New Google Maps Feature Will Alert You to Coronavirus Restrictions

If masks are required on your bus, Google Maps will give you a heads-up.
If masks are required on your bus, Google Maps will give you a heads-up.
David Espejo/iStock via Getty Images

To help people travel as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic, Google Maps is rolling out a new update that includes government restrictions, public transit alerts, and other details relevant to your route.

As Travel + Leisure explains, the app will tell you if public transit service has been scaled back or suspended due to the pandemic, and you’ll also have access to real-time reports on how crowded a station is (as compared to its usual capacity levels). That way, you can find out beforehand whether you’ll be able to maintain social distancing at a certain time, and maybe even delay your departure until you know it’s less populated. Once you’re on your way, you can help future travelers by reporting how busy your train or bus is right in the app: Options range from “Not crowded (There’s lots of seats)” to “Full (Not picking up passengers).”

Avoiding those overcrowded subway cars is easier—and more important—than ever.Google

According to a Google blog post, the company is working with local, state, and federal government officials to make sure important regulations—like which transit systems require commuters to wear masks—are relayed to app users. In addition to public transit notifications, Google Maps will alert drivers to any border restrictions along their routes, starting with the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, with plans to expand to other countries soon.

If your destination is a healthcare facility or COVID-19 testing center, Google Maps will remind you to check the guidelines for that specific institution before you leave, since some require you to make an appointment in advance or can only accommodate drive-through visitors.

iOS and Android users who live in the U.S. should start seeing the new features in the next few weeks, though it does depend on how much data Google can access in your area. Learn more about the update—and see which other countries it’s headed to—here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

12 Creative Ways to Spend Your FSA Money Before the Deadline

stockfour/iStock via Getty Images
stockfour/iStock via Getty Images

If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), chances are, time is running out for you to use that cash. Depending on your employer’s rules, if you don’t spend your FSA money by the end of the grace period, you potentially lose some of it. Lost cash is never a good thing.

For those unfamiliar, an FSA is an employer-sponsored spending account. You deposit pre-tax dollars into the account, and you can spend that money on a number of health care expenses. It’s kind of like a Health Savings Account (HSA), but with a few big differences—namely, your HSA funds roll over from year to year, so there’s no deadline to spend it all. With an FSA, though, most of your funds expire at the end of the year. Bummer.

The good news is: The law allows employers to roll $500 over into the new year and also offer a grace period of up to two and a half months to use that cash (March 15). Depending on your employer, you might not even have that long, though. The deadline is fast approaching for many account holders, so if you have to use your FSA money soon, here are a handful of creative ways to spend it.

1. Buy some new shades.

Head to the optometrist, get an eye prescription, then use your FSA funds to buy some new specs or shades. Contact lenses and solution are also covered.

You can also buy reading glasses with your FSA money, and you don’t even need a prescription.

2. Try acupuncture.

Scientists are divided on the efficacy of acupuncture, but some studies show it’s useful for treating chronic pain, arthritis, and even depression. If you’ve been curious about the treatment, now's a good time to try it: Your FSA money will cover acupuncture sessions in some cases. You can even buy an acupressure mat without a prescription.

If you’d rather go to a chiropractor, your FSA funds cover those visits, too.

3. Stock up on staples.

If you’re running low on standard over-the-counter meds, good news: Most of them are FSA-eligible. This includes headache medicine, pain relievers, antacids, heartburn meds, and anything else your heart (or other parts of your body) desires.

There’s one big caveat, though: Most of these require a prescription in order to be eligible, so you may have to make an appointment with your doctor first. The FSA store tells you which over-the-counter items require a prescription.

4. Treat your feet.

Give your feet a break with a pair of massaging gel shoe inserts. They’re FSA-eligible, along with a few other foot care products, including arch braces, toe cushions, and callus trimmers.

In some cases, foot massagers or circulators may be covered, too. For example, here’s one that’s available via the FSA store, no prescription necessary.

5. Get clear skin.

Yep—acne treatments, toner, and other skin care products are all eligible for FSA spending. Again, most of these require a prescription for reimbursement, but don’t let that deter you. Your doctor is familiar with the rules and you shouldn’t have trouble getting a prescription. And, as WageWorks points out, your prescription also lasts for a year. Check the rules of your FSA plan to see if you need a separate prescription for each item, or if you can include multiple products or drug categories on a single prescription.

While we’re on the topic of faces, lip balm is another great way to spend your FSA funds—and you don’t need a prescription for that. There’s also no prescription necessary for this vibrating face massager.

6. Fill your medicine cabinet.

If your medicine cabinet is getting bare, or you don’t have one to begin with, stock it with a handful of FSA-eligible items. Here are some items that don’t require a prescription:

You can also stock up on first aid kits. You don’t need a prescription to buy those, and many of them come with pain relievers and other medicine.

7. Make sure you’re covered in the bedroom.

Condoms are FSA-eligible, and so are pregnancy tests, monitors, and fertility kits. Female contraceptives are also covered when you have a prescription.

8. Prepare for your upcoming vacation.

If you have a vacation planned this year, use your FSA money to stock up on trip essentials. For example:

9. Get a better night’s sleep.

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep aids are eligible, though you’ll need a prescription. If you want to try a sleep mask, many of them are eligible without a prescription. For example, there’s this relaxing sleep mask and this thermal eye mask.

For those nights you’re sleeping off a cold or flu, a vaporizer can make a big difference, and those are eligible, too (no prescription required). Bed warmers like this one are often covered, too.

Your FSA funds likely cover more than you realize, so if you have to use them up by the deadline, get creative. This list should help you get started, and many drugstores will tell you which items are FSA-eligible when you shop online.

10. Go to the dentist.

While basics like toothpaste and cosmetic procedures like whitening treatments aren’t FSA eligible, most of the expenses you incur at your dentist’s office are. That includes co-pays and deductibles as well as fees for cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and even the cost of braces. There are also some products you can buy over-the-counter without ever visiting the dentist. Some mouthguards that prevent you from grinding your teeth at night are eligible, as are cleaning solutions for retainers and dentures.

11. Try some new gadgets.

If you still have some extra cash to burn, it’s a great time to try some expensive high-tech devices that you’ve been curious about but might not otherwise want to splurge on. The list includes light therapy treatments for acne, vibrating nausea relief bands, electrical stimulation devices for chronic pain, cloud-connected stethoscopes, and smart thermometers.

12. Head to Amazon.

There are plenty of FSA-eligible items available on Amazon, including items for foot health, cold and allergy medication, eye care, and first-aid kits. Find out more details on how to spend your FSA money on Amazon here.

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The Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Electronics, Clothing, Kitchen Products, and More

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Sure, you can go to the usual spots like Amazon and Walmart for Black Friday, but you'd be missing out on so many great deals from a range of different online shops. If you're curious about branching out, check out some of the best bargains we found below. This list will be updated through Cyber Monday, so keep checking back for more sales. 

Moosejaw

The North Face/Moosejaw

Start prepping for your favorite outdoor winter activities with Moosejaw. During the brand's Thanksgiving sale, get 30 percent off products from The North Face, Columbia, Marmot, and more. You can also get a gift card until December 6 when you spend more than $99 and use the code FREEMONEY2020. On Cyber Monday, get 50 percent back in Moosejaw Reward Points on purchases with the code CYBERTURKEY.

iRobot

iRobot

The robot vacuum company iRobot is offering great deals this holiday season. Starting now, you can get $200 off select iRobot Roomba Robot Vacuums. The company is also taking $20-$100 off mops and up to $50 off coding robots. If you are looking to get both a vacuum and mop, make sure to check out the exclusive bundles to save up to $380. Orders over $29.99 get free shipping. 

ShopDisney

Disney/ShopDisney

If you want to bring the wonderful world of Disney home, ShopDisney's Magical Savings Event is offering 40 percent off from now until November 29. From November 25 at 3 p.m. PT until November 27, you'll also get an extra 20 percent off sitewide. Then, starting November 29, ShopDisney is offering tiered discounts: so, when you spend $50, you'll get 15 percent off; spend $75 and get 20 percent off; spend $100 and get 25 percent off; or spend $150 and get 30 percent off. 

Hot Topic

Funko/Hot Topic

Hot Topic has already started its Black Friday sale online, which includes deals on Funko Pops (buy two, get one free), pajamas, T-shirts, collectibles, and plenty more. These prices are valid through November 29.

CBS All Access

Looking to catch up on the new show Star Trek: Picard or watch the first 10 seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race? Then CBS All Access is where you should be heading. Get one free month by using the code TURKEY at checkout. This deal is available until November 30.

Gap

Gap

For those looking to add some great items to their wardrobe this winter, the Gap is offering 50 percent off sitewide, plus an extra 10 percent off when you use the code GAPFRIDAY at checkout through November 28.

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices

Get 50-70 percent off select styles from Outdoor Voices, one of the premier sportswear and athleisure brands. New customers will also get an additional 20 percent off orders over $100. The sale runs through November 26. 

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Ever wished you'd learned a second language but never had the time to do it? Rosetta Stone makes it easy with its online language-learning programs which are now discounted for Black Friday. Get a three-month subscription for just $12 per month, a 12-month subscription for $8 per month, or unlimited lifetime access for a one-time payment of $189. Make sure to take advantage of these deals before they disappear on December 6. 

Coursera

Coursera

If you've been looking to expand your horizons a bit, check out Coursera's Black Friday deals. Until December 4, you can nab a free course focused on creative exploration and personal growth, like the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design class from the MoMa or the Science of Well-Being class from Yale University.

Wayfair

GE Appliances/Wayfair

For those looking to spruce up their home for the holiday, check out Wayfair's Black Friday Salewhere you can get up to 80 percent off major items like GE appliances and rugs. Wayfair is also holding its annual Holiday Sale, featuring up to 60 percent off almost everything from holiday decorations to outdoor furniture.

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