ChicoBags - reusable cloth bag packs into tiny bundle

I've been keeping a ChicoBag in my travel kit for about ten years. It's small enough that I could almost hide it in my fist. But when opened, it's large enough to carry a laptop and charger, or a beach towel and sunscreen, or a fair amount of groceries. It's made of polyester and can carry a lot of weight without bursting at the seams. It has handles. I've used it countless times. The bag has a sewn on pouch, so you can stuff the bag into the pouch, ouroboros-style. A four-pack costs $20 on Amazon. Read the rest

TSA head of security 'removed from his position'

Kelly Hoggan, former head of security for TSA.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration asked its head of security to turn in his badge and bright blue gloves. Kelly Hoggan has been 'removed from his post.'

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Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

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The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

Haptic sneakers give you turn-by-turn directions through vibrations in your feet

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Low-cost carrier Easyjet has prototyped "Sneakairs," a pair of shoes that have small vibrating motors and Bluetooth links; they work in concert with your mobile phone's mapping app, buzzing left or right when it's time to turn, and twice if you've gone the wrong way. Read the rest

Infested: an itchy, fascinating natural history of the bed bug

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The resurgence of the bed bug caught modern civilization flatfooted: an ancient pestilence dating back to the Pharoahs, gone for two generations, has returned with a vengeance, infesting fancy hotels and slums alike, lining our streets with mattresses spraypainted with the warning BEDBUGS. Infested, science writer Brooke Borel's natural history of the bed bug, looks at the bug's insurgency as a scientific, cultural, and economic phenomenon, and will leave you itching with delight.

Footage of security lines snaking out the airport

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Incredible footage of the TSA line at Chicago Midway airport yesterday, which snakes out the airport atrium and into the surrounding transit hallways -- it's hundreds of yards long.

It follows news of massive layoffs at the TSA, though apparently most of the planned firings haven't happened yet, so it's only going to get worse.

The only bright spot is that the airlines themselves appear to be at the end of their tether: the lines are depriving them of passengers who must be rebooked. And, thanks to the Brussels attacks, everyone knows that the compressed packs of humans created by airport security theater are a prime target in their own right.

Good to know no dangerous breast milk got on those half-empty flights, though. Read the rest

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"

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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

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