Hurry Up and Wait
By Monica Spilman | Posted on 03.29.17
Studies estimate that the average American, over the span of a lifetime, spends two years waiting in line. Two years doing something boring but productive would be bad enough, but two years waiting in line just seems wrong. If only we could all coordinate our schedules to avoid these pointless wastes of time. Well, as it turns out, we are getting closer to making this a reality. There are some great apps and websites emerging that crowdsource data to predict crowds, wait times and traffic so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
Avoid extra time at the airport. It’s always hard to know what time to leave for the airport, especially with the recent news headlines touting “Record Security Wait Times.” So, if you are like me, this usually means leaving extra early and sitting at the gate for way too long. Next time you fly, try downloading the “MiFlight” or “My TSA” apps. They rely on user-reported information to estimate how long the security wait time is at any airport and gate. Then, once you get through security, just pay it forward and add your own wait time to the app. The more people using the apps, the more reliable they will be.
Plan your vacation to avoid the crowds. Possibly my favorite recent discovery is “IsItPacked.com.” This website gives both up-to-the-minute and long-term information about crowds at some of the most popular travel destinations, venues and attractions, such as national parks, theme parks, vacation spots, zoos and aquariums. It tells you the best and worst times of year to go, what the crowds are like today and location-specific tips for beating the crowds. I will never plan a vacation without consulting it again.
Drive when traffic is light. Flexible as to when you need to run an errand? Try the Planned Drive feature on the “Waze” app. It uses historical data to calculate how long specific routes will take at any time of day. Just open Waze, type in the destination, and then instead of pressing “Go now,” press the “Later” button. You can then select any day up to one week in the future and pick an arrival time based on the predicted travel time. Once you save the drive, Waze will monitor the live traffic leading up to your drive and alert you a few minutes before you need to leave in order to arrive at the time you selected.
Skip the line at the MVA. I know, I know: “Never go to the MVA without an appointment.” Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice. If you must go to the MVA without an appointment, do yourself a favor and check out “MVA.Maryland.gov.” From the homepage, you will see a link to “Check Wait Time at Local Service Center.” It will break down the number of people waiting and the approximate wait time at your local MVA location, based on the service they are waiting for (license renewal, driver test, registration, etc.). You can also look at nearby locations to compare wait times.
Now, what are you going to do with your extra two years?