Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID? [2023]

Okay, so you messed up and don’t have an ID but you need to catch a flight. What can you do? Well, you might be surprised to find out that you still might actually be able to board the plane even without an ID.

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about getting through TSA without an ID. I’ll talk about both domestic and international flights and explain what the process is like for verifying your identity.

Can you get through TSA with no ID?

Yes, you can get through a TSA security checkpoint and board your plane without an ID. However, you will be subject to an identity verification process and also likely subjected to a heightened security screening. Keep reading below and I will break it all down for you.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

IDs accepted by TSA

Before jumping in to the steps of what to do when you don’t have a standard ID (e.g., a driver’s license), first you should make sure that you don’t have an alternative form of ID that is accepted by TSA. TSA accepts over a dozen different types of identification, so chances are you might have one of these on you already.

Below is a list of IDs accepted by TSA:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)**
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Make sure that your name used for your booking matches your ID since changing your name on a ticket can be a challenge.

**Be aware that beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state issued ID or license to fly within the US, it needs to be REAL ID compliant. They extended the REAL ID deadline many times in the past but it appears that this time, there will be no extension so make sure you are ready.

If you’ve gone through all of those possibilities and you still do not have any qualifying form of identification then it is time to go through the identity verification process with TSA. Don’t worry — it’s usually not that bad!

Different ID cards
TSA accepts a lot of different forms of ID.

TSA Identification verification process

If you have not arrived to the airport yet, do your best to arrive to the airport extra early because the verification process could take a long time.

The standard recommended time for arriving before a domestic flight is two hours so logically you would want to arrive at least two hours prior to your departure. (I would shoot for 2.5 to 3 hours prior to the flight.)

But the time required might also depend on the type of airport you are at.

If you are at a well-equipped, larger airport with lots of resources the agents there probably have more experience with this identity verification process and so the process could be much more streamlined.

That may not be the case at a much smaller, regional airport. You could imagine how long the process described below could take if you are dealing with a TSA agent who has never had to deal with the verification process before.

If you are already at the airport and just realized that you do not have your ID, hopefully you are not in a rush. If you have very limited time (30 minutes to get to boarding) there’s a chance that there will not be enough time for them to verify your identity and you may want to go ahead and just reschedule your flight if possible.

But if you do have time to spare then it could be worth it to go through the identity verification process.

Related: TSA Checklist (Tips & PDF)

Tucson international airport entrance

Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC)

If you realize that you do not have an ID your first step is to approach a TSA agent and let them know that you do not have an ID and that you would like to go through the verification process so that you can still board your flight.

They are likely going to ask you for the following:

  • Name
  • A photo
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth

They will also request for you to supply two forms of secondary ID. The secondary form of ID can take a lot of different forms and these include:

  • Library card
  • Business card
  • Social Security card
  • Student ID
  • Mail
  • Credit cards
  • Photo of an ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Prescription with your name on the label

If your wallet or ID was stolen then it would be very helpful for you to have a police report to back up your claim. If you are traveling with family members who do have an ID and you have photos of you together with them that can also help bolster your case.

The more documents you can supply, the better.

In some cases, showing some of the above documents may be enough for your identity to be verified but in other cases it might not be enough.

TSA states that, “If your identity cannot be verified with the provided documentation, you may be required to go through an alternative identity verification process, which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information, and asking personal questions to help confirm your identity.”

You may also be asked to fill out a special form.

If your identity cannot be verified then a TSA agent may resort to the Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC).

In this situation, an agent on the other side of the phone will attempt to verify your identity and possibly ask you some personal questions. They will accomplish this by running your name against a database and looking for you to confirm answers to questions.

These questions could be similar to those identity verification questions that pop up when you attempt to do something like check your credit score on Credit Karma. But they also could be more random or a little bit deeper so be prepared to jog your memory as best you can.

If you are not able to answer the questions accurately or if you simply refuse to then you will not be able to proceed through the TSA security checkpoint and therefore you will not board your flight.

It’s worth pointing out that if you are traveling with an outstanding arrest warrant and you have to go through the identification verification process there is a good chance your warrant will be discovered and you could be arrested.

Get through security

After you have verified your identity, your journey is not complete. You will still need to go through the airport security checkpoint but you can expect to have to go through heightened security.

Most likely, a TSA agent will ask you to step aside while they go through the extra security steps with you. The exact process that you will have to go through will depend on the discretion of the TSA agents but some things that you can expect to encounter include:

  • Invasive pat down
  • Thorough search of all your belongings which means you will likely have to remove objects from your luggage
  • Extra x-ray scans
  • Swabs

The process will likely be similar to what you would experience if you were to have SSSS on your boarding pass.

I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have an ID but you have TSA Pre-Check, which normally allows you to bypass the main security line. I highly doubt that they would allow you to get in the Pre-Check line but stranger things have probably happened.

Related: TSA No Fly List Explained 

TSA agent searching a man
Expect a more invasive search if you do not have an ID.

Boarding the plane

Once you get through the security checkpoint, you can finally make your way to the gate for boarding. Your boarding pass should have a note that you do not have an ID on you and that should be enough to substitute for your ID to get you on a plane.

If you want to visit an airport lounge like a Centurion Lounge typically they will ask to see your identification. It’s not clear to me if airport lounges will allow you to enter without a valid ID. But you would think that if your TSA authenticated identity is good enough for boarding an airplane, it should be good enough to stroll into a lounge.

Once you arrive at the gate area, I would recommend to quickly check in with an agent at the gate and let them know that you have a boarding pass with no ID but that you have been verified by TSA.

That should help prevent any confusion at the time of boarding just in case the agents are not familiar with how to deal with the process.

Don’t try anything “funny”

If you don’t have your ID with you or any other secondary forms of ID, you might be tempted to try to sneak your way through security or try some other type of “funny business.”

This is a very bad idea because in addition to a potential criminal violation, you could also get hit with a civil fine from TSA.

So even if you are under stress trying to figure things out, don’t make any false statements or do anything that could be construed as you trying to circumvent security.

International flights

The situation is much different for international flights. You must have a passport to leave the country in almost every circumstance. Therefore, if you do not have a passport then you will almost certainly be grounded.

If you are currently abroad and you do not have a passport you should contact the local embassy or consulate and they will be able to help you based on your needs.

In some cases, they can issue you a limited-validity passport that allows you to gain entry back into the US but does not come with full travel privileges to visit other countries. If you don’t have an ID and there is an urgent emergency you should be able to get your request expedited.


Can you get a refund if you forget your ID?

Unfortunately, most airlines will not refund your ticket if you simply lost your ID. You may be able to negotiate with them so that you can board a later flight.

What age is required to have an ID to fly?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion that has acceptable identification.

Can I travel with an expired ID?

Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date. However, TSA has made exceptions and you can read more about expired IDs here.

What counts as a secondary form of ID?

There are a lot of different types of documents that can qualify as a secondary form of ID and some of these include:

Library card
Business card
Social Security card
Student ID
Credit cards
Photo of an ID
Prescription with your name on the label

Final word

Getting through TSA without an ID requires you to jump through a few extra hoops. As long as you give yourself enough time and comply with the process, you should still be able to board your plane without major issues. However, if you are departing on an international flight you likely will not be able to board your plane without a valid passport.

How to Greet Someone at the Airport (On-Time And at the Right Spot) [2023]

Getting a greeting at the airport is one of the best feelings in the world, especially if you have been away for quite some time.

Unfortunately, greeting someone at the airport is not always so simple.

In this article, I’ll outline all of the steps you need to take to meet someone at the airport so that both you and the passenger won’t be waiting around.

Factors to consider when greeting someone at the airport

Get your timing down

The most important thing you want to have down is the timing when you’re trying to greet someone at the airport.

This is accomplished by knowing the updated flight arrival time and if there will be any extra waiting time for things like bags or immigration.

Flight arrival time

Obviously, when you are trying to greet someone at the airport you want to consider the scheduled arrival time of their flight.

But as I am sure you’re aware, some flights arrive early while some flights arrive late.

The best thing to do is to get their flight number and then utilize something like FlightAware to keep an eye on the status of the flight. It will let you know if the flight departed early or late and when it is expected to arrive.

You can also use the airline’s app or website but I’ve found FlightAware gives me updated information quicker sometimes. On these apps, you can see information like the arrival gate, which can help you find the right terminal to arrive at.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to also ask the passenger to text or call you once they arrive and take their phone out of airplane mode.

If they have bags, they should be able to tell you which baggage carousel their bags will end up at.

In addition to tracking the flight time, it will help to know a few other things about their travels like if they have checked bags and if they have Global Entry.

FlightAware screen

Do they have checked bags?

You want to make sure that you know if the passengers will have checked bags they need to pick up.

Waiting for checked bags can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes extra depending on how fast or slow things are going.

If you’re planning on greeting this person inside the airport consider greeting them at the baggage carousel so that they don’t have to wait for the bags alone. It’s actually a great place to start catching up if you haven’t seen them in a while.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Do they have Global Entry?

This only pertains to international flights but if your passenger has to go through customs and immigration in the US, it will help to know if they have Global Entry.

Sometimes customs and immigration could add on an extra 15 to 30 minutes to your waiting time but if they have Global Entry they may be able to get through in something like five minutes.

You will not be able to accompany them when going through immigration or customs but you can typically wait right outside the exit of the customs area.

Head to the right terminal

You’ll need to make sure that you are heading to the right area of the airport which is going to be the arrivals baggage claim area for the terminal that the plane is arriving in.

You can use a flight tracker app to see what gate or terminal the plane is arriving in but some airports have dedicated terminals for specific airlines. You can also follow the signs at the airport to guide you.

You’ll be looking for a parking garage or parking lot that connects to that area.

The parking situation

Typically, if you’re planning on going inside the airport to greet someone you’ll be looking to park in the hourly parking.

A lot of times this is a parking garage or parking lot located adjacent to the airport which makes it a short walk. You’ll be paying by the hour most likely but be on the lookout for garages that allow you to get free parking if you are out of there in 30-60 minutes or less.

If you have someone else in the car who is not going to head in the airport with you and then they can consider dropping you off and then parking in the cell phone waiting lot.

This is a free parking lot usually located within just a few minutes of the airport arrivals.

One thing you do not want to do is to leave your car at the arrivals area.

Even if you are inside the vehicle just waiting for the passenger to arrive, a security guard may tell you to get a move on. This can result in you taking lap after lap around the airport and wasting a lot of gas.

And you should avoid leaving your car unattended in this area at all costs. An unattended vehicle in this area could be considered a major security threat and you could get yourself involved in a pretty messy situation real fast.

Finding your passenger to greet them

Near baggage claim, there may be one main passageway that passengers exit through and that’s where you’ll be looking for your passenger.

Sometimes you can see the sterile zone sign in that area which is a sign stating that exiting passengers can’t return past that point and you’ll see a TSA agent posted there.

You won’t be able to go through that area but you could wait somewhere nearby for your passenger to come through.

Other times, you won’t be able to get that close to the sterile gateway and you will need to wait somewhere near the carousels of baggage claim.

When the airport is busy it shouldn’t be hard to find other people lined up and waiting or holding signs with the passenger’s name. That’s typically as close as you can get.

If the passenger is coming back from an international flight you can locate the customs area and you can wait by the exit near that area so that you can greet them at the soonest opportunity.

Greeting someone at the gate

Although it might seem very old-fashioned, it still is possible to greet someone at the gate but this is definitely something that takes an extra effort.

Gate passes

One way to do this is to get a “gate pass” which is often something that people get with unaccompanied minors, military members, or special needs persons.

This pass allows you to escort someone to and from the gates (where the planes arrive and depart).

You can speak with your airline about getting a gate pass but they will likely limit gate passes to the specific instances above where people need special assistance.

But some airports also offer gate passes which will allow you to get to the gates. These are usually much less restrictive than the ones offered by the airline. You can usually find an online submission form that you will need to fill out prior to your visit. Here is an example from DTW.

Just note that getting a gate pass for international arrivals is often not possible because the passengers have to go through customs and immigration.

Book a fully refundable airline ticket

A more slightly dramatic step would be to book a fully refundable airline ticket that will give you access to the terminal that they will be arriving in.

If you know the exact gate they will be arriving at you could find a flight heading out of that terminal and purchase a fully refundable flight scheduled for a couple of hours after their arrival.

Security lines probably won’t be an issue if you have TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR, especially if you don’t have a carry-on.

As long as you cancel in time, you will not be out any money and you will be able to greet them at the gate when they arrive.

This type of thing is a grey area for airlines and if you do choose to do this you should not make a habit of it.

I would only attempt this in the most special of occasions or as a last resort when you need to be at the gate for someone who will need assistance but can’t get access for some reason.

Greeting someone with flowers or signs

At most airports, it should not be a problem to greet a passenger with flowers or custom signs.

As long as your greeting doesn’t involve any prohibited or “suspect” item, you should be able to bring it with you inside the airport.

This means that flowers should be allowed although try not to bombard the newly arriving passenger with a bunch of stuff they have to figure out how to to hold.

If you’re in need of some inspiration for a clever airport greeting sign, check out this article with lots of ideas.

Final word

When greeting someone at the airport it’s all about timing, figuring out your parking, and then making sure that you are in the right spot. If you want to take your greeting to the next level you can look into a gate pass although that is not always possible.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” Except It’s Not

If you’ve been in the travel circles for a while you know doubt have heard this quote before: “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

It has been attributed to various sources, including anonymous authors and even well-known writers like Mark Twain. However, the true origin remains uncertain.

As a devoted travel blogger who has centered his entire life around exploring the world, I feel compelled to share my perspective on why this quote falls short.

So hear me out.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”

Let’s start with defining what we mean by “richer.”

I think most of us know that when we say richer we mean richer in the sense of some form of personal enrichment and not necessarily financially wealthier (though that can be a byproduct).

The idea behind the quote is to emphasize the profound and transformative impact that travel can have on your life — intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

While investing in stocks or index funds can potentially lead to financial prosperity and, in the future, offer a sense of personal fulfillment, our focus here is on a more direct and immediate connection — an intrinsic enrichment gained through experiences and personal growth.

And the fact is that travel is definitely NOT the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

There is a wide array of purchases that can lead to personal enrichment and make your life richer in meaningful ways.

Tickets to movies, shows, sports, or concerts: Going to movies, shows, sports events, or concerts can serve as a tremendous source of inspiration, acting as a catalyst for significant life changes and personal growth. They have the power to ignite curiosity and action, motivating you to explore new interests and take charge of your life.

Courses: Purchasing courses or books and learning new skills or diving deep into a specific topic area could be incredibly enriching. The sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering something new can be immensely satisfying, and in some cases, it may even lead to financial gains. I guess you could also throw in college degrees but those are becoming suspect these days.

Hobbies and Passions: Buying materials or equipment for hobbies like painting, photography, astronomy, or playing musical instruments can provide outlets for creativity and personal fulfillment. I remember buying a special nebula filter for my telescope and being completely awe-struck by the incredible level of detail it revealed on the very first night of use. It certainly changed my view of the cosmos.

Quality Time with Loved Ones: Investing in activities or gatherings with family and friends is a valuable commitment that reaps rich rewards in terms of relationship building and social fulfillment. When we allocate time and resources to spend quality moments with our loved ones, we create opportunities for lasting memories similar to travel.

Charity and Philanthropy: Contributing to charitable causes or supporting nonprofit organizations can bring a sense of fulfillment by making a positive impact on the lives of others.

This is obviously only a sample of all the possibilities out there.

So why point out all of these things?

Am I just trying to be the ultimate buzz kill for this quote. Not at all.

I just think that as an avid a traveler it’s important to remember that, despite the pedestal we put travel on, there are other things out there in the world that can offer deep enrichment and satisfaction.

Travel will likely remain my life’s top priority because it feels like a natural calling, something I was born to do. The boundless energy and unwavering passion I possess for it just doesn’t really compare to anything else.

But I still have to remind myself that travel is not the only thing I can buy that makes me “richer.”

This really came to the forefront of my mind recently when I attended a 311 concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Despite being a favorite band from my childhood, I had never experienced the thrill of seeing them perform live until then.
Honestly, before that, I’d only been dragged to a couple of concerts by friends or family. But this time, it was different – I was finally able to attend a concert I truly looked forward to and it was in one of the most remarkable music venues in the world.

Attending the concert really sparked a burst of creativity in me that has already started to benefit me in multiple ways both in my professional and personal life. It sort of just “woke me up” and got some creative juices flowing (that really had nothing to do with music).

And in a broader sense, I started to realize the value of things outside of travel that I should not be ignoring. Instead of defaulting to “when’s the next trip?” the thinking now is more along the lines of “what’s the next experience?”

Often it admittedly does involve taking a trip but I’m for sure more open to opportunities that don’t require me to pack a suitcase.

So perhaps a better quote would be:

“Travel is one of the most enriching experiences money can buy.”

Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring to it and you’re not going to see it on posters, but it’s a better reminder that there are other incredibly enriching experiences that you can buy beyond just travel.

Using Chat GPT to Plan And Optimize Your Travels

ChatGPT is one of the most popular AI tools, and you can use it to help you optimize your travels in a lot of different ways.

From planning out your entire trip itineraries to getting the inside scoop on local delicacies, ChatGPT can save you a ton of time and act as a helpful soundboard whenever you’re trying to plan your trips.

Below, I’ll dive into several specific ways ChatGPT can be used to help you with your travels and provide you with some specific tips on how to use the prompts.

The GPT disclaimer

Before getting into some of these tips, the biggest thing to remember is that AI is still a work in progress and can sometimes provide inaccurate or outdated information when it comes to travel.

I’ve been recommended restaurants that don’t exist and have been given inaccurate information about attractions that are closed, don’t exist, etc. So, you always have to double-check whatever Chat GPT sends your way.

It’s essential to use AI tools as a helpful resource, but always verify the information independently to ensure the accuracy and reliability of your travel plans.

Finding local delicacies and restaurants

When you first visit a destination it helps to get familiar with some of the local delicacies that place is known for and Chat GPT can help you accomplish this in a hurry.

I put in the following prompt to get the scoop on the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan.

What are popular local dishes I should experience in the upper peninsula?

Chat GPT gave me an entire list of interesting local foods including: Pasty, Whitefish, Lake Superior Perch, Cudighi, Yooperlite Pudding, Jampot Products, Cornish Splits, Trenary Toast, Sautéed Morel Mushrooms, Wild Berry Pies.

For each food, it also gave me a little bit of the story behind it, so you can also get some additional context.

These results lined up pretty well with the research I had already done which means it could’ve saved me a lot of time had I just started off with Chat GPT.

Once you have a sense of the local cuisine then you can start looking for a specific restaurants. I recommend adding a couple of filters to your prompt to help you hone in on your preferences.

For example, you could use something like:

What are popular local restaurants I should experience in the upper peninsula? I don’t like seafood and do not want to eat at expensive restaurants.

That prompt gave me a whole roster full of affordable restaurants where I could avoid seafood and not break the bank dining out.

Of course, you could plug-in some of the local delicacies you learned about in the first prompt in order to find restaurants serving up special items you won’t find outside of that location.

Finding things to do that fit your personality

You can find things to do by inputting descriptions of your personality or travel preferences and letting Chat GPT do the thinking for you. Let’s take a look at a sample prompt I did for the Big Island in Hawaii.

I am visiting the Big Island in Hawaii for 5 days. I don’t like big crowds, long hikes, or doing anything too risky. I like to remain calm, relaxed, and enjoy getting a lot of sleep on vacation. I would prefer not to drive far or spend a lot of time in a vehicle. What are some things I can do?

It gave me some decent options like beach relaxation, stargazing, snorkeling, and exploring botanical gardens which I felt like was pretty in line with the personality type I described.

But it also suggested things like a scenic drive which didn’t really fit the traveler I was describing who did not like road trips. Its recommendation for a luau would also would not really fit someone who doesn’t like big crowds, unless it was a specifically small one.

Nevertheless, you can still use this type of prompt to help align your personal preferences with the options available at your destination and it can be a great launching point for creating a custom itinerary.

Budgeting your travel costs

Projecting your travel costs can sometimes be difficult.

Unless you are an experienced traveler and you know your spending habits when abroad, you can get lost with unexpected expenses, in the moment souvenirs, and possibly fall victim to scams or other ways to waste money.

But you can utilize Chat GPT to help you project your expenses.

The key with getting a good budget projection is being extremely specific. Take a look at the two prompts that I did below for Mexico City. They are very similar but the second prompt is more specific and it really impacted the projected budget.

Here is the first example that I did for Mexico City.

I am traveling to Mexico city for five days. I want to estimate the travel expenses. I already paid for my airfare but I need estimate for four nights in a luxury hotel, eating out 2 to 3 times a day, a budget for souvenirs, a rental car SUV, and one tourist activity each day.

Estimated budget: $1720 – $1770

And here is the second, more descriptive example that I did for Mexico City.

I am traveling to Mexico city for five days. I want to estimate the travel expenses. I already paid for my airfare but I need estimate for four nights in a five star luxury hotel, eating out 2 to 3 times a day sometimes at fancy restaurants, a budget for premium souvenirs, a rental car large SUV, and one tourist activity private tour each day.

Estimated budget: $3960 – $4060

That budget range is over two times as big as the first budget but that’s because I was much more specific with each budget item, so take that into consideration.

Whenever you request a budget like this, Chat GPT will itemize the expenses and it is relatively good at doing so especially for things like accommodation and rental cars. But if you’re not specific with things like tours, souvenirs, and dining, the estimates can be a bit useless because they can vary so much.

Another way to do the budget breakdown is to just tell Chat GPT how much money you have and where are you are going and then just see what it does.

Here is the prompt that I did:

I am traveling to Oahu for four days. I have $8000 to spend and I would like to max out my budget. Breakdown a potential budget for me.

Here is the budget it gave me:

  • Accommodation: $1600 – $3200
  • Dining: $400 – $800
  • Transportation: $300 – $500
  • Activities and Sightseeing: $800 – $1000
  • Spa and Wellness: $300 – $500
  • Shopping: $500 – $800
  • Miscellaneous and Tips: $200 – $300

Total: $4100 – $7100

I was very generic with the request (just to see how it would handle the request) but I did a pretty good job overall. And again, the idea is to use these figures as a starting point for fine-tuning your budget.

Crafting itineraries

Possibly the most impressive thing that Chat GPT can do to help you optimize your travels is helping you craft custom itineraries.

If you know approximately how long you will be in a given location and some of the things you want to do then you can use Chat GPT to craft your entire itinerary. Like everything else, the more information you give it the better.

Here is an example that I did for Denver.

I am going to be in Denver for three days. I would like to see a great museum, spend some time outdoors, and eat at a couple of great local restaurants. I will be working one of these days and will only have a couple of hours to explore but the other days I will be free for the entire day.

And this is what it gave me:

Day 1 (Working Day):

  • Morning/Afternoon: Since you’ll be working on this day, use your free couple of hours to visit a nearby attraction. Consider going to the Denver Art Museum, which features an extensive collection of art from various cultures, including Native American and Western art.
  • Evening: After work, treat yourself to dinner at a local restaurant. Head to a popular eatery like The Source, a food hall offering a variety of culinary delights from different vendors.

Day 2 (Free Day):

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, known for its stunning natural red rock formations and breathtaking views. Take a short hike or simply explore the amphitheater area.
  • Afternoon: Continue your outdoor exploration by visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens. These beautiful gardens offer a serene escape within the city, featuring a variety of plants and themed gardens.
  • Evening: For dinner, indulge in some local cuisine at a restaurant like Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant, known for its Western-inspired menu and historic ambiance.

Day 3 (Free Day):

  • Morning: Use this day to immerse yourself in the city’s history at the History Colorado Center. This interactive museum showcases the state’s past through engaging exhibits.
  • Afternoon: Enjoy some leisure time outdoors by visiting City Park. You can take a stroll around the park, visit the Denver Zoo or the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, both located within the park’s vicinity.
  • Evening: Wrap up your trip with dinner at a popular local restaurant like Root Down, offering farm-to-table cuisine and a diverse menu.

That’s a nice itinerary but you may want to just focus on the bare bones and in that case just use the following prompt:

Just give me the bare essentials of the itinerary

It then spit out the following more concise bullet points which is a lot more digestible:

Day 1 (Working Day):

  • Visit Denver Art Museum in the afternoon.
  • Dinner at The Source in the evening.

Day 2 (Free Day):

Day 3 (Free Day):

  • Morning: History Colorado Center.
  • Afternoon: City Park, visit Denver Zoo or Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
  • Dinner at Root Down in the evening.

As someone who spent the summer living in Denver area, this is a pretty good three day itinerary based on what I fed it.

Packing list

Creating a packing list can be a bit time-consuming. And unless you have been iterating on your packing list over time, chances are you won’t get remember everything that needs to go in the list. Enter chat GPT.

You can use it to create a quick packing list based on your specific needs. For example, you can tell it where you are going and what you’ll be doing, if you want to pack heavy or lite, and any special things you might be bringing with you.

Here is the sample prompt:

Create a packing list for me. I am a male and want to pack lite. I will be traveling for four days in the Caribbean. I will be swimming, hiking, and going out a couple of nights. I have a GoPro and a DSLR. Present this in checklist format.

It gave me a pretty good standard list of items to consider before backing and you can easily copy and paste this into a Word document and then print it out.

Get familiar with cultural norms

When traveling to a new country, one thing you don’t want to forget to look into is the cultural norms.

You want to obviously avoid anything taboo but you also want to try to fit in as best you can.

Here is the sample prompt:

I am traveling to South Korea. What cultural etiquette things do I need to know?

Chat GPT give me a host of different etiquette norms to consider including these ten things below.

Once again, it’s a good idea to verify these things but at the very least you’ll be on notice about possible etiquette norms in different locations.

  1. Bowing: Common form of greeting; bow to show respect.
  2. Using Both Hands: Use both hands when giving or receiving items.
  3. Removing Shoes: Take off shoes in certain places, follow locals’ lead.
  4. Polite Language: Use polite language and learn basic Korean phrases.
  5. Respect for Elders: Show deference and use appropriate honorifics.
  6. Dining Etiquette: Wait for the oldest person to start eating, don’t stick chopsticks vertically in rice.
  7. Pouring Drinks: Pour drinks for others, not yourself; hold the bottle with both hands when pouring for elders.
  8. Tipping: Tipping is not common; exceptional service is usually included.
  9. Public Behavior: Practice good manners in public; avoid loud talking on public transportation.
  10. Personal Space: Respect personal space and avoid prolonged eye contact or physical contact.

Souvenir ideas

Are you someone who is interested in picking up unique souvenirs whenever you travel to a new destination? Well, how do you know what to be on the lookout for? Once again, you can utilize Chat GPT to help you get ideas for unique souvenirs.

I tested this out on Easter island and it came back with some pretty great recommendations like Moai replicas, earrings made from materials like black volcanic stone, tapa cloth paintings, Manavai Stones, and Rongo Rongo Script Reproductions, just to name a few.

You can use a straightforward prompt like:

I’m traveling to Easter Island and want to purchase unique souvenirs. Give me some ideas.

Expectations checker

One of the most important things to do when traveling is to properly set your expectations. This can dramatically reduce the frustration and let down you might encounter at some locations because you’ll be prepared for the challenges and you can go into it with the right mindset.

Chat GPT can help you do this.

I’m going to visit Easter Island. What are some potentially negative things I should be prepared to encounter there.

It came back and gave me warnings about things like limited infrastructure, limited access to protected sites, expensive prices, and a few reminders about things like the language barrier and subtropical weather.

While it did not dive as deep as an article I wrote on the challenges of visiting Easter Island, it still hit on some of the same things I talked about like limited access to sites.

I did the same thing for a visit in London and it gave me some helpful insight into things that can definitely cause issues like Tube strikes, long lines, etc.

For people who only have a surface level knowledge of a given location this can be a good way to quickly get familiar with potential turn offs.

You can also ask it “what are the most overrated attractions?”

I did this for London and it pointed out that it can be difficult to get a good view of The Changing of the Guard ceremony and that it can be extremely crowded. Once again, just giving you a heads up to set your expectations properly.

Final word

As you can tell, Chat GPT is not perfect but if properly utilized, it can help streamline your research efforts and give you some ideas you may not have thought about. As long as you remember to fact check some of its output it can be an extremely beneficial tool when planning out your travels.

The Art of Slow Travel: Embracing the Journey

Slow travel is a mindful and intentional approach to exploring the world, where the emphasis is placed on quality over quantity and savoring the journey rather than rushing from one destination to another.

It encourages travelers to immerse themselves deeply in the local culture, environment, and experiences of a place, allowing for a more meaningful and enriching travel experience.

It’s about embracing a slower pace, being present in the moment, and fostering a genuine connection with the destinations visited. And after years of largely doing the exact opposite it’s my new style of travel.

My lessons learned

When I initially started traveling, I had a strong desire to visit as many countries as possible in the shortest time frame.

This feeling was natural since I didn’t have much travel experience while growing up. And even when I did start venturing outside the US in college, I was living abroad in a single country like Mexico or Australia where I didn’t explore any other countries.

So at some point I felt compelled to make up for lost time.

As a result, we embarked on some extraordinary trips where we jetted around the world for weeks or even months, sometimes spending just a couple of days (or less!) in each country before hopping on a long flight to a new continent. It was an exhilarating way to travel, but it also presented significant challenges.

Dealing with jet lag, plane fatigue, and the various issues that arise from constant travel was not always easy and took a toll on the body.

But a bigger challenge was connecting meaningfully with those places we were visiting.

When we rushed through countries and spent only a brief time in each place, I found it difficult to form meaningful connections with the destinations.

Lots of time was spent waiting around in busy airports and getting to/from hotels. It was as if I had only glimpsed the outer layer of what each place had to offer without getting a feel for its deeper essence.

Sometimes when I reflected on the memories of certain places I’d visited all I had was a sort of fleeting memory to try to grasp at. Mere glimpses of the wonders I had encountered.

Traveling in a hurry also meant that I often stuck to the well-trodden tourist spots, missing out on the hidden gems that locals cherished. I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the local culture or truly understand the traditions and way of life.

It often left me longing for a more memorable travel experience.

The new approach and its benefits

I now take a vastly different approach to travel. A slower approach.

On a recent trip to Easter Island earlier this year we spent eight days on the island compared to many people who may only venture to the island for a few days.

I found this to be a remarkably more pleasant way to travel.

On previous trips, our days felt like a whirlwind, meticulously planned from morning till night. However, with the new slow travel approach, each day unfolded more organically, sometimes allowing for spontaneous discoveries.

For example, on a whim we spent some time just driving along the coast exploring and we randomly came across a magnificent blow hole (that kept us entertained probably longer than it should have). And then later on, we walked on a tiny secluded beach that was not mentioned in any maps or travel guides.

When we were able to see a lot of sites on those prior hectic trips, it came at a price that to be honest wasn’t always worth it.

One price was just the entire experience flying by.

It was like we blinked after stepping off the plane, and suddenly we were already stuffing our suitcases to head back home. I’ve learned that anytime I feel like life is coming at me 1,000 mph for days on end it’s usually a sign that I’m overcommitting. That’s true even if “fun” is involved.

The other problem was me just getting older.

In my 20s, bouncing around like a hyperactive kangaroo wasn’t a problem but moving around like that in your 30s hits differently.

I can’t count the number of times that I visited a destination while battling extreme fatigue or just a worn out body.

While there is something to be said about pushing through those never-ending marathons of sightseeing, at a certain point you’re not even enjoying the sites any longer and your travel becomes purely a battle of willpower which is not always so appealing.

But on Easter Island we had real downtime.

That is, we had at least half a day on a couple of occasions where nothing was planned. Sometimes this allowed us to rest and other times it allowed us to add on unexpected experiences like exploring some Moai we hadn’t seen.

I also enjoyed staying in the same hotel for several nights as opposed to bouncing around every couple of nights. You truly forget how much time it takes to transfer hotels or even catch a short flight – something that a lot of people realize when doing things like island hopping in Hawaii.

Giving ourselves more time at the destination also allowed us to embark on experiences that otherwise would be difficult to enjoy with a full schedule.

For example, on a few days we woke up around 3 AM in order to go check out some of the brilliant dark skies on Easter Island and see the celestial masterpieces of the Milky Way as well as other deep sky objects found in the southern sky.

This of course meant that we would be exhausted later on in the day due to limited sleep. But by having the extra time to rest, we could actually enjoy something like star gazing without dreading the fatigue we’d be battling later.

On another occasion, we went and enjoyed one of the Polynesian dance shows that lasted well into the night. We knew that in the past, this would have meant sacrificing precious sleep and facing a groggy morning ahead. But with a less-filled schedule it wasn’t a problem. We didn’t even set an alarm.

For culinary fans, spending extra days at a destination is a huge benefit.

On short trips, I often found myself over eating (eating when I wasn’t even actually hungry) because I wanted to try so many different places in a short amount of time. But with more time, I found myself actually developing a real appetite, complete with a growling stomach.

It’s amazing how much better you feel about your dietary choices when your appetite has a chance to catch up to your wanderlust.

It also makes it more practical to take advantage of grocery stores which is a great way to experience a destination. Nothing will make you feel more like a savvy local than picking up fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and exotic snacks that are a far cry from the usual touristy fare.

In the end, the extra time we spent on Easter Island meant that we missed out on experiencing another country and adding to the ole country count. Most likely this would’ve been Peru or Brazil where we could’ve spent probably three full days.

While I would have loved to have experienced one of those countries, the extra time meant that I got to dive deep into this island paradise, embracing the “island time” vibe that renders any attempt at a rushed pace futile in any event.

When I close my eyes and think back on my time spent on Easter Island, it’s not just fleeting snapshots that come to my mind, but a vivid and profound experience etched deeply into my memory.

Slow travel gifted me with the opportunity to go beyond the surface and truly understand the essence of this place. I recall the locals (the good and bad), the magical sunsets, the breathtaking night skies, and the thrill of tracing the ancient mysteries of moai in a way that I just wouldn’t be able to do with less time.

I truly felt like I was able to peer into the soul of the island, understanding its rhythms, and embracing its essence in a way that will forever resonate within me.

So going forward I think I’m addicted to this new type of slow travel and those fast paced travel days are now a thing of the past.

Bringing Batteries on a Plane: TSA’s Rules for Staying Charged Up [2023]

For some people, bringing batteries on a plane always feels like a guessing game.

Are they allowed in your carry-on or checked bag?

What types are okay and what types are just asking for trouble?

In this article, we will remove all of the confusion by clarifying the TSA and FAA rules for bringing your batteries whether it is in a carry-on or in your checked bag.

Can you bring batteries on a plane?

Yes, you can bring most batteries for personal use in your carry-on and through a TSA security checkpoint.

Most batteries allowed in your carry-on can also be brought in your checked baggage although you are not allowed to bring spare lithium batteries in your checked baggage.

Electronics containing lithium batteries like laptops are allowed in checked baggage but the FAA recommends putting them in your carry-on.

Approval by the airlines may also be needed for larger lithium batteries.

Below, I break down all of the different types of batteries and electronics you may think about bringing to give you even more clarity so be sure to keep reading!

3 key things to know about bringing batteries on a plane

Carry on vs checked baggage

When bringing batteries on a plane the first thing you want to think about is whether or not you are bringing your items in your carry-on or checked baggage.

There are not many restrictions when bringing batteries in your carry-on.

Aside from bringing large lithium batteries and protecting spare batteries from short circuits, you don’t really have much to worry about.

However, there are certain battery types that are completely banned from going in your checked baggage.

Also, the FAA generally discourages people from bringing electronics containing lithium batteries in checked baggage.

Not only can it be a little bit risky sometimes but you also risk theft and damage to your device so I would advise you to follow the FAA guidelines as much as possible.

Batteries inside electronics vs spares

The second major consideration is: are your batteries located inside of electronics or are they spares?

Spares are just batteries by themselves.

For example, you may have an extra camera battery that you keep in a pouch in your camera bag.

Anytime you are bringing spare batteries you need to be careful about damage and short circuiting.

Damage is usually straightforward. If you have a battery that is busted up that won’t be allowed.

But you also are not allowed to bring batteries that have been recalled or they have a tendency to create sparks or generate a dangerous evolution of heat. These are not allowed in your carry-on or checked bag.

Short-circuiting is basically whenever the ends of a battery come into contact with another battery or something metal like coins, keys, etc.

This could create sparks and heat which could be very dangerous for batteries stowed away in the baggage hold and in the aircraft cabin.

To prevent a disaster, the FAA recommends that you prevent short-circuiting by:

  • Leaving the batteries in their retail packaging
  • Covering battery terminals with tape
  • Using a battery case
  • Using a battery sleeve in a camera bag
  • Putting them snugly in a plastic bag or protective pouch

Quantity limits

Aside from large lithium batteries and nonspillable wet batteries, there are no quantity limits for bringing batteries as long as they are for personal use.

So if you are bringing batteries for further sale or distribution (e.g., vendor samples), those are prohibited.

Lithium battery covers
Battery covers can prevent short-circuiting.

Different types of batteries

Dry alkaline batteries

Dry alkaline batteries are some of the most common batteries used in electronics.

These are often your typical AA, AAA, C, D, button cell, 9-volt, etc., used in every day items like flashlights, headlamps, portable fans, etc.

Common brands include Duracell and Energizer.

Alkaline is very common but you also may have rechargeable dry batteries with nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, etc.

You can bring these dry batteries in your carry-on or checked bags whether they are inside of electronics or brought as spares.

If you’re bringing them as spares they need to be protected from damage and short circuit.

Lithium batteries

Most of the worry and confusion when traveling with batteries is related to lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries can come in two main different forms:

  • Lithium ion
  • Lithium metal

Lithium ion batteries are commonly found in popular electronics like: cell phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc.

You are allowed to bring these in your carry-on in unlimited quantities (for personal use) whether they are spare batteries or inside of electronics.

However, they must be limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery.

How do you know what the lithium rating is?

Well, newer lithium ion batteries should have their Wh marked on them.

If you don’t see it, you can still work it out by finding out the bolts and amp hour numbers using this formula: Watt hours (Wh) = Volts (V) x Amp hour (Ah).

Keep in mind some airlines will require proof of the Wh, especially for larger items.

Here are some common watt hours used in batteries for various electronics:

DSLR CameraCanon 6D11
TabletiPad Pro 12,9 ″ WiFi + Cellular (5th Gen, 2021)40.33
LaptopMacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021)99.6
Cell phoneiPhone 14 Pro12.38

Contrary to what many believe, you can bring lithium ion batteries in your checked baggage as long as they are inside of the electronic device.

So for example, you could bring your lithium-ion powered laptop in your checked baggage. (See the section below on personal electronic devices for more detail.)

You will still need to get special permission if you go above the size requirements which I’ll talk about below.

And you also need to keep in mind that certain lithium powered devices like vapes are never allowed in checked baggage.

But the biggest thing to note is that spare lithium (ion or metal) batteries are never allowed in checked baggage.

These include power banks, external battery chargers (portable rechargers), and cell phone battery charging cases

Tablets are known for having lithium batteries.

Larger lithium batteries

If you want to bring larger lithium ion batteries you have to abide by special size requirements and also get permission from the airline.

With airline approval, you can carry up to two spare larger lithium ion batteries (101–160 Wh) or Lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams).

According to the FAA, “This size covers the larger after-market extended-life laptop computer batteries and some larger batteries used in professional audio/visual equipment.”

Larger lithium laptop battery

Lithium metal devices

Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery.

These include all the typical non-rechargeable lithium batteries used in cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells.

They can be brought as a carry-on although spares are not allowed in checked baggage.

With airline approval, passengers may also carry up to two spare larger Lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams). 

Nonspillable wet batteries

Nonspillable batteries with absorbed electrolyte (gel cell, absorbed glass mat, etc.) used in portable electronic devices must not exceed 12 volts and the battery watt hour rating must not exceed 100 watt hours.

These can be brought in your carry-on or checked baggage.

Just keep in mind:

  • No more than two spare (not installed in device/equipment) batteries may be carried.
  • Spare/uninstalled batteries must be in strong packaging.
  • Battery and outer packaging must be marked “nonspillable” or “nonspillable battery.”
  • Battery-powered equipment must be protected against accidental activation.

There are separate exceptions for powered wheelchairs.

Nonspillable wet battery
Photo via

Commonly brought items with batteries

Personal electronic devices

Pretty much every traveler is walking around with multiple personal electronic devices nowadays.

These include things like: cell phones, cell phone battery charging cases, laptops, cameras, tablets, watches, etc.

If you’re electronic device has lithium metal or lithium ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) it is allowed in checked baggage but should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible.

When portable electronic devices powered by lithium batteries are in checked baggage, they must:

  • Be completely powered off
  • Protected to prevent unintentional activation or damage

If the device can generate extreme heat, the heating elements should be isolated by removing the heating element, battery, or other components.

The FAA allows you to bring in as many personal electronic devices as you want for personal use but just keep in mind the quantity restrictions on larger lithium batteries and spare nonspillable wet batteries.

Smart luggage with batteries

Some luggage comes with battery-powered features.

Baggage equipped with lithium batteries must be carried as carry-on baggage unless the batteries are removed from the baggage.

The exception to this is if the smart luggage contains lithium metal batteries with a lithium content not exceeding 0.3 grams or lithium ion batteries with a watt-hour rating not exceeding 2.7 Wh.

In those cases, it can go in checked baggage.

Battery-powered E-cigarettes (e-cigs), vaporizers, vape pens

TSA allows passengers to bring electronic cigarettes and similar devices (vaporizers, vape pens, mods, atomizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems) through airport security as a carry-on.

However, these devices are prohibited in checked baggage.

Read more about bringing vapes through TSA here.

Lithium Battery Powered Lighters

Tesla coil lighters, flux lighters, arc lighters, double arc lighters are allowed in your carry-on but not in checked baggage.

We have a full breakdown bringing lighters through airport security and you should check that out if interested.

Recreational vehicles powered by lithium ion batteries

Recreational vehicles are those battery powered hoverboards and other similar small electronics that people love to wipe out on. See YouTube.

You can bring these in your checked or carry-on bag but the airline must approve of them. Many airlines do not allow these so it’s not a guarantee.

Remember, a device with a lithium ion battery that exceeds 160 watt hours (Wh) is prohibited as carry-on or checked baggage.

Medical devices

If you have a medical device like a pacemaker with a lithium ion battery, whether implanted, externally fitted, or carried on your person, the same limits for personal electronic devices apply.

So basically there are no quantity limits unless you are carrying larger lithium batteries and spare nonspillable wet batteries.

Checking your bag at the gate or plane side

Sometimes you may have to check your bag at the gate just before departure. This usually happens whenever you are flying basic economy or have a boarding position towards the end of boarding.

If this happens, you need to make sure that the bag you are checking complies with all of the rules above.

If you get stuck in this situation my device would be to just tell the flight attendant or crew member that your bag has lots of lithium-ion items in it and you would prefer to not carry them with you in the cabin.

This may be enough for them to choose someone else over you to check their bags.

Final word

Hopefully, after reading this article you can see that bringing batteries through airport security and in your checked bag is doable.

As long as you pay attention to the size and quantity limitations and take care to prevent short-circuiting, you can bring a lot of batteries with you on your travels.

Sources: FAA chart, Packsafe

Will TSA Accept Expired, Damaged, or Paper Driver’s Licenses? Here’s What to Know.

If you’re thinking about getting through airport security but worried about getting through with an expired, damaged, or even paper driver’s license, there are certain things you want to know before arriving at the airport.

Check out the article below — complete with direct guidance from TSA — that will break down everything you need to know and put your mind at ease!

Will TSA accept expired driver’s licenses?

As of the summer of 2023, yes TSA will accept expired drivers licenses but only under certain conditions.

First, the drivers license must have expired after March 1, 2020. Second, the ID could not have been expired for longer than one year.

Since we are now a few years away from March 2020, the only criteria that matters is that your ID has not been expired for more than one year.

This policy followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic when many government agencies were shut down or had limited service making it difficult or impossible to get a license renewed in any kind of timely manner.

Since 2020, things have calmed down significantly regarding the pandemic. It’s not clear how long this “grace” policy will continue that will allow travelers to get by with an expired ID.

So far, we have not heard any updates from TSA so as of the summer of 2023, it appears you can still get through airport security as long as your driver’s license has not been expired for over one year.

Colorado ID


Over the years, you’ve probably seen articles talking about the REAL ID.

Basically, an oversimplified reading of REAL ID is that it’s just a requirement that your ID has to meet certain specifications in order for TSA to consider it a valid ID.

We put together a comprehensive breakdown of the evolution of REAL ID and how it’s many expected deadlines have been extended over the years.

However, it appears that the next deadline set for May 7, 2025, is going to be the final deadline based on all of the progress that has been made on REAL ID.

So if you don’t have a REAL ID, I highly suggest that you look into getting compliant with that because I doubt another extension is around the corner!

This is just my speculation, but it’s also possible that the one-year extension on expired IDs may be sunsetted sometime around May 2025.

This is because many people will be focused on the REAL ID deadline, and therefore, TSA may think it’s also a good opportunity to publicly draw attention to the change in the one-year ID extension policy.

However, there is some evidence that TSA accepted expired IDs before the pandemic so this could be a continued policy. In fact, that article from TSA even mentions that you could also bring expired passports not more than 12 months past the identified expiration date!

Image via AZ DMV.

Will TSA accept damaged driver’s licenses?

Another potential problem could be trying to get through airport security with a damaged driver’s license.

As you may have already suspect it, “damage is in the eye of the beholder” in a lot of cases.

In some instances, it’s clear that a drivers license is damaged but in other cases you could just argue that it’s a little bit of normal wear and tear.

In the end, it typically comes down to whether or not the details are legible but again, that could depend on the agents eye sight and their comfort level with deciphering less than 100% clear details. One agent might be okay with a crack slightly obscuring a letter or two while another agent may have a zero tolerance policy.

Here is some guidance on when your drivers license may be considered damaged and a second list of when you might be able to get away with a little bit of damage.

When a Driver’s License is Clearly Considered Damaged:

  1. Severely torn or shredded, making it difficult to read the information.
  2. Water damaged, causing the information or photo to be illegible.
  3. Burned or charred, impairing the visibility of essential details.
  4. Cut or perforated in a way that affects the readability or integrity of the document.
  5. Partially or completely faded ink, making the text or photo indiscernible.
  6. Altered or tampered with, such as scratched off or modified information.
  7. Bent, folded, or crumpled to the extent that it obstructs the necessary details.
  8. Defaced with markings, scribbles, or stains that obscure relevant information.
  9. Damaged magnetic stripe or barcode, preventing scanning or verification.
  10. Warped or distorted due to exposure to extreme heat or other external factors.

When a Driver’s License May or May Not be Considered Damaged:

  1. Minor tears or creases that do not hinder the ability to read the essential information.
  2. Minimal water damage that does not significantly impact the visibility of details.
  3. Slight fading of ink that still allows for the identification of key information.
  4. Normal wear and tear, such as minor scratches, without impairing the legibility.
  5. Small holes or perforations that do not affect critical sections of the document.
  6. Moderate bending or folding that does not obscure important data or photo.
  7. Light smudges or stains that do not obscure the necessary details for identification.
  8. Minor wear on the magnetic stripe or barcode that does not prevent scanning.
  9. Cosmetic damage, such as a chipped corner, without compromising information.
  10. Slight warping or discoloration due to exposure to normal environmental conditions.

What about temporary IDs or paper IDs?

If you just made a change to your driver’s license or just received a new one, you may only have a paper driver’s license or temporary ID.

And the question is will TSA accept a paper ID?

Typically, something like a paper driver’s license is only valid for giving you the legal right to be driving on the road. Some states may allow you to purchase things like tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana with a temporary ID.

But for the most part these are not valid for identification purposes. And this much was made clear by the TSA when they stated, “[i]nterim driver’s licenses are temporary paper documents and are not currently an acceptable form of ID.”

So, if you have a paper ID, the best course of action would be to follow the directions linked in the article below regarding what to do when you don’t have an ID.

As shown below, you can present forms of secondary ID which can help verify your identity.

For example, if you had a paper ID and a student ID or perhaps a Social Security card, a TSA agent may allow you to get through security by showing all of those.

Also keep in mind that if you are talking about a minor, TSA does NOT require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling within the US.

Tip: Always try to bring more than you think you need when trying to verify your ID and be sure to give yourself extra time at the airport to get through the identification process.

Will TSA accept digital IDs?

One of the newer initiatives that the TSA has focused on is accepting digital IDs.

This could be a great strategy to use when getting through airport security if you have a damaged ID or if you can’t locate your physical ID card.

This is something that can be very helpful for people with TSA Pre-Check.

That program requires you to pay a fee and go through a background check but it’s a relatively simple procedure and the benefits include being able to get through airport security much quicker.

But an additional benefit is that you can upload your ID to a TSA approved app or to your phone’s digital wallet (Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, etc.) and then rely on the app to get you through identity verification.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about digital IDs.

First, they come in different forms which could be biometrics, mobile drivers licenses, and digital identification. Second, each state handles these differently so don’t expect to have the same experience in one state to another, at least not right now.

Another way to get through security without having to hassle with your ID is to enroll in CLEAR.

This is what I used to get through the airport and I simply have to scan my eyes or fingerprints whenever I arrive at the security checkpoint and then I get to cut the line and get through to security screening very quickly.

CLEAr kiosk

What to do if you don’t have an ID

Many people are surprised to find out that if they don’t have an ID or if they have an ID that is considered too damaged to be accepted, they can still get through airport security.

What this comes down to is your ability to come up with secondary documents that can prove your identity.

There is no exact formula for what documents will be needed because TSA allows for a lot of flexibility. However, they do give guidance and we went to full detail about how to go about the situation in this blog post.

But for summary purposes, here are some of the documents you could potentially use:

  • Library card
  • Business card
  • Social Security card
  • Student ID
  • Mail
  • Credit cards
  • Photo of an ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Prescription with your name on the label

Final word

Verifying your identification is crucial when getting through airport security. Typically, on a domestic flight this is done with a driver’s license or ID card.

If your ID card is expired, damaged, or in the paper form, you can still get through airport security but it depends on when your ID expired and what other supporting documents you have to verify your ID in the latter two cases.

If you follow the steps in this article, you should be able to get through airport security without too much hassle but always remember to give yourself extra time at the airport when going about ID verification in a non-traditional way.

Can TSA Ask About Your Medical Condition?

For many individuals, the process of navigating airport security can be quite anxiety-inducing. However, for those with medical conditions, this experience can be even more stress-inducing.

Lots of people wonder whether or not TSA can ask about their personal medical conditions.

In this article, we aim to shed light on this matter and offer guidance on what to anticipate when going through airport security while dealing with medical conditions.

Can TSA ask about your medical condition?

TSA may inquire about your medical condition but the questions usually should only pertain to those necessary for security screening.

Typically, this would mean getting clarification on the medical devices and liquids being transported through a security checkpoint although TSA does ask passengers bringing devices for certain conditions (such as diabetes) to disclose their specific medical condition.

If you have an external device or other medical object that you travel with, it could be helpful to carry a TSA notification card which contains details about your medical situation so that you don’t have to explain yourself every time you go through security.

Related: Can Airlines Refuse To Serve Sick Passengers?

Does HIPPA protect you from TSA agents?

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. While HIPAA establishes important safeguards for the healthcare industry, it does not extend its protections to all situations or entities.

Specifically, it only covers Health Plans, Most Health Care Providers, Health Care Clearinghouses, and all their associates.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports is primarily focused on ensuring the safety and security of travelers and aviation. Their primary concern is not the handling or disclosure of personal health information and the specific provisions and protections of HIPAA do not apply to TSA agents at airports.

With that said, TSA agents should not be on a quest to uncover all of your personal and private health details. Instead, questions should only arise as they pertain to security screening of specific objects.

If you ever feel like a TSA agent is going too far and is forcing you to disclose details you’re uncomfortable with disclosing or is harassing you over a medical condition, you should request to speak with a TSA supervisor.

And if you feel the need to gather evidence of mistreatment, you are allowed to record a TSA agent as long as you are not interfering with screening or recording sensitive information such as the screen that shows up at the x-ray machine.

When TSA may ask about your medical condition

TSA may feel the need to inquire about your medical situation whenever you are going through screening and you are bringing in items that are usually prohibited or that require extra inspection.

Typically, the inquiry should be focused on the medical devices or objects being brought forth but sometimes that questioning bleeds over into questions about the actual medical condition.

Common items that people often bring through are medical liquids. These could be prescribed or over-the-counter but TSA allows for oversized liquids to come through when they are “medically necessary” (subject to the discretion of the agent).

If you are bringing a large liquid bottle through security, it’s possible that an agent will want some details about the contents of that bottle.

One reason is that some medically prescribed liquids could pose a hazard. For example, there are certain types of contact solution that are typically not allowed.

TSA states that the protocol for bringing medically necessary liquids through security is for you to declare them and “separate them from other belongings before screening begins.” They recommend that you label your medications to facilitate the security process but that is not required.

When you declare these items, that is the time when some questions might be asked. In addition to inquiring about the contents, an agent may also inquire about the quantity that you are bringing through.

You can make your case stronger by explaining why the amount you are bringing is necessary for your flight or the duration of your trip. Also, if you are not able to purchase the item in the sterile area or at the destination, that can also help your case.

Common examples of medically necessary “liquids” include:

  • Prescription liquids, creams, and gels;
  • Breast milk, infant formula, baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches), and toddler drinks;
  • Ice, gel, and freezer packs used to cool breast milk, infant formula, and or other medically necessary items;
  • Hand Sanitizer

Note that sunscreen is not typically found to be medically necessary.

When bringing larger liquids through, it’s very possible that they will be subjected to additional testing. This could be a closer look through the x-ray machine, swabbing, or some other type of testing. In the event that your liquids “fail” the test, they will not be allowed to get through security.

Instances when your medical situation may be brought up

One of the most common situations where your medical details will come up is if you have diabetes. If you are bringing a Blood Sugar Test Kit, TSA states to “notify the TSA officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you.”

If you are bringing an external medical device with you then you also may need to disclose that particular device.

The type of devices that you will need to inform the TSA officer of include: a bone growth stimulator, spinal stimulator, neurostimulator, port, feeding tube, insulin pump, ostomy or other medical device attached to your body.

You’ll need to let the TSA officer know where the device is located and you can expect that area to be closely inspected by an agent, although they should use special care. You may also get a pat down.

As far as having to explain the details of a specific medical condition requiring the device, that’s not always necessary.

But one strategy that people use is that they utilize the TSA notification cards or other medical documents which describe their condition. This way, all they have to do is quickly show a card and that will disclose all of the necessary details.

When bringing nebulizers, CPAPs, BiPAPs and APAPs, they are are allowed in carry-on bags but must be removed from the carrying case and undergo X-ray screening. Don’t be surprised if you get questioned about these, especially if you forget to remove them from your carrying case. And also don’t be surprised if they require explosives trace testing.

Certain portable oxygen concentrators are permitted onboard the aircraft, including Inogen One, Sequal Eclipse, Airsep Lifestyle but don’t be surprised if you get questioned or these require a closer inspection.

Finally, it’s possible that when going through a full body scanner, the scanner could pick up on things like scar tissue. You may need to explain to an agent that you had a surgery or medical procedure that created scar tissue in that region of your body.

If you have medical implants, it helps to be familiar with the process of TSA pat downs which we have detailed thoroughly.

Final word

For the most part, a TSA agent should not be requesting details about your medical condition unless the questions relate to medical objects or medically necessary liquids you are trying to get through security.

The questions should focus on allowing them to discover the contents and composition of the items and not necessarily the details of your diagnosis.

With that said, providing context in the form of a TSA notification card can help expedite the screening process by allowing the agent to quickly put together what you are bringing through security and why.

11 Lessons Learned from Living in Hotels Full Time

This is sort of Part II of my blog post: Can You Live in a Hotel? Or Better Yet, Should You?

At that time, I’d thought about living abroad in hotels but eventually decided not to go that route for various reasons.

But years later, I made the jump and decided to live full time in hotels/AirBnbs (but in the US)!

Allow me to now share with you a few valuable insights and lessons that I have acquired along the way.

Organization is key

Staying organized in a hotel room is of paramount importance, especially for individuals planning to live in a hotel and who may have more baggage and belongings compared to the average traveler.

With all the extra items, it becomes easier to misplace or lose important belongings amidst the confined space and constant rotation of luggage.

So what can you do?

First, you need to avoid bringing too many things with you.

We did a pretty good job of getting rid of our stuff but we still did bring some things that we just didn’t have to have like a ramp for our dog, extra bed cushions, etc.

But don’t stress too much about getting this right.

You can trim down your belongings all you want but you probably won’t be able to get it completely right until after you’ve been living in a hotel for a couple of weeks. Only then will you see what you truly need or don’t need.

You also need to implement some organizational strategy.

One thing that I do is I have designated places for valuables. If I’m ever looking for a wallet, keys, key card, etc. I know it’s gonna be on the corner of a table or a piece of furniture. My hat and sunglasses will always be on the dresser, by the TV.

I have a designated luggage bag for all of my electronics including my camera, drone, batteries, charging cables, etc. I also have another bag for things like medications, toiletries, etc.

I also always know what I keep in each compartment of my backpack, so I’m not left guessing as to where things are.

By implementing effective organizational strategies, one can maintain order and minimize the risk of misplacement or damage.

keys and wallet on table

Be aware of local ordinances

Lots of people know that if you book a longer-term stay you can save money by taking advantage of the extended stay rates. Sometimes the savings can be very significant, too!

But what a lot of people don’t know is that certain cities may have ordinances that restrict extended stays in hotel properties for longer than a month.

Unfortunately, hotels may not always disclose this information at the time of booking, allowing guests to proceed with their reservations unknowingly.

It won’t be until later on when the hotel does an audit that they pick up on this and then request for you to terminate part of your booking — something that can obviously be a huge inconvenience.

Therefore, it becomes essential for long-term residents to conduct thorough research about local regulations and clarify any potential limitations directly with the hotel before finalizing their stay.

Pick the right property

Often, you will be drawn to extended-stay properties that are specifically designed for people to stay long stays, including longer than a month.

These are great because they often have kitchenettes or kitchens, laundry facilities, a gym, pool, and are relatively easy to get in and out of.

But sometimes they do have their drawbacks.

You could be dealing with a single, slow elevator, less than tidy properties, thin floors and walls, lower points earning (such as with Marriott), and areas more removed from the heart of a city (though not always). They also could be more expensive than a traditional hotel, although that really varies.

A traditional hotel can offer you cheaper rates, better locations, more dining options, and a greater selection of room types. They also may be located in high-rise buildings with better views, better soundproof walls and windows, more aesthetically pleasing designs, bigger staff, etc.

The drawback is that it may be harder to find rooms with a kitchen, you may have to pay more for parking, and if you’re saving money on the room rate, chances are you’re in a pretty small room.

In the end, it may take some experimentation for you to get a feel of the type of hotel you prefer living in. Be open to trying different room types.

Personally, I prefer a smaller, quieter hotel in less populated areas with nice open spaces but with a diverse selection of restaurants and stores within reach. Areas like the Denver Tech Center fit this description perfectly.

hotel room with kitchen

Verify the hotel’s details

Once you settle on a property, make efforts to verify hotel details before booking.

While hotel websites may showcase various amenities and facilities, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and confirm the accuracy of the information provided.

Often, discrepancies arise where certain facilities or services mentioned on the website might not actually exist or may be temporarily unavailable due to renovations or other reasons.

We actually ran into this at one of the first hotels we stayed at.

They advertised that they had laundry facilities but when we arrived we were notified that they no longer had them which means we would have to find a local laundromat which was a pretty major inconvenience.

By taking the time to verify hotel details through multiple sources, such as contacting the hotel directly or reading reviews from past guests, individuals can avoid potential disappointments upon arrival.

Verify things like:

  • Safety and security measures (e.g., security cameras, well-lit parking areas)
  • Availability of 24-hour front desk or concierge service
  • Room amenities (e.g., Wi-Fi, air conditioning, heating)
  • Accessibility features (e.g., wheelchair ramps, elevators)
  • Availability of laundry facilities or services
  • On-site dining options (e.g., restaurant, lounges, breakfast service)
  • Fitness center or gym facilities
  • Swimming pool or spa
  • Parking options (availability, cost, valet service)
  • Pet-friendly policy (if applicable)
  • Business center or meeting rooms
  • Shuttle service or proximity to public transportation
  • In-room amenities (e.g., mini fridge, microwave, safe)
  • Housekeeping frequency and policies
  • Additional charges or resort fees
  • Children’s facilities or activities (if applicable)

This proactive approach ensures that one’s expectations align with the reality of the hotel, allowing for a more enjoyable and hassle-free long-term stay experience.

Related: Laundry At Hotels? Essential Tips for Keeping Your Threads Fresh

hotel laundry room

Transplant + modify your routines

When choosing to live in a hotel full-time, it becomes crucial to transplant and modify your most precious routines to adapt to the new environment.

Some of your routines may need to be modified to fit the hotel’s setting.

For example, before moving into a hotel I had the same breakfast smoothie probably 355 days a year every morning at 6 AM.

But using a loud blender at 6 AM in a hotel room may disturb others who are still sleeping or trying to relax. To address this concern, I adjusted my routine by preparing my smoothie during lunch (which also allowed me to take advantage of a free breakfast).

It’s essential to maintain other “centering” routines as well, such as working out, going for walks, or meditating, as they contribute to a sense of normalcy and help you settle into your new lifestyle more comfortably.

By modifying and transplanting your routines, you can create a semblance of familiarity and establish a sense of stability in your hotel living experience.


Study your nearby area/neighborhood before booking

Picking the right hotel property is crucial for individuals planning to live in a hotel as it sets the foundation for a comfortable and convenient long-term stay.

There are several factors to consider when selecting the ideal hotel.

First and foremost, being familiar with the crime levels of the surrounding area is essential for ensuring personal safety and peace of mind.

When living in a hotel room for extended periods of time, you’re going to want to get outside to get fresh air, exercise, etc. And you don’t want to be constantly looking over your shoulder or worrying about people breaking into your car.

While you can figure out some details (like whether or not there are sidewalks) by utilizing satellite images and Google Street view, sometimes you also just need to call the front desk and try to get the inside scoop.

I once called a hotel to inquire about the safety of the area, and after a long and awkward pause, the front desk agent’s equivocating response didn’t exactly leave me feeling reassured.

Despite liking the property and what it had to offer, the uncertainty surrounding its safety made me decide against staying there.

It’s important to prioritize your own peace of mind and security when choosing accommodations, and if a hotel’s response leaves you uncomfortable or uncertain, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and explore other options that align with your safety concerns.

criminal walking

Take control of your environment

When staying in a hotel, it’s often unpredictable whether you’ll encounter noise issues or unwanted street light entering through the windows.

To take control of your environment and ensure a peaceful stay, it’s imperative to come prepared.

Consider packing essentials such as eye shades to block out any intrusive light and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to counteract potential disturbances from neighboring rooms or noisy surroundings.

I’d also highly recommend bringing your own blanket and potentially your own pillow so that you can always have a baseline level of comfort in your bed. (Some hotels just don’t wash their bedding.)

By proactively equipping yourself with these items, you can mitigate any unforeseen disruptions and create a more serene and comfortable atmosphere for yourself, regardless of the hotel’s environment or the behavior of fellow guests.

It’s also good to familiarize yourself with the quiet hours of a property so that you’ll know when you need to voice a complaint.

Related: Can You Get Kicked Out of a Hotel?

Make requests if needed

When living in a hotel, it’s important not to be afraid to make special requests. Hotels are often willing to accommodate guests’ needs and preferences to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Whether it’s requesting additional amenities like a microwave or a mini fridge in your room, or even something as specific as chargers for your electronic devices, it’s worth asking the hotel staff for assistance.

Here are some requests you might make:

  • Extra towels or pillows
  • Toiletries or personal care items
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Microwave or mini-fridge
  • Electric kettle or coffee maker
  • Extra hangers or storage space
  • Yoga mat or exercise equipment
  • Adapter or charger for electronic devices
  • Room service menu or restaurant recommendations
  • Portable fan or heater (depending on the season)
  • Wake-up call service
  • Umbrella
  • First aid kit
  • Stain remover or laundry detergent
  • Late check-out or early check-in (subject to availability)
  • Assistance with luggage storage or handling
  • Access to fitness center or pool
  • Assistance with arranging dry cleaning or laundry services
  • Assistance with finding local attractions or events.

Many hotels are equipped to fulfill such requests or may have alternative solutions available.

Being proactive in communicating your needs can enhance your living experience and make your temporary residence feel more like home. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the hotel’s front desk or concierge and make your special requests known.

Leverage hotel breakfast benefits for savings

Picking a hotel that offers free breakfast can be a smart choice for individuals planning an extended stay, as it can result in significant cost savings on a daily basis.

Having breakfast included in your hotel stay eliminates the need to spend money on dining out every morning, allowing you to allocate those funds for other expenses or activities.

However, eating the same hotel breakfast every day might lead to some monotony or boredom over time. To mitigate this, some hotels offer variety in their breakfast options, but even then, there’s only so much variety you’ll be offered in the long-run.

Sometimes you’ll need to get creative with how you fix up your breakfast. For example, you can whip up a savory breakfast sandwich by toasting the bread, topping it with a perfectly cooked egg and a dollop of salsa for a burst of flavor.

Breakfast is also one of the most easily quantifiable savings you can calculate we’re living in a hotel. For example, you might typically spend seven dollars a day on breakfast during the week and $12 during the weekend. It’s really easy to calculate your savings and factor those into the cost of your room.

Certain hotels may provide free breakfast in a restaurant setting, which may require tipping the server.

While this can slightly reduce the overall savings, the convenience and time saved by having a prepared breakfast readily available can still outweigh the additional expense, at least for those who are okay with tipping.

Overall, selecting a hotel with a complimentary breakfast can be a practical choice that helps stretch your budget while providing a convenient start to your day.

hotel breakfast cereal

Create front desk BFFs

Making friends with the hotel front desk staff is of utmost importance for individuals planning to live in a hotel. Building a positive and friendly relationship with the front desk can prove invaluable in various ways.

They are the go-to people who can assist with a wide range of needs that may arise during a long-term stay. Whether it’s sending or receiving packages, they can ensure the smooth handling of your mail and deliveries.

Additionally, in case of any issues or complaints, such as problems with Wi-Fi, hot water, or other amenities, having a good rapport with the front desk staff can expedite the resolution process.

Here are some of the major ways they can help you out:

  • Assist with room upgrades or changes if available
  • Provide recommendations for local attractions, restaurants, and activities
  • Help arrange transportation services or provide information on public transportation options
  • Assist with booking reservations for dining, shows, or other events
  • Facilitate mail and package handling, including receiving and holding packages on your behalf
  • Help resolve any issues or complaints during your stay, such as noise disturbances or maintenance problems
  • Quickly provide additional amenities or supplies upon request, such as extra towels or toiletries
  • Offer insights on hotel policies, such as late check-out or early check-in options
  • Assist with arranging special requests or surprises, such as celebrating a special occasion or organizing a surprise gift delivery
  • Provide local maps, guides, and information on nearby attractions or services.

Their knowledge and expertise can help swiftly address and rectify any concerns you may have, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable living experience.

By fostering a friendly relationship with the hotel front desk, you gain a reliable resource and ally who can provide assistance and support throughout your stay.

hotel front desk agent

Mandatory housekeeping is not always so mandatory

While some hotels may claim that mandatory housekeeping is required at least once every five or seven days during an extended stay, it’s important to note that this policy may not always be strictly enforced.

Many hotels understand that guests may prefer to maintain their privacy and choose to decline daily housekeeping services.

However, it’s still advisable to keep your room in good condition throughout your stay.

By tidying up regularly, you can ensure that your living space remains comfortable and presentable, and prevent a buildup of clutter or mess.

Taking responsibility for the cleanliness of your room also means that when the time comes for a housekeeping agent to attend to your room at the end of your stay, they won’t be confronted with a daunting and overwhelming task.

Two tips I have for keeping your room in better condition:

  1. Put your trash in a tightly wrapped bag and place it outside the door for housekeeping to pick up or throw it away in a bin located in the hallway/outside an exit
  2. Ball up your towels and place them outside your door for housekeeping to pick up; request new towels via phone or from a housekeeper in the hallway

Related: Don’t Want to Use Hotel Housekeeping? Here’s What to Do

Final word

In conclusion, living in a hotel can be a great option for individuals who are looking for a temporary or long-term living arrangement.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. By following these tips, you can make the most of your hotel living experience.

Here are some of the key points to remember:

  • Do your research. Before you book your stay, be sure to research the hotel and the surrounding area to make sure it is a good fit for your needs.
  • Be organized. When living in a hotel room, it is important to be organized to avoid clutter and make the most of your space.
  • Pick the right property. Consider the size of the room, the amenities offered, and the location of the hotel when making your decision.
  • Verify details. Make sure the hotel’s website accurately reflects the amenities and services offered.
  • Study your nearby area. Be aware of the crime levels, sidewalks, and parking options in the area.
  • Make requests. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel staff for special requests, such as additional amenities or chargers for your electronic devices.
  • Take advantage of free breakfast. Many hotels offer free breakfast, which can save you money on dining out.
  • Make friends with the front desk staff. They can be a valuable resource for assistance and support throughout your stay.
  • Keep your room clean. Even if housekeeping is not required, it is still considerate to keep your room clean for the next guest.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your hotel living experience and enjoy a comfortable and convenient stay.

Hotel Elevator “Close Door” Buttons: Do They Actually Work?

Have you ever been in a hurry to get to your hotel room, only to be delayed by the slow-closing elevator doors?

You press the “close door” button, but it seems to have no effect. You start to wonder, does the “close door” button even work?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the “close door” button in hotel elevators.

We’ll explain why it may not work in many hotels, and we’ll show you how to use it to your advantage in certain situations.

Does the “close door” button work in hotel elevators?

The answer is: yes, but maybe not the way you’d expect.

In lots of hotels in the United States, the “close door” button is sort of a placebo button. It may make you feel like you have more control over the elevator, but it doesn’t actually immediately close the doors.

This is in part because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires elevators to stay open long enough for people with disabilities to get on and off.

Specifically, the U.S. Access Board states, “[u]ser activation of door close (or automatic operation) cannot reduce the initial opening time of doors (3 seconds minimum) or the minimum door signal timing.”

(Sometimes the minimum dwell time is based on the distance between the call buttons and the elevator doors.)

In addition to the ADA, there are also state building codes, local municipality codes, etc., that are added to the mix.

As a result of these codes and restrictions, many owners and installers have programmed the close door buttons to not take effect immediately.

That doesn’t mean the close door buttons don’t “work,” though.

First, they still need to be operational for fire departments and independent services. Otherwise, there’s some big safety issues.

But more pertinent to the average hotel guest, pressing the close door button still could decrease the amount of dwell time the elevator door is open for so that the doors only stay open for the minimum programmed time.

To illustrate, let’s say you hop on a hotel elevator with a minimum ADA open time of three seconds. And let’s say its software is programmed by the hotel for the doors to stay open for 15 seconds. If after the doors open you wait four seconds to hit the close door button, it will probably close at that time. But if you hit it as soon as you board the elevator, it won’t do anything.

So saying these buttons “don’t work” isn’t exactly accurate.

It’s worth noting, there are some hotels where the “close door” button does work immediately.

These are usually older hotels that were built before the ADA was passed or hotels that for whatever reason, don’t have to comply with minimum dwell times.

I’ve personally stayed in a few these over the past few years.

In these hotels, the “close door” button will close the doors as soon as possible, regardless of how long the doors have been open.

So, if you’re staying in a hotel and you’re eager to get to your room, pressing the “close door” button may not do anything, at least not for a few seconds.

But if you’re staying in an older hotel, then pressing the “close door” button might actually help you get to your room faster.

Hotel elevators button

Other uses of the close door button

Older hotels or hotels with older elevators may allow you to use “floor bypass trick” to expedite your trip to a certain floor. This trick works on some elevators, but not all of them.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get in the elevator and press the button for the floor you want to go to.
  2. Hold down the close door button (some say hold down the floor button, too)
  3. The elevator should start moving to your floor, bypassing any other floors that have been selected.

This trick works because the close door button overrides the other buttons that have been pressed. So, if someone else has pressed a button for a different floor, the elevator will still go to your floor first.

But keep in mind, it’s rare to find elevators where this trick still works and holding down buttons like this on modern elevators might trigger a malfunction or get you stuck on an elevator. I’d suggest not trying this with other passengers in the elevator.

Also, some modern elevators might make it impossible for you to even attempt this trick based on their design.

Elevator reservation keypad

Another use of the close door button could be to “reboot” the elevator. If the elevator doors have been held open for too long (past the allowed “nudging time”) the elevator could go into a door obstruction mode where the doors will not close.

Sometimes if you hold down the close door button this can trigger the elevator to get back to normal.

Finally, you can also sometimes use the close door button to cancel the open door button (a button that should usually work).

So if you’re trying to be nice and you hit the open door button, simply hit the close door button once those other elevator passengers have made it inside to save a few seconds.

(I think this works because at that time, the minimum open door time has probably commenced.)

Hotel elevators in different countries

It’s important to remember that other countries may have different regulations and standards that do not align with the ADA. Therefore, when you’re traveling outside of the US, it’s likely that the close door button will have an immediate effect.

In fact, at times, it may even close the door quite rapidly, which can be somewhat alarming!

Some of these elevators in different countries may also have different features you’re not accustomed to in the US. For example, sometimes you can press a button for a floor a second time in order to clear out the request if you happen to hit the wrong button.

Hotel elevators

Hotel elevators and the 13th floor

Another interesting observation you might have made is the absence of a designated button for the 13th floor in certain hotels.

This peculiar omission stems from a common superstition held by many individuals, associating the number 13 with potential bad luck. In order to accommodate guests who hold these beliefs, hotels often choose not to officially label or name the 13th floor.

To navigate around this superstition, hotels employ various approaches in handling the 13th floor. To learn more about how hotels address this peculiar situation, refer to this article on hotels and their treatment of the 13th floor.

Final word

In US hotels, the “close door” elevator button works but often does not have an immediate closing effect due to the ADA’s minimum required open time.

However, there are still some hotels where it does close the doors promptly and hotels may program their elevators to work differently which is why you might have so many different experiences.

Also, if you’re staying in a hotel outside the US, the close door button will likely work as expected but again it comes down to how the elevator is programmed.

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