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How to Outsmart a Smart Room

If you’ve traveled in Europe or Asia lately, you’re probably familiar with the wall slots where you slip your key card to turn on the electricity in hotel rooms. In many ways, they’re genius. They keep guests from leaving a room for 12 hours with all the lights on and the air conditioner running full blast. As an added bonus, you never have to wonder what you did with your key card when you’re getting ready to leave the room. You just grab it out of the slot on your way out and head out the door.

However, for the electronics-dependent traveler, there’s a fairly serious hitch. Since you cut the power every time you remove the keycard from the wall slot, you can’t simply leave a phone or a camera plugged in and hope that it will recharge while you’re out. Because … it won’t. It will sit there, powerless, until you come back in, put the card in the slot again and allow it to resume charging. And then you’ll wander over, ready to use the device again and wonder why it’s still only 4 percent charged.

Happily, this is one of those situations where human ingenuity can still—for now at least—triumph over smart technology. Nearly all hotels still offer guests two key cards. If you’re traveling alone, just keep one card in the slot. It’s of course preferable to turn off the lights before you go and turn the air down, but by keeping the card in its place, you’ll maintain power to the electrical sockets, and keep that juice flowing to your electronics. If you’re traveling with a companion, negotiate times when you’re out together to sacrifice one of the cards to the altar of electricity and keep the other with you so you can get back into the room.

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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