Chicago’s hottest tourist ticket: a corruption walking-tour

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Journalist Paul Dailing, creator of the 1001 Chicago Afternoons blog, has created a walking tour of the most corrupt sites in Chicago's fantastically corrupt history, and it's selling out. Read the rest

TSA lines grow to 3 hours, snake outside the terminals, with no end in sight

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The TSA gambled on millions of wealthy Americans opting out of its pornoscanner-and-shoe-removal process and signing up for its Precheck policy, which allows travellers to pay for the "privilege" of walking through a metal-detector with their shoes on, while their laptops stay in their bags. Read the rest

The quest for the well-labeled inn

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I have a first-world problem: I stay in a lot of hotels.

$9 scale makes weighing luggage easy

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A Southwest Airlines passenger is allowed to check two pieces of luggage weighing up to 50lbs each for free. It's a generous allowance. But if one bag weighs 55 lbs and the other weighs 45 lbs, you'll get charged $75 for the heavier bag.

Other airlines have similar pricing arrangement. I bought this illuminated $9 luggage scale last year to weigh checked and carry-on luggage and it's really easy to use -- much easier than standing on a bathroom scale while holding the luggage and subtracting my weight. You just loop the strap around the luggage handle and lift it. It has a built in digital thermometer (because why?). You can switch between pounds and kilograms, too. Read the rest

Hotel's Android-based lightswitches are predictably, horribly insecure

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Matthew Garrett checked into a London hotel and discovered that the proprietors had decided that "light switches are unfashionable and replaced them with a series of Android tablets." Read the rest

USB hub for laptops includes Ethernet port

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This handy USB gadget has three USB 3.0 ports and a RJ45 Gigabit ethernet port. It's regularly $25, but if you use code VK5JTT8L you can get it for $20. Read the rest

American Airlines is suing Gogo over its crappy Wi-Fi

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The first time I used Gogo's expensive inflight Wi-Fi, it was horrible. Web pages wouldn't load, email wouldn't send or receive. I decided to give them another chance a couple of months later and it was equally horrible. Gogo controls 80% of the in-flight Wi-Fi market, and they have a lot of nerve charging people for something that doesn't work. They owe me $25.

It turns out I'm not the only one who thinks Gogo is awful. American Airlines is suing Gogo, claiming the Wi-Fi provider has violated the terms of their contract, which requires Gogo's Wi-Fi service to be as good or better than Wi-Fi service on American Airlines' competitors.

Gogo issued the following statement:

"[Gogo has] no comment on the merits of this litigation, but we would like to note that American is a valued customer of ours and that we look forward to resolving the disagreement regarding contract interpretation that led to this declaratory judgment action.”

If you'd like another reason to dislike Gogo, Buzzfeed has one for you:

Separately, Gogo has been criticized for unwittingly drawing some customers into monthly subscriptions that can’t be canceled from its website. A proposed settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit over such subscriptions, which may result in some users receiving Gogo day passes.

Gogo's stock price fell over 30% on Tuesday. Read the rest

Black travel guide for a racist America

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In 1936, postal worker Victor H. Green worked with his colleagues in the Postal Workers Union to create a guide for black travelers navigating a country where many restaurants, hotels, and shops were still "whites only," and the real threat of physical assault and arrest hung in their faces.

"You needed The Green Book to tell you where you can go without having doors slammed in your face," civil rights leader Julian Bond once said.

The Green Book was updated and in print until 1966.

"There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published," reads the introduction.

More at Atlas Obscura: "Object of Intrigue: A Jim Crow Era Guide for Black Travelers" (Thanks, David Steinberg!)

Previously: "New York Public Library does the public domain right"

Read the rest

Awesome tips for getting cheap airfares with Google Flights

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I'm a hardcore traveler and Google Flights is my tool of choice for figuring out my weird, complex, ever-changing plans. Read the rest

Passports, ranked by country

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The Passport Index ranks passports according to their "power", defined around how many countries will let you in without a visa. British and American passports share the top spot. Meanwhile, a South Sudanese or Palestinian passport wouldn't get you into a candy store.

Visa Free Score Passports accumulate points for each visa free country that their holders can visit without a visa, or they can obtain a visa on arrival.

Passport Power Rank Passports are ranked based on their Visa Free Score. The higher the Visa Free Score, the better the Passport Power Rank.

Methodology The country list is based on the 193 UN member countries and 6 territories (Macao, Kosovo, etc.) for a total of 199. Territories annexed to other countries such as Norfolk Island, French Polynesia, etc. are excluded. Data is based on research from publicly available sources, as well as information shared by government agencies.

The best part of the site is the page where you can sort the passport cover images by color. Read the rest

Sriracha: now in individual sachets

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The convenience of carrying your favorite hot-sauce in individual sachets -- think "McDonald's ketchup pouches" -- can't be overstated. It's a particularly great format if you're a frequent traveller, as TSA screeners don't recognize the shape as a "liquid" on their X-rays, meaning you can just stash them in your bags and pockets and not worry about getting them all out when you reach a checkpoint. Read the rest

Don't agree to do record-breaking tricks on Chinese TV. Just don't.

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Gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo writes, "Last week I got booked to travel to China and appear on their big world records TV show to pull the biggest tablecloth ever. Here's how none of that happened and I ended up literally fleeing to the airport." Read the rest

Suspicious, photo-taking "Middle Eastern" men were visually impaired tourists

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A leaked Vancouver internal police bulletin sent the city into a tizz when they learned that the cops were trying to locate three "Middle-Eastern" men who'd been taking a suspicious amount of photographs of a shopping mall. Read the rest

TSA threatens to stop accepting driver's licenses from nine states as of Jan 10

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When Congress passed the 2005 Real ID act -- mandating easy sharing (and intrinsic insecurity) -- of driver's license data, they insisted compliance by states with the rules would be voluntary. Read the rest

What's in Patti Smith's bag?

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Legendary poet and high priestess of punk Patti Smith posted photos and details of what she packed for a recent tour.

Smith is on tour right now, playing her iconic album Horses in its entirety (and then some), and I hope to catch one of her always-incendiary and inspiring performances.

I always travel light. Besides my dungarees and my trusty Ann Demeulemeester black jackets, everything can be washed in a sink in a hotel room and laid out on a windowsill to dry. For instance 7 tee shirts (including 4 electric lady teeshirts) and 7 pairs of bee socks.

The worse part, besides saying goodbye to my daughter Jesse, is picking out what books to take. I decide this will be essentially a Haruki Murakami tour. So I will take several of his books including the three volume IQ84 to reread. He is a good writer to reread as he sets your mind to daydreaming while you are reading him. thus i always miss stuff.

I inventory Moleskin notebooks. seven small tubes of Weleda salt toothpaste. witch hazel wipes. Loquat leaf tea bags for cough. essentials like that. I guess I am ready.

Read the rest

Video about a $32,000 plane trip from NYC to Abu Dhabi

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Brian Kelly (aka The Points Guy) reviewed what it was like to fly Etihad's Residence suite from New York JFK to Abu Dhabi. His "seat" was a three-cabin suite.

Etihad forgot to load his baggage on the flight. Read the rest

Marriott removing desks from its hotel rooms "because Millennials"

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Yahoo sport columnist Dan Wetzel checked into a Marriott, something he does a lot, and was bewildered to discover that his room didn't have a desk. When he called down to the reception, he discovered that the whole chain was gradually removing its desks, because some consultants told them that Millennials like to chill on couches with their phones, not sit at desks like square-ass Old People. Read the rest

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