for our last night in

Namibia, as it featured local musicians and green grass – something

we hadn’t seen much of throughout the journey. This was a great

spot to be situated to drive only three hours (which you’ll

find in Namibia is a short drive) back to Windhoek. To see more photos
of Sven’s Namibian
It seems like a whirlwind, but we completed our self-drive safari and
circle of nearly 1,500 miles in 10 days. his other adventures,
visit his Instagram
@explorewithsven.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 15

NAMIBIAN

Self-Drive Safari

Before you head to Namibia for your own self-drive safari, check out Sven’s
tips to ensure a stress-free adventure.

• T he best time to go is in August or September because it’s the end of the dry
season in Nambia, so the animals are most likely to congregate at the few
sources of water that exist, making wildlife spotting easier.

• Get a cigarette lighter charger with multiple outlets to charge your devices
while you’re driving for hours, as you may not have electric to hook into at
some of the campsites.

• Be sure to pack as light as possible. You will be dusty and dirty the majority of your time
in Namibia, so there’s no need for constant changes of clothing since you won’t be able
to keep up with the environment.

• At the end of the dry season (end of the Southern Hemisphere winter), the weather gets
hot by day (80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit), but remarkably cool at night (into the 40s and
50s). So, having some hoodies and sweats isn’t a bad idea for the late evenings and early
mornings. 

• R efresh your automotive repair skills and try changing or repairing a tire at home. You
can even consider bringing a tire repair kit. Your vehicle will most likely have two spare
tires and a jack.

• We rented a Nissan double cab 4x4, which was fully equipped for camping. There were
three of us, and this was just enough room considering our bags, food and camping
supplies. While you might think you can seat three to five people in that large of a
vehicle, remember all the gear you’ll be traveling with. I recommend a double cab for
even two people, and certainly something bigger for anything more than three people.
• Plan out meals and grocery shopping. It will save you from wasting food and over-
buying. Keep in mind that you will pass locations at least daily where food can be
purchased, so there’s no need to stock too much food, especially perishables.

16 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

INSURANCE ADVISOR INSURANCE MEMBER DOWNLOAD

How Marriage Affects Protecting Your Home
Your Insurance While on Vacation

The average cost of a wedding is nearly Whether your vacation takes you near or far,
$26,000—a significant investment for one these tips will help you safeguard your home
of the biggest days of your life. Marriage is a and your possessions while you’re away.
milestone that impacts everything, from your • I nvest in a security system.
living arrangement to your taxes—and even • K eep valuables locked up and out of sight.
your insurance coverage. • Use timers to turn lights on and off,
temporarily stop newspaper deliveries and
Here are a few things you may want to arrange to have your mail picked up by
consider: someone you trust or held by the post office.
Insure the bling. If you bought an • A sk a neighbor, friend or family member to
engagement ring, protect it with additional keep an eye on your home while you’re away.
coverage through a floater (a.k.a. rider) that • Don’t post about your trip on social media
may cover loss or damage. during your vacation; someone may see
your posts and then target your home while
‘Marry’ insurance policies. Once you’re you’re away.
married, insure your combined personal • C reate a home inventory in the event that
belongings on a single renters or homeowners you need to file an insurance claim; it will
policy. You could also benefit from shifting to make the claims process easier.
a single auto insurance policy, which could Check your insurance policy to review your
earn you a multi-vehicle discount. Also review coverage before you experience theft or
your policy limits to ensure you have the right damage to your property. Visit AAA.com/
amount of coverage. Insurance, or go to your local AAA Store to
speak with a AAA Insurance Agent.
Bundle up. Buying your homeowners and
auto insurance from the same company could AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 17
save you money. Consider getting a quote for a
“bundled” policy.

Look at life insurance. If it would be difficult
for your spouse financially if something
happened to you, consider life insurance to
protect them. If you and your spouse already
have life insurance policies, now is the time to
review or update your beneficiaries.

Talk with a AAA Insurance Agent to review your
policies and get answers to your questions. Visit
AAA.com/Insurance, or a local AAA Store.

MEMBER DOWNLOAD MEMBERSHIP AUTO LOANS

The Gift of Safety and Savings Strengthen Your
Vehicle Purchasing
Nothing says “I care about you” like the gift of a AAA membership Power
for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or graduation.
Buying a new vehicle takes
AAA will help those you care about 24/7/365 whenever they need time, research and, of course,
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protect your loved ones on the road whether they’re the driver, a and money on your next vehicle
passenger, in their own car, in a friend’s car, in a ride share or in a rental. purchase, AAA has partnered
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And, we’ll help them save money with AAA member discounts. negotiated competitive interest
With our newest member benefit, they’ll save five cents a gallon rates on vehicle loans for
on every fill-up at a participating Shell station through 2019 when qualified buyers.
they join the Fuel Rewards program.^
When searching for a vehicle,
Give a AAA membership now, and we’ll include a free upgrade to AAA experts advise that you
AAA Plus membership.* Plus, we’ll give you a $10 gift card to the arrive at the dealership with
merchant of your choice with every gift membership you purchase.** financing in hand to gain the
advantage in negotiating
To purchase a gift for your mom, dad or grad, go to AAA.com/Gift, your deal. Carefully shop loan
or visit your local AAA Store. options and interest rates in
advance. Inching down a loan’s
^ Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Extended Gold Status offer for AAA members, you must (i) interest rate even a percentage
be a AAA member, (ii) validate your AAA membership (via AAA.com/Shell), and (iii) be a Fuel point or two can save you
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Extended Gold Status rewards offered to AAA members cannot be combined with Gold or Silver When you’re looking for your
Status rewards from any other Fuel Rewards® program offer but can be combined with other next car, turn to AAA for expert
rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any help. For more information, visit
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* Available on new Primary memberships only; current AAA members not eligible. Offer is call 800/332-5626.
for first year only; normal dues applied at renewal. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer
and/or promotion. Certain restrictions apply. Offer not available in all markets. Offer valid through AAA is not a lender and does not
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AAA MOBILE

Digitize Your Life with AAA Mobile

Technology keeps us better connected, more informed and more
responsive about everything we care about. But managing your
loyalty cards, privacy settings and the endless flow of emails can
feel like a full-time job. Don’t worry—AAA is your ally. We can help
you manage your AAA member benefits from the palm of your
hand anywhere you go with the AAA Mobile app.

Our enhanced AAA Mobile app experience provides you with quick
access to your most frequently used AAA member benefits, including
your digital membership card and requests for roadside assistance
at the tap of a finger. Plus, use our app’s interactive map to find every
AAA member discount available nearby. You can even book hotel
rooms and view guides to your favorite travel destinations.

Download the free AAA Mobile app today to try our new app
experience. Text APP212 to 87255* or visit AAA.com/OnTheGo
to download and register the AAA Mobile app.

*Message and data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help. Reply STOP to opt out.

18 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

TRAFFIC SAFETY FINANCIAL SERVICES MEMBER DOWNLOAD

Keeping Teen Drivers Safe A Way Out of the Credit Card
Debt Maze
Teens have the highest crash rates of any
group of drivers in the U.S. In fact, teens More than 40 percent of U.S. households carry credit
crash four times more often than adult card debt, at an average interest rate of around
drivers, and this crash risk increases even 16 percent. A person with $10,000 of debt at a 16
more during the period from Memorial Day percent interest rate would have a minimum monthly
to Labor Day, considered the“100 Deadliest payment of about $233. If that person paid only the
Days”on our roadways. minimum, it would take 338 months—or 28 years!—
to be debt-free, and they would have paid $12,793 in
To decrease the number of teens who interest.
experience a crash, AAA urges parents
to encourage proper driving behavior, Don’t let that scenario be your financial future. A debt
including teaching by example, and to management plan (DMP) from a nonprofit agency is
have conversations about safe driving one of the safest ways to avoid this credit quagmire.
practices. Help your teens minimize Cambridge Credit’s DMP reduces its clients’ interest
their risk—and reduce your own risky rates from 22 percent to 8 percent on average, and
behavior—behind the wheel with the clients are typically debt-free in just 48 months.
following driving don’ts.
A free debt analysis from a certified counselor can
1. Don’t use cell phones while driving. put you on the right path to potentially saving
Cell phone use is among the leading thousands in interest payments and decades of
causes of driver distraction. high monthly payments. Contact Cambridge to find
out how much you can save and how quickly you
2. D on’t carry extra passengers. can become free of debt. Call 888/842-8993 or visit
Distraction levels—and, thus, crash cambridge-credit.org/AAA.
risk—increase with more teens in a car.

3. Don’t speed. More deaths occur as the
result of crashes at higher speeds.

4. D on’t use alcohol or drugs. Alcohol
use impairs judgment and cognition—
plus, it’s illegal to drive under the
influence of alcohol or drugs.

5. D on’t drive or ride without a seat
belt. Seat belts save lives.

For more information about teen driving
safety, including resources to guide parents
in having critical conversations about safe
driving, please visit AAA.com/Foundation.

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AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 19

GETTING THERE ON TIME

A Guide to the Most Punctual
Airports and Airlines

Many people who love the idea of travel nevertheless dread the process of
getting there, especially if getting there involves flying. A recent U.S. Travel
Association survey found that an overwhelming majority of Americans hate
flying because of airport hassles and delays. Yet, when it comes to punctuality,
some airlines and airports do an exceptional job of making flying easier. OAG,
the world’s leading provider of air travel data, crunched the numbers in its
recent Punctuality League 2019 report to determine which airports and airlines
had the best on-time performance in 2018. On-time departure and arrival is
defined as a flight that arrives or departs within 15 minutes of its scheduled
arrival or departure time, a rate that includes cancellations.

20 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

Most Punctual Airports Most Punctual Airlines

OAG determined the 15 major and mega U.S. airports There’s a gap of some 10 percent between the first and
(more than 20 million passengers per year) that had the tenth place finishers on this list. Compared to 2017,
best on-time rate, and the results were geographically low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Southwest knocked
diverse. With Minneapolis, Detroit and Atlanta all being United and American Airlines out of their previous
major Delta Air Lines hubs, this may help explain why higher rankings. These changes come two years after
the airline was the second most on-time airline in the Spirit Airlines was the least reliable U.S. airline for
country in 2018. getting you to your destination on time.

R ANK AIRPORT ON TIME
PERCENTAGE

FOR 2018

1 Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) 84.02% RANK AIRLINE ON TIME
PERCENTAGE
2 Detroit (DTW) 83.84%
FOR 2018

3 Houston (IAH) 82.26%

4 Atlanta (ATL) 82.23% 1 Hawaiian Airlines 87.52%
2 Delta Air Lines 83.08%
5 Denver (DEN) 80.65% 3 Alaska Airlines 82.61%
4 Spirit Airlines 80.83%
6 Seattle (SEA) 80.58% 5 Southwest 78.20%
6 United Airlines 78.06%
7 Los Angeles (LAX) 79.95% 7 American Airlines 77.65%
8 Virgin America 77.57%
8 Miami (MIA) 79.91% 9 Allegiant Air 76.92%
10 Westjet 76.26%
9 Phoenix (PHX) 79.88%

10 Las Vegas (LAS) 79.70%

11 Charlotte (CLT) 79.51%

12 Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) 78.23%

13 Fort Lauderdale (FLL) 77.17%

14 Orlando (MCO) 76.98%

15 Chicago O’Hare (ORD) 76.67%

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL

Airlines recognize that one of the most important
things they can do is stay on time and on schedule—
not only to keep travelers happy, but also for the sake
of their bottom line. So, if you’re planning a trip and
have to pick an airline or a city for a connection, these
lists might help you stay on schedule and retain some
of your sanity.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 21

Our Readers’ Smooth Trip
Combination
FTARVAOVRIETLE Lock

PRODUCTS Retail Price:

Consider These Items $9.99
for Your Next Trip
Where to Purchase:
In a sea of travel essentials and
accessories, it can be hard to figure out Your local AAA Store, AAA.com
which items you really need—and which or most big box retailers
you’ll never even take out of the packaging.
To help you cut through the clutter, we This TSA-approved combination
asked AAA Insights readers to share some lock has numbers that are large
of their favorite travel accessories. Here and easy to read, and its bright
are their top recommendations. colors make it easier to spot your
bag on the carousel.

Smooth Trip Night Light
Charging Station

Retail Price:

$19.99

Where To Purchase:
Your local AAA Store, AAA.com or most big box retailers

Light the night and keep on charging. This nightlight can
charge two USB devices and also has a grounded plug.

22 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

GoToob Allbirds Wool Runners

Retail Price: Retail Price:

$9.99 – $25.99 $95.00

depending on size and quantity Where to Purchase:
Allbirds.com
Where to Purchase: These comfortable, extremely breathable wool
Your local AAA Store, AAA.com shoes come in a variety of colors and are perfect
or most big box retailers for travel. They tend to run small, so consider
Available in a variety of colors and in TSA- ordering up a size.
approved sizes of 1.7, 2.5 and 3.4 ounces, these
squeezable silicone tubes make it easy to travel Kao Megrhythm
with your favorite liquid and gel products and Gentle Steam Eye Mask
allow you to use every last drop in the tube.
Retail Price:
Travelon
Microscale $10.99

Retail Price: for 7 masks

$29.99 Where to
Purchase:
Where to Purchase: Amazon.com
Your local AAA Store, AAA.com These
or most big box retailers disposable eye
Avoid overweight luggage fees by getting a digital masks self-
readout of suitcase’s weight (in pounds or kilograms) warm to about
before you head to the airport. This scale is compact 100 degrees,
enough to stick in your suitcase, so you can check and they come
your bag’s weight for your return flight, too. in lavender and
citrus scents.
The mask blocks
light, while the heat and
the scent help you to relax and fall asleep.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 23

YOUR ADVICE

HOW TO VISIT NEW YORK
CITY WITHOUT FEELING
LIKE A TOURIST

by Nadine Romay

I love New York City, but this hasn’t always been the case. While I enjoyed visiting all those
iconic Manhattan landmarks, the city itself seemed too overwhelming, too noisy and too
crowded. But after multiple visits with a native New Yorker, I began to embrace the entire
experience for precisely what Manhattan should be—a vibrant, evolving place to explore.

Visiting New York City can be compared to visiting the ocean. Both are vast, beautiful and
awe-inspiring. Both are a source of food, recreation and commerce. No two visits, even to
the exact same location, will ever be the same. With both destinations, you’re an anonymous
visitor who will find it much more enjoyable to just respect your surroundings and immerse
yourself in the experience.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to feel less like a tourist and more like a short-term local.

Focus on experiencing a little slice, not the whole pie. New York City is a city of neighborhoods, each
with its unique flair. Before you arrive, decide where you want to focus your energy—Midtown, Chelsea,
Greenwich Village, SoHo, lower Manhattan. It’s much better than trying to do it all at once.

Explore with no agenda. I’ve headed to the Meatpacking District and meandered along the High Line only to
discover the Hotel Gansevoort and its relaxing rooftop bar—a welcome respite that afternoon. I’ve walked along
Madison Avenue just to appreciate the blend of classical and modern architecture. Wandering the Cast Iron Historic
District in SoHo, I discovered some great shopping without having to deal with the crowds of tourists on 5th Avenue.

24 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

Swap iconic NYC locations for less familiar sites:

• The Esplanade in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, not far from the World Trade Center
site, offers outstanding views of the Hudson River and Lady Liberty and allows you a leisurely,
crowd-free stroll among the locals.

• I nstead of Central Park, head to 6.2-acre Madison Square Park on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street for a picnic
lunch with a view of the Flatiron Building as a bonus. You can purchase just about anything you need at
any of the many local bodegas, diners or Pret-A-Manger locations.

• The New York Public Library and its “backyard” Bryant Park are well-known and worth a look, but just as
impressive is the Morgan Library and Museum just a short walk from Grand Central Station. You can also
grab an affordable lunch at its cute café.

• W hile immersing yourself in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a day well spent, so, too, is visiting The Met
Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights. You’ll see beautiful medieval art, impressive architecture
and majestic views of the Hudson River from one of its many balconies.

• W hile the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center might be a must-see on every tourist’s list during the holiday
season, one block over behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral you can enjoy a great photo opportunity, up close and
personal, in front of the beautiful tree in the courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel.

Just go with it. To visit New York City without feeling like a tourist, I recommend you just take it all in, and
allow yourself a new adventure with every visit. Wrap its energy around you; delight in the hustle and bustle;
embrace the crowds and revel in your anonymity while you soak in the sights, sounds and smells—just like a
native New Yorker.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 25

AT HOMEHow to Detail Your Car

By Matt Hill

My first car was a 1994 Acura Integra. At 16, the pride I took in driving that Acura was shown
in how spotless I kept it, inside and out. Now, 25 years later, my car is often covered with baby
food and dog hair. Although I don’t always have time to keep it spotless, having a clean car
remains a priority.

Detailing has been found to increase the resale value of vehicles by up to 15 percent, according to CarWise.
Regular deep cleans of vehicle carpets, seating and outer tires can prevent staining, grime and odors that
would otherwise become a more permanent fixture. In addition, the UV inhibitors used during the detailing
process prevent weather damage to the paint of the vehicle, and detailing of the engine bay allows for easier
maintenance in the future. The cleaning products used with detailing also act as a preventive measure since
they provide protection against future stains.

So, what does a detailing job typically entail? It normally includes a vacuum job, a wash and wax, tire cleaning,
window wash, mirror and trim cleaning, and an interior polish.

Surprisingly, detailing your car at home is both easy and affordable. Here’s what you’ll need and what it’ll
cost—if you don’t already have the necessary supplies.

26 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

VACUUM ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER CONCENTRATE
Most likely you’ll have a vacuum at home, but if not, Designed for both exteriors and interiors, this
you can purchase a medium-sized wet vac with product can be used to address any problem areas
car-appropriate attachments. $40 such as carpet stains or dirty hubcaps. $10/quart 

DETERGENT WITH WAX TIRE CLEANER
Specialized detailing car wash products often In addition to adding shine to your tires, tire cleaners
include wax mixed in with the detergent, which often include a darkening agent that can minimize
serves to protect your car’s exterior. $20/gallon fading. $5/quart 

WHEEL CLEANER GLASS CLEANER
This product dissolves dirt and brake dust with Use glass cleaner designed for vehicles, as household
minimal elbow grease. $15/quart window cleaners often contain chemicals that could
damage your windshield. $2/quart
BRUSHES, RAGS AND SPONGES
A small amount of elbow grease is unavoidable, INTERIOR POLISH
unfortunately. Microfiber mitts are a popular This will give your vehicle that new car shine.
choice. $15 $10/quart

The beauty of at-home car detailing is that your cleaning can be customized. Has your car been
through mud that mucked up the tires but didn’t add a speck to your windshield? There’s no
reason you couldn’t wash those tires with wheel and tire cleaner and call it a day.

Auto detailing at the shop will always be a full-service job, running around $50-$150 each visit,
depending on the size of your vehicle. The total cost of the products above is roughly $120,
but this is a one-time cost that will enable you to have sufficient quantities of product for many
cleans. A quart of cleaning product could provide at least 10 washes, bringing the cost of each
detail at home to just $12 or less. Choosing to detail your own car is an economical option that
allows for customization and flexibility. It requires a bit of hard work, but I’d say that the juice is
worth the squeeze.

AAA INSIGHTS • May/June 2019 27

Why Regular Vehicle Maintenance Is Worth It

By Matt Hill

The goal of car maintenance is to routinely assess and address your vehicle’s condition to
prevent more costly or damaging repairs down the road. A minor problem that you notice now
will be costlier and more difficult to repair if left unattended. For example, noise from your
brakes, a check engine light or any warning light should be addressed as soon as possible.
Continuing to drive through a shaky ride will, over time, cause more damage to your vehicle.
My philosophy on affordable car maintenance includes three main tenets: research your car’s needs, attend to
your car at home when you can and remember that safety has no price tag.
The first step to safeguarding against overpriced maintenance is to avoid a situation where a mechanic might
pressure you into too-frequent maintenance. For example, a fuel injector cleaning and engine flush is not
necessary every time you get an oil change. Take a look at your owner’s manual, where recommended timeframes
are typically provided for each major repair. I’d also recommend saving your invoices in a folder where they can
be easily referenced to remind your when you last had certain repairs, like cabin air filter replacement or brake
service. Arm yourself with this knowledge when discussing maintenance options with your mechanic.
Many routine maintenance items can be taken care of in the comfort of your own driveway. The first and most
approachable step is to keep an eye on your fluids: oil, radiator, transmission, power steering, brake and washer
fluid. These fluids can be easily checked either visually or with a dipstick, and replacement of the fluids is simple
and affordable. A quick internet search or a look through your owner’s manual will show you where you can find
each of these fluids under the hood. If you’re feeling more ambitious, maintenance items such as oil changes, tire
rotation and brake pad replacement can be done at home as well. You will need to invest in a few tools, such as a
car jack, drain pan and wrenches, but most of these can be easily found at your local auto store.
Proper tire pressure is often overlooked, but it is essential to your gas mileage and your safety. Your tire pressure
can be easily checked with a tire pressure gauge. The side wall of your tire shows the maximum pressure your
tires should be set, and air is available at most gas stations or car shops for little to no cost. Underinflated tires,
squeaking breaks and damaged headlights should also be attended to right away.
And lastly, always keep safety as a top priority. If your vehicle has experienced damage that results in a safety
concern, the repair is always worth the price tag.

28 AAA INSIGHTS May/June 2019

HOPPIN’ LOVE

Book your stay at

AAA Insights AAA INSIGHTS 866.222.1357 PRSRT STD
1 River Place AAA.COM/INSIGHTS U.S. Postage
Wilmington, DE 19801
PAID
AAA Mid-Atlantic


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