10 Travel Tricks: MacGyver Style

You already know the advantages of TSA pre-check, rolling your clothes, and hiring local guides. This ain't that. These are serious MacGyver moves. 

1) Free airline lint rollers

When I unpack my clothes and they’re covered in dog hair, I'll usually just let it ride. Occasionally though, you gotta be on point. Luckily, all airline travelers have a lint roller at the ready. Just pull the airline baggage tag from your suitcase, wrap it around your hand sticky-side out, and roll away.

2) Phone charger in (almost) every hotel room

I usually have a USB cord in my bag. On occasion though I forget the little square plug-in doodad part. Well, most TVs have a USB port in the back. As long as you’ve got a USB cord, you can use it to charge up. No wall outlet or little square plug-in doodad part required.

3) Get yer buzz on(board)

Fun fact! You can carry your own booze through security as long as each bottle is less than 3.4 ounces (a mini-bottle of liquor is 1.7 ounces). How many little bottles can you bring? As many as you can cram into a quart-sized zip-top bag. The catch: you can’t legally drink your own stash on the plane. Now… I’m not going to tell you what to do. And I’m not going to tell you what I’ve done. But I will tell you that the airlines always seem to have tomato juice on hand. And mini-bottles are really tiny. And I’m really smooth. Here’s the official skinny, per the TSA. 

4) Wire, zip ties, duct tape

They say only time can mend a broken heart. Bullshit! Wire, zip ties, and duct tape! They’ll fix broken hearts and broken zippers too. Grab a foot’s worth of single-strand wire (the bendy kind), three zip ties, and two yards of duct tape (pull it off the roll and re-roll it around itself). Stash it all in a mint tin. Keep it in that fussy little pocket in your pack that you don’t use anyway.

5) Water glass sound system

I usually travel with a Bluetooth speaker. But sometimes I don’t want the extra weight. Other times I just forget the damn thing. That leaves me playing music straight from my phone. Grim! A better option: hit play and then drop your phone into a glass (an empty one, c’mon dude). A paper cup works too. Then lay the glass on its side for a more directed sound. It won’t be full-on booming but it’ll be significantly better than what you had.

6) Pic or it didn’t happen

If you travel a lot, or drink a lot, or both, it’s easy to confuse this week’s hotel room number with last week’s airport parking space number. Take pictures as you go and you don’t have to worry about it.

7) Cancel that cancellation fee

Most hotels, car rental places, etc. have a cancellation fee that kicks in as the reservation date approaches. Many of them, though, don't charge to move your reservation. When you've missed your window, just push the reservation back a month. Give it a few days rest. Then cancel. Cold-blooded, I know.

8) Have a 3-way!

One of the guiding principles of modern airport design is the 59,000:1 ratio. This is the ratio of travelers to power outlets in any given terminal. Having a 3-way outlet adapter on hand lets you buddy up if need be. At the hotel, it also lets you charge all your stuff in one location which means less chance of leaving something behind.

9) In-ear ear buds

The earbuds that come with your phone are fine for calls and listening to occasional music. You know what they’re not fine for? Delivering bomb-ass bass. They’re also not fine at muffling out the screaming kid in seat 17F. Full-on noise-cancelling headphones are awesome but too bulky for my svelte approach to travel. So I go with in-ear buds instead (the ones with the rubbery ends). I’ve used them as ear plugs too, without music, to sleep alongside a squawky hotel air conditioner.

10) An extra inch of legroom

Airlines keep moving seat rows closer together. They also keep jamming more crap into the seatback pocket. Just take all that stuff, the magazines and emergency cards and barf bags, and put them in the overhead compartment. It'll give you an extra inch of leg room easy. You will miss out on those very important airline magazine articles (Gloria Estefan’s Hot Take On Miami!) But your knees will thank you for it.