Please bear with me over the next few days as I make some changes to the format of the blog to enhance readability. Thank you.
I’ve never liked the term “travel hacking.” The word “hack” has become associated with illegal actions, and that’s not what I shoot for. So when I refer to it here, think of it as “not-well-known tips to make your life easier.”
Waiting on hold? That’s for the Other Guy.
There are few things that are more frustrating than waiting on hold for 45 minutes for an airline representative while a cheerful voice tells you how much they appreciate your call. In the past, there were always workaround numbers, including at least one number at American Airlines that allowed you to skip the queue entirely, long since disconnected.* Elite status will often get you to a special group of representatives, or at least toward the front of the line, but a good dose of weather will extend holds, even at those lines. Here are a few options to use, instead:
- Go Espagnol: Even if you don’t speak Spanish, there’s nothing to stop you from pressing #2 to speak to a Spanish-speaking representative. They all speak English and, while they may handle overflow from the main line when their is no one in queue for them, you’ll get priority when someone becomes available.
- Call Outside the Country: If there is weather in New York, the US lines are probably tied up. But if you call the UK number (or France, or Germany, etc.) listed for your airline, you may get right through. Added bonus: most airlines have toll-free international numbers, so you won’t pay a fortune in charges. Be sure to check at the airline’s site.
- Get a Call Back: Most large companies, airlines included, will allow you to press a button to receive a call back. I’ve found their estimates of call-back times to be pretty good and have used the service before. If the airline doesn’t have such a service, try one such as lucyphone.com.
Jailbreak a Hotel Thermostat
Any marriage counselor will tell you that there are numerous stresses that cause conflict between partners: money, the kids, etc. As a layman, however, I’d like to add a few others, including traveling with children, assembling furniture from Ikea and controlling the temperature. There’s nothing I can do about the first two, but for number three…
The thermometer is a constant source of frustration in our household. I like the temperature around 60-degrees, while my wife likes it around 80. Thus, we keep it at 70, so everyone can be equally miserable. On the road, however, you may face the opposite problem, a hotel thermostat that won’t allow you to set the temperature above or below certain pre-set levels. Fear not, however: there is a way to get around those limits. Simply follow the instructions here and/or watch the short video to see an easy method to get around those pre-set governors.
Hack the TSA
No, this is not a thread about how to sneak illicit objects through the checkpoint, although history would show that that’s not a particularly difficult task, anyway. Rather, there are a few ways to get some basic necessities past the nude-o-scope.
- Bring a Bottle of Water Through: You can easily bring a bottle of any size through security. The issue, of course, is what’s in the bottle. Nothing to stop you from bringing an empty bottle through, however. Note: Formula and breast milk are considered medically necessary liquids and are allowed through in any size. It will make your life a lot easier, however, if you separate the baby’s food ahead of time. Is it a stupid rule? Yes. Is it the way the world works? Unfortunately, yes. If they violate your rights, however, don’t take it lying down.
- Store Your valuables before getting to the checkpoint: The worst place for your phone, wallet or jewelry is in one of those plastic buckets, where it is available for sticky fingers to grab. Instead, stick them in an inner pocket in one of your bags before getting to the checkpoint, where passengers and TSOs will give you nasty looks as you struggle with your gear. Note: You should be able to keep an eye on your belongings at all times as you pass through security. Should someone tell you that you don’t have to worry because there are cameras everywhere, ask them if you can please hold their wallet as you pass through security.**
There are thousands of travel hacks available. Be sure to make your life on the road as simple as possible.
*Most large companies actually have queue-jumping numbers. Should you ever find one, guard it like Fort Knox.
**Note that theft is not limited to the guys in the blue uniforms; that stuff sits at the end of the belt for passengers to grab, also. And there are plenty of good guys. The last time I left my phone at security, the TSO hunted me down to return it. I sent a nice note to his supervisor.
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