Dear Heloise: My husband wants to rent an RV this year and have all of us go on a VACATION TO ALASKA. I'm worried. This will mean tight quarters with our two boys, ages 12 and 14. Is there any way to do this without going crazy? -- Samantha H., Fresno, Calif.

Samantha, the RV is great for eating and sleeping, but kids usually don't do well cooped up, so visit local museums, places of interest and try exploring nature in various parks.

It's also important to keep kids busy by assigning chores. One of the kids washes dishes while the other one dries them and puts them away. Someone cleans the windshield, someone sweeps the floor, and so on.

Once in a while, stay in a hotel where everyone can take long, hot showers, watch TV and stretch out.

If you're renting the RV, be sure to buy the insurance. Pack an emergency road kit and a basic medical emergency kit as well.

This is a great way to spend some quality time with your family. Just enjoy the scenery and your family, and take pictures. -- Heloise

SEND A GREAT HINT TO:

Heloise

P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE

Email: Heloise@Heloise.com

REHEATING HINT

Dear Heloise: My son found a better way to reheat leftovers in a microwave. He suggested that I make a hole in the middle so that the food on the plate looks like a doughnut. The food heats faster and more thoroughly than when I just microwave it in a heap on the plate. -- Allyson B., Lexington, Neb.

OVERRIPE BANANAS

Dear Heloise: Got overripe bananas? I use them in fruit smoothies and as a substitute for fat when making oatmeal cookies. Much better for you when dieting. -- Shirley G., Yorba Linda, Calif.

EASY CLEANUP

Dear Heloise: When painting, I line the paint tray with aluminum foil. When I'm done, I just fold up the edges and throw it away. Plastic wrap works just as well, and both will eliminate the messy cleaning of a paint tray. -- Holly N., Paducah, Ky.

PARTY PLANNING

Dear Heloise: When I have a party at my home, in the mailed invitations I enclose a self-addressed postcard for the RSVPs. At the top of the postcard I put the guest's name, and underneath I draw two squares, one for "coming" and one for "not coming." All the person needs to do when he or she receives the invitation is to complete the postcard with a check mark and mail it back to me. This method works nicely for me. -- Marylyn D., Lancaster, Calif.

WASHING SOCKS

Dear Heloise: For reasons I'll never understand, my husband loses socks, or they go astray in the laundry, so that I end up with just one sock without a mate! It was happening too often. I started to wash his socks in my lingerie bag, and presto -- no more lost socks! -- Emily E., Ellsworth, Maine