Last year, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving at home but it didn’t go off without a couple of mini hitches, like jamming the garbage disposal (here’s how to unclog it, should it ever happen to you) and losing the Roku remote for an hour, so I couldn’t watch the football game. Buy a Roku streaming stick here.

Just to paint the whole picture for you, I turned the house upside down looking for that remote. I looked in the pantry, the washer and dryer, my pockets (four times), the garbage can, the recycling bin, between the cushions, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the kids’ toy baskets, inside the refrigerator, in the freezer, in the Christmas tree. Upstairs, downstairs. Basically everywhere. And then again. Our 15-month-old is obsessed with remotes so we figured she literally could have put it anywhere.

Finally, after I thought I was losing my mind, I asked my wife and four-year-old son to help. First, Natalie frisked me, just to make sure I didn’t have it on me. After 10 minutes, I was so desperate I even asked my 15-month-old for help. We seriously thought she was the culprit since she likes to grab it and run. Then all of a sudden, after about an hour, Jack shouts triumphantly, “I found it!” It was in his little lazy boy chair in a secret pocket in the back that I didn’t even know existed. He said he put it there for safe keeping. Oh, it was safe alright.

After publishing the story, a reader wrote to me and reminded me that there’s a Roku remote app. She said:

“I just read your newsletter about the missing Roku remote and wanted you to know there’s an awesome Roku Remote app out there for IOS and Android. I love it because I had a problem with the Streaming Stick + remotes that kept failing as soon as warranty was up and finally decided to give it a try instead of paying for replacement Roku remote… it’s awesome!! It a great way to use for an old old phone with WiFi… I think it’s even better. Keep up the great travel newsletters, Margie.”

Well, Margie is exactly right (thanks for the reminder!) because after I read her email, I remembered I already had the app on my phone. I just had to update it and it worked great. The only thing it’s missing is volume controls but it’s a great backup if you ever lose the actual remote. And this applies to many devices, not just to Roku. Many other streaming devices allow you to use your phone as a remote. I like to use StayConnect when I’m traveling. This app lets me control the hotel TV from my phone so I don’t have to touch the remote since we all know that it’s one of the dirtiest things in a hotel room. You can also check out this Universal remote for iOS and this TV remote control for Android.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a great gadget to have. We have reduced our cable bill because of it (we can just stream from our cable provider using the app) and we have access to all of our streaming platforms in one place. My wife loves that the latest version of the Roku Streaming Stick+ includes access to AppleTV and her entire Apple Library, as well as all the other services you’d expect like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, Showtime, HBO, even Nick, Nick JR and Noggin for the little ones. According to Wired, “the Streaming Stick Plus is the best Roku for most people” and I tend to agree. I love that you don’t see any wires if you’re attaching it to a wall-mounted TV, it’s so easy to use and it’s so tiny, you can take it with you when you travel, plug it into any TV and have access to all your shows wherever you go. It makes a great gift for you or someone on your holiday shopping list this year!

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