We’ve all experienced the headaches of dealing with bureaucracy.  Unfortunately, it’s not completely avoidable.

The good news is, there are some tricks to help you bypass a lot of the pain (and wasted time).

I’ve got three tips for you today that have saved me a tremendous amount of time over the years.  Let’s start with the DMV.


Shorter Wait Times at the DMV

It’s simple: make an appointment.

That’s it.  In fact, it’s so easy that I don’t understand why more people don’t do it.  There’s always a long line of standby folks waiting for hours when I get there.

But my line is much shorter.

I get there, I check in, I sit down (yes, a lot of them have chairs if you made an appointment). They call my name a few minutes later when my turn comes up.  Easy!

There are a few specific services that don’t allow you to make appointments.  But the majority of things you may need (license renewal, vehicle registration, driver’s test, etc.) allow you to make an appointment.

It’s important to mention that this is how things work with the California DMV.  Most states have something similar, so you’ll have to check with the DMV in your state.

It almost feels silly to mention something so obvious, but making an appointment can save you hours of standing in line.


Goodbye Polling Booths

If you like skipping lines, here’s another tip for you.

Register to vote as a permanent by-mail (absentee) voter.

As an absentee voter, your ballot will be mailed to your permanent address in advance of election day.  This allows you to fill out the ballot at your leisure, as long as you mail it in by the deadline.

This also means you don’t have to drive to a polling place and wait in line to cast your vote.

And if for some reason you forget to mail your ballot on time, you can still drop off your completed ballot at your designated polling place on election day.

Check out this list for a link to your state’s absentee ballot application.


Streamlining Air Travel

It’s funny depressing how much time we spend in line for government services.

If you’ve done any air travel in recent years, you’ve probably discovered that security lines seem to get longer and longer.  Also, you have to take off more clothing before being allowed through.

What if there was a way to go back to the good old days when you could leave your shoes on?  When you could leave your liquids in your carry-on?

Turns out, there actually is.

Of course, that assumes that you are a U.S. citizen and that you haven’t committed certain crimes.

It’s called TSA Pre-Check, and it’s awesome.

You fill out an online application and pay an application processing fee of $85.  As part of the application, you pick a time to go in-person to an application center.

At your appointment (which is quite short, mine was about 5 minutes), they ask you some questions and you have to sign an agreement stating that you understand everything that was covered, and that you are providing accurate information.

Then the government does a background check on you, and if everything looks good, they send you a KTN, or “Known Traveller Number”.

Once you have your KTN, you can add it to your booking reservations.  Then you’ll see “TSA Pre-Check” printed at the top of your boarding passes, and that means you can use the short security line.

In the Pre-Check line:

  • the wait is shorter
  • you can leave your shoes on
  • you can leave your jacket on
  • you can leave your liquids in your bag
  • you can leave your laptop in your bag

Like I said, it’s awesome.

The one drawback is that it costs $85 to go through the process, but the KTN lasts for five years.  So if you travel a couple of times per year, I think it’s certainly worth it.

After trying it the first time, you’ll feel less stressed about having to get to the airport so early.

There are also three other Trusted Traveler programs: Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI.  Each of these programs come with different eligibility criteria and benefits.  Some are for international travel, etc.  Check out the DHS comparison list if you want to learn more about these other programs.




These three items have saved me a lot of time and trouble over the years, and I hope they will do the same for you!

And if you use other government hacks, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!