Book offers handy travel, money-saving hacks

WASHINGTON — This may sound crazy, but the key fob that unlocks your car will work better if you hold it against your cheek before you click the button.

“You get between 60 and 90 more feet of range, like if you can’t find your car in a parking lot,” says author David Pogue.

That’s one of the highly useful, often surprising tips stuffed in his new book “Pogue’s Basics: Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day.”

The book was released in November and is now a New York Times Best Seller.

Pogue, who is also founder of Yahoo Tech and a CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent, says the key fob trick really has people talking online.

“It’s turning the fluids of your head into a conductor.  Your body is an antenna for the fob.  It really works.”

The book has chapters about cars and travel, including help for nighttime drivers who get blinded by extra-bright headlights.

“Focus, as you drive, on the white line at the right side of your own lane.  And that way, your eyes remain dilated for the darkness and don’t get blinded by the oncoming lights,” Pogue says.

The fastest way to clear fog from the inside your car’s windshield in winter, he says, is to turn on the air conditioning.

“The object is to make the interior of the car closer to the temperature of the glass of the windshield and that will make the condensation stop.”

If you like to travel by plane, Pogue says many airline seats have a little-known feature.

“If you look behind you at the headrest, the outer edges of it are not attached to the back of the seat.  They in fact are designed to hinge forward, around your ears, to become a built in pillow so that your head doesn’t loll to the side if you fall asleep.”

 House and Home Tips

We all know how expensive razor cartridges are, and Pogue says an easy step will help you save money on them.

“That blade’s repeatedly exposure to water then air, then water then air, is rusting the sharp edge of the blade.  If you could prevent it from oxidizing, then those blades would last so much longer.  I mean, I’ve had cartridges last 5 months,” he says.

Pogue’s secret to extending the life of a razor is to simply dry it off after using it.

“You can either blow-dry it with a blowdryer, or I keep a little bottle of rubbing alcohol next to the sink.  I just swish the razor in the rubbing alcohol, and that instantly evaporates when you’re done.  So the blade never has a chance to rust.”

Speaking of water, Pogue says many people waste energy and money because their water heater is turned up too high.

“My suggestion is you go to the water heater in your basement and you turn it down to the hottest temperature you can stand, and no hotter.  And think of the hundreds of dollars over the years that you’ll save that way.”

Another tip has to do with those boxes of plastic wrap, aluminum foil and wax paper you probably have at home.

“There are two tabs that you’re supposed to push in with your fingers, and they make an axle.  They sort of anchor the tube — the roll — in place, so that as you pull it out it doesn’t move out of the box.  Every box has these things and no one ever notices that they’re there,” says Pogue.


“Pogue’s Basics: Life” was preceded by “Pogue Basics: Tech,” which came out last year.

Pogue says he’s planning a third book for next year.

“I’ve just decided what it’s going to be.  I haven’t told anyone yet, but what the heck.  It’s going to be ‘Pogue’s Basics: Money,’ because there are so many ways that we could be spending less and earning more in everyday life.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up