Category Archives: Travel Tips

How-tos, DIY, maps, advice

6 Reasons Global Entry is Worth It

In case you didn’t know, Global Entry is a travel program under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. It is a service that allows expedited clearance for low-risk travelers to enter the United States.

Travelers with Global Entry head to a kiosk and slide their passports into the passport reader, look up at the camera, scan their fingerprints for verification, and then complete a customs declaration. The kiosk prints out a receipt and travelers bring it to a Customs and Border Protection officer at the exit. This whole process can take 10 minutes or less. Below are 6 reasons why you should join this club:

Saves Time

You get to skip the customs line which can take up to an hour of wait time. Ain’t nobody got time for that! You won’t need to fill out the declaration form the flight attendants pass out on the plane. You can just fill out the form in the kiosk.

You can also use Global Entry at certain International airports such as Abu Dhabi, the Bahamas, Dublin, and Toronto – just to name a few. See the complete list of airports with Global Entry kiosks.

Easy Online Application

The online application is extremely easy and takes about 10 minutes to fill out. The application asks for work history, so make sure you can account for all gaps if any. You will need your valid passport and another document, like your birth certificate.

Fast Interview

I waited longer in the waiting room than the time I spent in the actual appointment. The only documents you will need to bring are your passport and another form of Ids, such as a government-issued ID or license. They scan your fingerprints and take a picture of you, and then you are on your way. The only thing con is finding the next available date for the appointment. To share my experience, when I filled out my GOES application (Global Online Enrollment System) at the end of February, I got approved 5 days later. The closest airport to me is Boston, but the next available appointment date was in September! I searched for other nearby airports and was able to book an appointment in New York at John F. Kennedy airport the next month.

TSA PreCheck Included

TSA PreCheck is $85, so why not invest the extra $15 for both? You will get the benefits of both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry and on top of that, skip the regular security lines. Big win, there is no need to take off your shoes or take out your laptop or liquids from your suitcase. I’ve gone through TSA PreCheck lines without having to take off my hoodie or my hat.

It Could be free

Global Entry will cost you $100 and is good for five years. If you think about it, that’s ONLY $20 per year. Select credit cards such as The Platinum Card from American Express, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, and Citi Prestige Card will waive your Global Entry fee, so you can essentially get it for free.

Even Easier to Renew Online

You can renew as early as a year before your expiration date. You have to log back into your GOES account and update any new information or confirm that nothing has changed. You will also have to update where you have traveled to in the last five years. Renewal will cost you another $100, but if you are renewing, you will know by now that it is worth the money. For Citi Prestige Card holders, the card company will credit you $100 every five years for Global Entry, which means it’ll always be free. Most people who renew do not need to go in for another interview. In some cases, you may be asked to.

If we haven’t convinced you to get Global Entry yet, the next time you are standing in the Custom’s line for an hour waiting to get back into the country, we hope you’ll think about this article. 🙂

Photo by Flickr Contributor Anne Worner

What Makes The Perfect Travel Buddy?

We asked a few road-trippers and travel gurus whose had the experience of traveling with a plus one. You think your best friend or the friend’s friend’s friend that you met on Facebook may be qualified? Think again. While there is no guarantee that you’ll have the most epic trip, here are top 7 things to think about that will make sure you have the best possible time:

1. Pretty obvious, but first and most important, make sure you and the person get along. Depending on how long you two will be traveling together make sure you’re comfortable being silent together as well. You can’t talk the whole time and I’m sure you will both want some alone time.

2. You both have the same goals for the trip. If one person wants to see museums and one wants to pull all-nighters partying,  your vacation will not be the best experience it can be.

3. Find someone who has the same travel style as you do. Are you the type who maps out all the famous landmarks and doesn’t want to deviate from the schedule at all. Or are you the one who does who not have a schedule at all and will go where the adventure takes you?

4. Have the same budget or at least an idea of how much you’re going to want to spend. Nothing ruins a trip more than not being able to do something because your buddy doesn’t have the funds.

5. Have the similar interests. What type of food do you want to eat? Are you sure your buddy wants the same? How about staying at a hostel while your partner wants to stay at the hotel? While you don’t need all the same exact interest, make sure you’ll both be fine with compromising if the need arises.

6. Have offsetting strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you can’t tell your left from your right but your partner has a great sense of direction. Maybe you’re great with what to see, while your partner has no clue. Nothing enriches a trip more than experiencing something you otherwise might not have, or having someone there to know what to do when you’re clueless.

7. Make sure you both can travel for the same length of time. If you don’t have the same amount of travel time set aside for the trip, make sure you have plans in place to part ways.

If you and your travel buddy have everything covered on this list, you’re on your way to a memorable and enjoyable adventure. Bon voyage!

Image Courtesy: Canva

JetBlue offering free flights to those affected by Orlando tragedy

This past weekend in Orlando, Florida, a gunman entered Pulse nightclub killing 49 people and wounding many more. It is the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history.  

Due to the tragedy, JetBlue Airlines is offering free flights to and from Orlando to immediate family members and domestic partners of those injured or killed. The airline is also waiving the fee to customers traveling to or from Orlando who want to change travel plans. For travel assistance, call 1-800-JETBLUE. 

#PrayForOrlando 

Image courtesy of: backgroundsy.com

Passports for domestic flights UPDATE

A few months ago I posted a blog about how passports will be needed to board domestic flights. Well, there has been an update!

These are the states that are non-compliant with the REAL ID Act and have not been granted an extension. Don’t worry; if you have an ID from one  of these non-compliant states, the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t enforced it yet, and the TSA still has to give 120 days notice before they no longer accept drivers’ licenses.

  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Washington

And these states have been granted waivers extensions which will expire on October 10, 2016.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire*
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia

*New Hampshire has been granted a waiver extension that will expire June 1, 2016.

These states’ waiver extensions are still pending review. They were previously granted waivers that will expire January 10, 2016.

  • Alaska
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • South Carolina

The lucky Americans with drivers licenses from these states do not have to worry one bit. Their licenses already comply with the REAL ID Act.

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If you don’t already have a passport, I say you should still get one ASAP. Sooner or later, passports will be the norm for boarding any flight. Like my favorite rapper Fabolous said, “If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready!”

Source: Homeland Security, CNN
Image: courtesy of clipartbest.com

Traveling during a Worldwide Travel Alert

Our thoughts and prayers are still with the friends and families of the 130 innocent people who lost their lives and the hundreds who were wounded in Paris, France. Hearing such horrific terrorist acts does discourage travelers to travel less. The fear that terrorists are trying to instill in all of us innocent people is crippling. But I believe continuing with our plans and dreams is a step closer to healing and standing against this evil. I like to believe I’m a true wanderlust, so it’ll take a lot more than terrorism to stop me from exploring the world.

The U.S. Department believes that terrorists will continue to plan attacks, so they issued a Worldwide Travel Alert for U.S. citizens. The Travel Alert is in full effect and expires next year on February 24, 2016. If you’re ballsy like me and will be traveling in the near future, here are some tips from the Department:

  • Exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.
  • Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places.
  • Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.
  • Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).

If you’re wondering what STEP is, it’s a free service for U. S. Citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  The benefits are that you will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrolling would help the Embassy contact you better in case of natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. It will also help your family and friends get in contact with you in case of an emergency. Safe travels!

Source: U.S. Department of State

Travel Deal – Milan, Italy

Good news, fellow wanderlusts! Emirates has a great deal to Milan, Italy for as low as $550 USD per person. What’s the catch? You just have to book economy class for two people, which totals up to $1099 USD. This trip is a round-trip, non-stop flight from JFK airport. There is a 3 day minimum stay and 3 months maximum stay for outbound travel between November 20 through November 23, 2015, December 1 through December 03, 2015, January 07, 2015 through March 16, 2016 and April 10, 2016 through May 26, 2016. Travel must be completed on or before May 30, 2016. Some black out dates apply. Read here for more Terms and Conditions. The deal ends November 16, 2015, so hurry up. Grab your travel partner and buy those tickets!

Image: Victor Emmanuel Gallery from emoticonswallpapers.com