Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

December 6, 2011

Five Great: Gifts for the Road Travelin’ Gal

I’m not gonna lie, gang. Between my best friend and fam on the Atlantic and my new home on the Pacific, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this year and  frankly know more than I’d like to about this great nation’s truckstops and rest stops (Texas might have dinosaur-denying textbooks and sentence innocent people to death on a regular basis, but by gum we have the finest maintained rest areas in this good and golden land).

Although I don’t always travel IN style I like to think I travel WITH style.

For example, I’m probably the only person at that particular rest area outside of El Paso who cuddled up in the backseat of her trusty automobile using two truck stop horse blankets and a blonde mink for a pillow.

For the majority of my adult life, I harbored some serious anti-suitcase sentiment. I traveled everywhere packing only what I could fit into my great grandmother’s snug 20″ x 16″ x 8″. red crocodile suitcase.  I’d had these newfangled cases with their wheelies and whatnot, and not a single one worked the way it ought. It was like I was trailing a drunken toddler behind me, and I gave up on modern suitcases for good. Sorta.

Unfortunately, when I realized I’d be staying a month or longer away from home and I’d have to cross international borders –who might not necessarily allow exotics like crocodile into, or out of their country– I bit the checked-baggage bullet and invested in the best suitcase I could reasonably afford.

Enter the Antler “Camden” 30″ hardside spinner.

Even if I’d paid the $420 retail for this bag –I didn’t, it’s on sale at Amazon for less than half that in a variety of colors, I got white– it would have been worth every penny.

This thing corners like a Lamborghini, survived particularly brutal treatment at the hands of TSA not to mention the guy who hauled it down the 72 steps to my villa, dropping it no fewer than six times, and the various abuses and humiliations involved in all commercial air travel these days. My white one did get a little scuffed up, but the marks came off with a Lysol cloth –what, you guys don’t disinfect your luggage after God Knows Who has been handling it?– and honestly, it’s a white suitcase. It comes with the territory.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, or at least the really, really bright, I give you theStanley HID0109 HID Spotlight.

I had no idea how badly I needed one of these things until my father gave me his used one last month. I’ve used it half a dozen times since then.

First of all, this thing is as bright as the sun.

Okay, maybe not the sun, but it is as bright as anything you could ever want.

When I was in Mexico, one of the lanterns in the single restaurant in my village caught fire and exploded (whee!) and they had to turn off the breaker. My trusty Stanley saved the day so they could work their electrical-repair magic and because boys will be boys, one of the fellas pointed the lamp across the ocean at one of the Islas Coronados and I swear the light shone onto land…13 km away.

More practically, I used it to help a family whose car had broken down somewhere in…hell I don’t remember. Let’s say Arizona and to “accidentally” shine directly in the face of a creepy trucker who kept circling closer and closer as I was gassing up along I-10 well after midnight.

Incidentally, do you know why the family with the butch guy with the camo truck and the huntin’ dog in the back of the bed needed to be rescued by a Birkin-totin’ babe like myself?

Because he didn’t carry jumper cables.

I swear I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. You buy a pair, you stick ’em in the back of your car and you forget about them until you need ’em, which you –or someone– will, eventually.

I get into more arguments with women about the importance of carrying cables than I care to relate. Yes, I know you have AAA. That’s great. I do too, and I LOVE them, but I also distinctly remember having to come to my grandmother’s rescue because AAA simply did not show up. Not even after I called several times. This wasn’t in the boonies either. They just didn’t come. Ever.

To me there’s no difference in not carrying jumper cables because “That’s what AAA is for” and not learning to drive because you have someone to chauffeur you around. It’s weak-on-purpose and antifeminist and okay, perhaps I’m a little too invested, but you can bet that big butch man will go to his grave with the shame that he had to be rescued by a girl because he failed Boy Scouts 101: He wasn’t prepared.

Granted it might not be the most romantic gift, but it could be a dead useful “gag gift” when paired with some sexy lingerie or a pair of beautiful earrings hidden inside.


1) Clamp the red cable to the positive terminal on the dead battery

2) Clamp the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal on the good battery

3) Clamp the black cable to the negative terminal of the good battery

4) Clamp the other end of the black cable to a piece of solid, unpainted metal under the hood of the dead car (NOT the black terminal unless you want to reproduce the welding scenes from Flashdance)

5) Turn on the good car, let it run for a few minutes, then start the dead car. If it doesn’t work it might need a few minutes more. Once the stalled car is started let it run for at least 30 minutes.

Just remember, start with “Red Cross to Dead Cross” and work in a circle. You should only be turning one direction.

Okay, ready for something a little less butch?


There, you don’t get much girlier than Caudelie Beauty Elixir.

I love this stuff. Basically it’s a water-weight mist with extracts of rosemary, and other essential oils, plus benzoin that perks your face right up. I know my skin goes to absolute hell when I travel and I keep a little bottle of this, along with some natural tears, Five Hour Energy and some Yellow Stick in one of the cupholders when I drive. One little spritz makes me feel human again and refreshes my body and as much of my spirit as can be reached by atomized spray.

What, you don’t know what Yellow Stick is?

It’s only about the greatest thing a dollar and four cents can buy!

I first started using Yellow Stick, which is a solid tube of 100% pure cocoa butter, when I was a volunteer at the cold weather shelter and I needed something I could stick in my pocket without worrying about spillage or leakage. I needed to be able to use it on my hands, lips and any place that got dry, without it irritating my skin or smelling too strongly of anything I didn’t want on my face. Plus, it’s easy to disinfect with a Lysol wipe, which is always a plus in my borderline germaphobe book. I use it for everything now, especially my cuticles and lips, and it makes a great stocking stuffer…you know, in case the jumper cables don’t fit.


  1. Love me some jumper cables. I grew up in a hick town in the Sierra foothills and learned to drive in a pickup truck. This town, incidently, is a walking fashion crime, the kind of place where dressing up is putting on CLEAN jeans + tshirt. Anyway, I once humiliated (in the nicest way of course!) a college professor because I had not just jumper cables in my pickup but a tow strap, and I pulled his car out of a ditch. It was fun!

    Comment by Rebekka — December 6, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  2. I ALWAYS have jumper cables, but I love the rest of this list.

    Jumper cable related story, I was having ongoing problems with my car needing a jump. At the time I was renting a room in a frat house while I waited for my lease in my new city to start. I had no choice, my car would not start, AAA had to be called because no one else in the house owned a car with which to jump mine. So I call the guy and the second thing out of his mouth was “Don’t you have a boyfriend or a husband or someone in there that I can talk to?”

    The other great question was “Do you know what sandpaper is?”

    UGH. So another bonus of never calling AAA is not having to be treated like an idiot by the guy who comes to help you jump your car. (Oh and then incorrectly diagnoses the problem.)

    Comment by Shinobi — December 6, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  3. Rebekka- was that town Paradise? Good on you for helping out the poor professor. I keep offering to help people change their tires but I must look frail or something because no one lets me.

    Also- Yellow Stick might be my new favorite thing.

    Comment by Ellen W. — December 6, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

  4. AAA depends on local contractors, so their service quality varies by a HUGE amount from place to place. Jumper cables be some awesome awesome.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — December 6, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  5. The Caudelie Beauty Elixir has precisely the same effect on me, too! It’s like a miracle in a bottle!

    Comment by Ayana — December 7, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  6. Must. Get. Elixir.

    It sounds wonderful!

    Comment by Tovah — December 7, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  7. I love that you have white luggage, it’s about the most impractical thing I can think of! (Although it’s wipe clean!). I bet only you and Liz Taylor have ever bought any!

    Comment by Josie — December 7, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  8. The trunk of our car contains not only the jumper cables and lights, but also the two items that I think are basically the kit which can fix practically anything: a pair of wire cutters, a big honkin’ roll of duct tape and several wire coat hangers (like the ones form the cleaners). You can seal off a leak in a tailpipe, wire up a muffler, and rehang an exhaust system that is dragging on the ground with these items.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — December 7, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

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