Road Tripping

Remember all those family vacations in the back seat of Dad's Chevy Impala, with one hand on the Parcheesi, the other on the Cheez-Its? The editors at Wigwag magazine do, and once a month, they take us on just such a Road Trip, somewhere in the United States. The December issue, for example, tours the Christmas lights in Astoria, Queens.

It's all intended to bring us "A Picture of American Life" about real people, says senior editor Harriet Brown. Besides local hot spots, the writers reveal important details, like the best place for dessert in Prescott, Ariz. (Maude's, for "four-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter/whipped cream frosting"). Wigwag, a hybrid of the New Yorker's Talk of the Town and Highlights for adults, is available at local newsstands for $2.95.

Shopping Futures

I never, ever need help spending money while traveling, but if you weren't born to shop, "The Savvy Shopper," a newsletter dedicated to worldwide shop ops, will help you consume conspicuously. New this past March, the monthly newsletter covers the wide world of sport shopping -- clothing, crafts, collectibles and edibles.

Regular features like "Ask the Expert" examine special subjects, like collecting duck decoys and buying cashmere or perfume. There are book reviews ("Words to Shop By"); two-page "essential guides" to select cities (a recent one covered New York thrift shops); price comparison charts; and a sales column. An investment in your shopping future costs $57 for one year; sample copies are $5 apiece, or send a check for $1, plus SASE with $1.35 postage (quick -- which is the better deal?) to Hammar Publications, 12 Rambling Rd., Northport, N.Y. 11768. For more information, call 800-827-2889.TRAVEL TRIVIA

What is the longest continuous train ride in the world?

ANSWER BELOW

TRIVIA ANSWER: THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS, A SEVEN-DAY, 5,800-MILE ODYSSEY ACROSS SEVEN TIME ZONES, MOSCOW TO VLADIVOSTOK.ON SKIS: SWISS SNOW SCOOP

Yes, Virginia, there is snow in Switzerland. That's big news in a country where skiing is such serious business that there's a national hotline for the latest conditions. The past three drought years have delivered disappointing ski seasons -- with no snow to speak of before Christmas. For the moment, though, there is plenty of snow, says the Swiss National Tourist Office in New York, after a major storm on Thanksgiving. And more is predicted for this weekend. For the latest conditions, call 212-757-6336.

We asked what you collect as travel souvenirs -- and we received. And received. In one month, we've had more than 60 responses, with reports of sufficient magnets to fell a refrigerator; enough cups and saucers and silver spoons to accommodate half of Reston at teatime; and abundant tchotchkes to stoke Washington-area yard sales well into the year 2000. "One postcard? You've got to be kidding!" wrote Katherine and Richard Downs of Arlington. "After 60 years of travel, whatever's collectible, we have it." Others are still working on it: Suzanne Glaser of Rockville announced her intention to "collect one of everything in the world." So we can happily report that you are doing your share to support the local economies wherever you travel, and proving once again the law of physics and home furnishing that says that personal possessions will expand to fill the available space. For more details, turn to Page E5.