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Holiday travel tips

December 23, 1998

Make sure you're well rested, buckle up and brace yourself for delays by factoring in extra time, experts advise the millions of people who'll be hitting the highways for holiday trips over the next two weeks.

The American Automobile Association and state police officials in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania offer the following tips for safe and enjoyable holiday travel:




* Plan your route ahead, avoiding the congestion around major shopping malls and airports. Know where you are going and have an alternate plan in case of heavy traffic.

* Factor in time for delays and take your time.

* Pay attention to the road and drive defensively.

* Start your trip well rested and take a 15- to 20-minute break every few hours.

* If you're drowsy, pull over and get a motel room. If you have to keep driving, take frequent breaks. Walk around, do jumping jacks or some other form of exercise to get your blood flowing. A caffeinated beverage can help for a short time.

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* Never drink and drive. AAA's Operation Tipsy Tow is available through New Year's Day in Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. If you or a friend has had too much to drink, AAA will carry you and your vehicle home. Up to 15 miles is free, with $2.50 charged per additional mile. Call 1-800-AAA-HELP (222-4357).

If traveling by plane:




* Arrive early and have photo identification ready at the check-in counter.

* Be aware that there may be special parking and unloading restrictions.

* Label your luggage and never leave it unattended.

* Keep you carry-on baggage to a minimum.

* Consider packaging wrapped presents to be checked with your luggage. Security personnel may have to open ones carried on board.

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