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8 Tips for Packing Your Car for a Camping Trip

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Everyone has felt the frustration of struggling to pack a car—including Tad Summersett, Director of Product Strategy for Private Brands at outdoor retailer REI. “I’d find myself packing and unpacking multiple times before getting everything to fit. Or sweating and frustrated as I dug through layers of tightly packed gear just to find a flashlight to set up camp,” he tells mental_floss. So he decided to do something about it. Through “years of trial and error,” he developed a strategy he dubbed Precision Packing—and by following his tips below, you can quickly and painlessly load up a car, no matter what youre packing for. “Some of these are specific to camping, but most of these tips can be applied to all types of packing,” Summersett says. “Let my mistakes save you from the unnecessary frustration and waste of time.”  

1. DON’T JUST START THROWING THINGS IN THE TRUNK.

Summersett advises laying out all the items near your car—including things that were already in your car—and assessing what you have to fit in there. And make sure that everyone has put out everything they’re planning to bring before you start packing. “Adding just one forgotten item mid-way through the job can mean starting all over, Summersett says. Once you have everything laid out in front of you, assess what all needs to fit. Then start playing Tetris—so to speak—taking into account any of your individual needs throughout the trip and upon arrival. The more you do it, the more efficient your packing becomes.”

2. START WITH A GOOD FOUNDATION ...

As with many projects, the key to packing your car is to start with a strong foundation. “Place your heavier or larger items with flat sides—like a camping cooler or camp stove, or heavier boxes when moving—and build up,” Summerset says.

3. … AND LEAVE SOME HOLES AS YOU BUILD.

It sounds counterintuitive, but leave holes and gaps as you’re packing, which you can later fill with stuff you might need along the way—like camping chairs for a roadside picnic—which youll then be able to easily slide out.

4. POSITION BAGS JUST RIGHT.

You want to make sure everything is easily accessible so you can get into everything without having to fully unload. Summersett advises doing things like turning bags so you can get to the zippers and putting lighting on the top just in case you arrive at the campsite at night.

5. UNROLL THOSE SLEEPING PADS.

Not only will unrolling your sleeping pads give you more flexibility when you’re packing, but you can also put them to work: “They can be used to hold things together,” Summersett says.

6. STRATEGICALLY PLACE THE HEAVY STUFF.

Any heavy or hard objects should be placed “below the highest point of your rear seat to prevent items from banging into your head given a sharp turn or sudden stop,” Summersett says.

7. THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING, WHEN YOU’LL ARRIVE, AND WHAT YOU’LL NEED WHEN YOU GET THERE.

“If you’re arriving at dinnertime, have your camp kitchen readily accessible,” Summersett says. “If you’re arriving after dark, be sure to strategically place your lighting. Aside from those key items, stick to the foundation method with heavier items on the bottom and you’ll set yourself up for success.”

8. WHEN YOU’RE DONE, SNAP A PHOTO.

It will make it much easier to recreate what you’ve done for the trip home. Now hit the road!

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environment
Germany Wants to Fight Air Pollution With Free Public Transit
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images

Getting people out of their cars is an essential part of combating climate change. By one estimate, getting people to ditch their two-car household for just one car and a public transit commute could save up to 30 percent in carbon dioxide emissions [PDF]. But how do you convince commuters to take the train or the bus? In Germany, the answer may be making all public transit free, according to The Local.

According to a letter from three of Germany's government ministers to the European Union Environment Commissioner, in 2018, Germany will test free public transit in five western German cities, including Bonn. Germany has failed to meet EU air pollution limits for several years, and has been warned that it could face heavy fines if the country doesn't clean up its air. In a report from 2017, the European Environment Agency estimated that 80,767 premature deaths in Germany in 2014 were due to air pollution.

City officials in the regions where free transport will be tested say there may be some difficulty getting ahold of enough electric buses to support the increase in ridership, though, and their systems will likely need more trains and bus lines to make the plan work.

Germany isn't the first to test out free public transportation, though it may be the first to do it on a nation-wide level. The Estonian capital of Tallinn tried in 2013, with less-than-stellar results. Ridership didn't surge as high as expected—one study found that the elimination of fares only resulted in a 1.2 percent increase in demand for service. And that doesn't necessarily mean that those new riders were jumping out of their cars, since those who would otherwise bike or walk might take the opportunity to hop on the bus more often if they don't have to load a transit card.

Transportation isn't prohibitively expensive in Germany, and Germans already ride public transit at much higher rates than people do in the U.S. In Berlin, it costs about $4 a ride—more expensive than a ride in Paris or Madrid but about what you'd pay in Geneva, and cheaper than the lowest fare in London. And there are already discounts for kids, students, and the elderly. While that doesn't necessarily mean making public transit free isn't worth it, it does mean that eliminating fares might not make the huge dent in car emissions that the government hopes it will.

What could bring in more riders? Improving existing service. According to research on transportation ridership, doing things like improving waits and transfer times bring in far more new riders than reducing fares. As one study puts it, "This seldom happens, however, since transport managers often cannot resist the idea of reducing passenger fares even though the practice is known to have less impact on ridership."

The same study notes that increasing the prices of other modes of transit (say, making road tolls and parking fees higher to make driving the more expensive choice) is a more effective way of forcing people out of their cars and onto trains and buses. But that tends to be more unpopular than just giving people free bus passes.

[h/t The Local]

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Here's How Much Traffic Congestion Costs the World's Biggest Cities
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Traffic congestion isn't just a nuisance for the people who get trapped in gridlock on their way to work, it’s also a problem for a city's economy, City Lab reports. According to a study from the transportation consulting firm INRIX, all that time stuck in traffic can cost the world’s major cities tens of billions of dollars each year.

The study, the largest to examine vehicle traffic on a global scale, measured congestion in 1360 cities across 38 countries. Los Angeles ranked number one internationally with drivers spending an average of 102 hours in traffic jams during peak times in a year. Moscow and New York City were close behind, both with 91 lost hours, followed by Sao Paulo in Brazil with 86 and San Francisco with 79.

INRIX also calculated the total cost to the cities based on their congestion numbers. While Los Angeles loses a whopping $19.2 billion a year to time wasted on the road, New York City takes the biggest hit. Traffic accounts for $33.7 billion lost by the city annually, or an average of $2982 per driver. The cost is $10.6 billion a year for San Francisco and $7.1 billion for Atlanta. Those figures are based on factors like the loss of productivity from workers stuck in their cars, higher road transportation costs, and the fuel burned by vehicles going nowhere.

Congestion on the highway can be caused by something as dramatic as a car crash or as minor as a nervous driver tapping their brakes too often. Driverless cars could eventually fix this problem, but until then, the fastest solution may be to discourage people from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

[h/t City Lab]

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