We know Long Islanders are short on time, but fear not: we’re here to help you save precious minutes (hours, even!) and cut time spent waiting in lines and battling crowds. From mobile apps that let you order and pay in advance to health care and beauty services open at odd hours, here's your ticket to the express lane.
Skip the line
Nothing drains you like waiting for your number to be called at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many Long Island branches now accept online reservations for many transactions. What's more, routine tasks such as changing your address or renewing a standard license can be handled completely online.
Visit a Starbucks during peak hours and the often-snaking line might motivate you to — finally — download the mobile app, so you can order and pay seamlessly and proceed directly (if not smugly) to the pickup counter. Such order-ahead for pickup service is rampantly available at food chains from Chipotle to Panera Bread to Shake Shack and Dunkin'--and you'll earn rewards points for mobile orders.
Target's newly launched Drive Up service streamlines shopping for household staples. Use the retailer's mobile app to load your cart (not all items are eligible) and check out, then ping the store when you're on your way and your order will be brought to you when you pull into a designated parking spot. Similarly, many Long Island grocery stores now offer online ordering for home delivery (for a fee). ShopRite's mobile app can shave time off your trip, too. Just pre-order your deli counter items, and scan your own cart to skip the checkout line -- or order ahead for pickup.
AT THE AIRPORT
The pain of a long line to clear security screening has a way of hitting the hardest when you've gotten to the airport later than you should have. One insurance ticket: the TSA Precheck program. Complete an online application and book an appointment for a brief in-person background check. Those who pass get expedited through a designated line the agency says moved 94 percent of travelers through in less than five minutes in January 2019. The cost is $85 for five years of clearance.
When you're sick, every minute trapped in the waiting room counts, so some urgent care chains now provide a range of online services. CityMD's Long Island locations post current estimated wait times for each office, while PMPediatrics locations invite parents to check in virtually before leaving home. Northwell Health's GoHealth centers do both.
The real pain of getting your blood drawn might come in finding a lab that checks all your boxes: Location, operating hours, insurance coverage and waiting time. One sanity-saver: Good Samaritan Hospital's walk-in laboratory is open seven days a week (including 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays). Being a hospital, it works with most major insurance carriers and has staffers who specialize in drawing blood from small children.
Beauty and fitness
Getting a mani-pedi after dinner is practically out of the question, as most salons close by 7 p.m., but Polish Nail Bar locations in Wantagh and Smithtown take appointments as late as 9 p.m. With an upbeat vibe and an on-site bar serving wine, beer and espresso, it has all the makings of a ladies night. Kozy Nails in Huntington Station is open until 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Blowout bars (salons that specialize in quick-service styling) make quick work of messy hair, with results that can last several days. If you've failed to make an appointment, walk-ins are welcome at Blow Curl & Dye salon in North Massepequa, where a wash and style costs $16-$20.
AT THE GYM
24 Hour Fitness locations in Valley Stream, Massapequa and Bay Shore are indeed open around the clock. World Gyms' four Long Island locations recently launched a new service that invites visitors to pay by the minute of their workout — you can hit the free weights in Coram for 16 cents a minute or clock an hour on the treadmill in Wantagh for $16.20, powered by a mobile fitness app called Popin.
Food and entertaining
DINNER PARTY TO-GO
You can pull a crowd-pleasing dinner together fast with Vincent's Clam Bar's (Carle Place) family meal takeout deals. Choose a pasta, main entree and a salad or vegetable for $38.95 (feeds four) on a weeknight or opt for the Sunday version that feeds 5-6 people for $41.95 (available noon-4 p.m.). Satiate hungry teenagers on the fly with Chipotle's burritos-by-the-box: you can get 6-19 standard-issue burritos assembled, wrapped and ready for pickup with 2 hours' notice, plus chips, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
A NOSH ANYTIME
A&S Bagels in Franklin Square is one of a handful of 24-hour bagel shops on Long Island. Instead of the simple plain, poppy or sesame bagels found after hours, A&S offers unusual flavors such as French toast, cheddar cheese and blueberry. For elaborate heroes, wraps and salads with cute names, the Cherry Valley Deli in West Hempstead is also open around the clock.
PRESENTS ON DEMAND
Forgot to send a bouquet? Cover your tracks with 1-800-FLOWERS' new SmartGift service. The Carle Place-based retailer will send your loved one a text message with options to choose their own delivery date or keep/exchange what you chose. But also know this: Independent florists have been bailing out people for decades, so you also can call to see what they have available for same-day delivery.
Around the house
DONATIONS FOR PICK UP
From used clothing, linens and toys to knickknacks, books, cookware and old luggage, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island's donation center will come to your doorstep and take it away. For furniture and bulkier items, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul schedules pickups throughout Nassau (516-746-8250) and Suffolk (631-858-0380) for those who have at least two pieces of gently used furniture — no cribs or mattresses.
Eliminate the drop-off and pick-up chore by using a service that comes to you. Among the larger Long Island operations: WashClub trucks fetch and deliver laundry from the doorsteps of private homes, businesses and college dorms from West Hempstead to Brookhaven. Just put your bagged clothes out by 9 p.m., and they'll be cleaned and returned to the same spot 24 hours later ($25 minimum).
No more scavenging for empty boxes — the United States Postal Service delivers free Priority Mail envelopes, boxes and labels to your doorstep by request — including tubes and other hard-to-find sizes. Order a free batch of 10 or 25 (smaller quantities can be picked up in person at postal counters) and you'll be ready when those old collectibles finally sell on eBay (note: you'll need to pay Priority Mail postage rates for items packed with these materials).
Make a mess at someone else's place. Do-it-yourself pet wash stations supply the soap, hose and sense of humor needed for giving your dog a good scrubdown. You'll find them at retail stores including PetValu locations and Pet Supplies in Smithtown. Walk-ins are welcome at Woofer Wash in Garden City: You get an apron and gloves, and Fido gets tearless shampoo and apricot conditioner. Staffers on hand may be able to squeeze in a pro nail or hair trim around the eyes or paws ($18.40 for 30-minute wash station; a la carte grooming fees).
From floor strippers to pressure washers, having the right tools for the job makes the chore go faster. Most Home Depot stores rent power tools, lawn-care equipment and more. Search what's available online.
A pit stop at an auto supply store could spare you a day wasted at the mechanic's shop. Advance Auto Parts locations offer courtesy services such as check engine light scanning and starter/alternator/battery testings, plus free installation with the purchase of windshield wipers and car batteries.
While car rental companies aren't yet delivering vehicles directly to customers on Long Island, branches are doing more to ease the logistics. Enterprise, Budget and Hertz offer free pickup service for those who need transportation to a rental counter. Avis recently launched a return curbside drop-off upgrade at 35 airport locations that lets renters skip the slog of the airport shuttle. Instead of handing over the car at the return counter, customers pick up a staffer, who drives the vehicle — passengers, luggage and all — the rest of the way to the terminal.
If you have to commit several hours to a refresher on safe driving, why not do it in your pajamas on the couch? Department of Motor Vehicles-approved virtual defensive driving courses are administered online with self-paced sessions designed to help you chip away at the course one section at a time. Don't try any funny business — parameters are in place to ensure you're actually doing the coursework that will net you discounted insurance or a deduction on license points.