12 Places to Travel on Your Tax Refund
Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National ParkTake a trip to a desert oasis with Uncle Sam’s generous refund. A popular resort town, Palm Springs is also a short driving distance from the awe-inspiring natural wonders of Mount San Jacinto State Park and Joshua Tree National Park. 960 1280
Cut Lines With Pre-ScreeningSigning up for TSA PreCheck can save time via dedicated lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees. 960 1280
Pack SmartPros pack with clothes at the bottom and oddly shaped items such as a hair dryer and shoes on top. Pack all the jewelry you will wear that day in an outside pocket of your carry-on, and then put it on once you pass through security so you don't have to take it off and put it on again. This enables the screener to work faster, saving time and keeping you moving. Savvy travelers also carry nothing on their person: no wallet, no keys, no gum. 960 1280
Get AlertsMany security checkpoint wait times are accessible via an airport’s website. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta uses Trak-a-Line and will even email you when a line gets longer. MiFlight does the same for 50 major airports. Traffic jams can also put the brakes on smooth sailing. Check your drive time on an app like Waze, which gives you an ETA and reroutes you if there’s heavy traffic. 960 1280
Be Liquid FreeThere are plenty of TSA-friendly concentrated waterless products and collapsible refillable water bottles so that flying through security is a breeze. For example, Lush Cosmetics offers dry shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste in tablet form and solid moisturizing bars that are great for an in-flight refresher. Silicone Bubi Bottles roll up, fit in the palm of your hand and come in many sizes. 960 1280
Use Airport Apps
Flio connects you to airport WiFi connection and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.
Dress Like a Pro
Invest in a “plane outfit” consisting of classic items in dark or neutral colors made from breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere. A nice poncho, like this one from Minnie Rose, subs as a blanket and is easily packed. Shorts, flip-flops and warm-ups make you look like an amateur. No gate agent is going to randomly upgrade a passenger wearing anything that makes noise when you walk.
Mind Your MannersIf you think you’re stressed, think of the men and women who do it every day. Should an emergency occur, they’re the ones who will help keep calm and even save lives, so show some respect. Treated with courtesy, a flight attendant might even slide you a free beverage or extra peanuts. One polite gesture can go a long way, on that long 2,134 mile route from ATL to LAX. 960 1280
Contain Water DamageWater damage is one of the most common threats to phones, but a wet phone doesn’t have to ruin a trip. First, turn the phone off if it hasn’t done so automatically. Dave Dean, Founder of tech site Too Many Adapters, warns against turning it back on, since that can damage the circuit board. Next, put your phone in a sealed bag or container of dry rice for two days. It may sound like an old wives tale, but experts agree this can work as a first line of defense—although Dean feels it works better if your phone was dropped in fresh water instead of salt water. He also recommends silica beads (packets are commonly found in many food items) as another way to remove moisture from your phone. 960 1280
Deal With a Shattered Screen
If the crack is minor, place a screen cover over it, or use clear packing tape. If the screen is completely shattered, Johnny Jet, founder of travel site JohnnyJet.com, says to put the phone in a plastic bag until you can get the screen replaced. Be careful about cutting yourself on shards of glass. Phil Baker, president of the product design company Techsperts, says it costs about $100 to replace a screen, and repair stores can easily fix it.