Quick tech hacks to ease the busy holiday season

For some people, the holidays are all about relaxing at home. If you have extra time on your hands, do yourself a favor and organize your messy photo collection. Tap or click to find out how to get the job done.

Do you visit family? Find your favorite old photos hanging on their walls or hidden in albums. Touch or click an app to scan without any glare.

And if you laughed at the phrase “overtime,” I’m here for you, too. Here are some simple ways to spend the holidays with a smile on your face.

Stop arguing about when to leave

The classic holiday battle: What time do you have to leave home to reach your destination on time and avoid traffic?

Take the guesswork out and let our traffic prediction algorithms make your driving easier. Google Maps and Apple Maps offer options to help you plan your trip.

Google Maps.
(Nicholas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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You can get a very accurate traffic forecast for a future date based on what the conditions look like on that day and time. Then you can set your departure time to find the perfect time to hit the road.

Here’s how to set the planned date and time for a trip in Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on File search here area.
  • Enter a Destination and select it from the results.
  • Faucet directione Then press Three dots button to the right of your location field.
  • Faucet Set departure or arrival time.
  • Choose leave in and enter the date and time, then click did. You will get many route options and details like time and distance.
  • Select a road and press beginning.

Tap or click here to find out the best time to leave based on when you want to arrive — and steps for doing both in Apple Maps.

Watch your luggage

Losing your bag during a flight is a burden, and it’s even worse when you have gifts folded in your bag. It’s easy to know where your bag is as long as you have a tracker inside.

Apple AirTags are quarter-sized trackers that use Bluetooth technology from other iPhones to locate them. You can see the location of each AirTag associated with your account using the Find My app.

The quarter-sized Apple device allows users to keep track of their personal items via Bluetooth technology.

The quarter-sized Apple device allows users to keep track of their personal items via Bluetooth technology.
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tile trackers work similarly and are a good option for Android users.

It’s a good idea to put one in your checked baggage. This way, you can know if your bag will reach your destination. But there comes a time when a tracker is worthless: when your luggage is moving through the airport’s internal conveyor belt system. Once your luggage is out of there, you will know exactly where it is.

I have AirTags on my keys, in my cars, and on my dogs. Tap or tap for smart ways to get more out of these handy little trackers.

Make virtual gatherings fun

It is not always possible to see the whole family every year. Organizing virtual gatherings is much easier because we are used to it during the pandemic.

Don’t spend a Zoom call or Google Meet wishing everyone would stop arguing about politics. Here are three simple ways to liven up your online encounter:

  • Give everyone time to talk: Choose a mentor and tell your family members to be ready to talk for a few minutes. I suggest a time limit, so that your more talkative relatives don’t linger. My favorite is to ask for funny family stories.
  • Play a game together: Bingo is always a big hit, and you can deal cards for free from this site. If you prefer a Pictionary-like game, try Drawasaurus. Up to 16 people can play.
  • Host a talent show: If your family is full of artists, have a short show for everyone. I can guarantee a lot of laughs and maybe a knockout performance or two.

Jingle bell rock together: How to create and share playlists with your loved ones.

HOW TO SCAN A QR CODE WITH YOUR IPHONE OR ANDROID PHONE (NO APPS NEEDED)

Don’t overpay on Amazon

Have you ever wondered if the rate you see on Amazon is the best rate or – the moment you check out – it will drop? This is where CamelCamelCamel comes in.

It’s a price comparison site that tracks the cost of millions of products on Amazon. You can use it to check if the item you’re considering is at a good price or if you should wait for a better deal. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to camelcamelcamel.com. Enter the Amazon URL for the product in the search bar, then press Enter or the Search code.
  • Look at the chart for trends. You may notice that a product usually goes on sale during certain months or around the holidays.

To make your bargain-hunting easier, install the CamelCamelCamel browser extension, The Camelizer. Touch or click here for direct links to download and steps to use it.

For everything else, compare prices here

google shopping.

google shopping.
(Photo illustration by Igor Golovnyov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

No one has the time to go from one location to another or to a bunch of different physical stores to find the best price for something. Let Google Shopping do the hard work for you. It’s easy to use and shows you prices across almost any retailer you can think of.

  • Go to shopping.google.com.
  • Browse popular items, or search for what you’re looking for. Press Enter to see where you can buy it, and the price and shipping options.
  • Use the filters on the left side of the page to narrow down your results. You can filter by sales, items available for nearby pickup, and more.

Here’s a nice bonus: you can even buy things there without having to create a new account if you have payment information associated with your Google account. Select a file buy on google Filter to see your options.

Google Smart: 10 search tricks to find what you’re looking for faster on Google.

My broadcast selection: AirPods as hearing aids, PayPal warning, Twitter alternatives

In 30 minutes, you’ll learn 1: How to find your phone’s hidden privacy report, 2: The secret to kicking hackers out of your Netflix account, and 3: The tried-and-true way to clean up your messy photo gallery.

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Copyright 2023, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. By clicking on the shopping links you are supporting my research. As an Amazon member, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases. I only recommend products that I believe in.

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