When you’re traveling to a foreign destination, here are 3 ways you can most efficiently breeze through security and customs. There are so many variables that I cannot possibly cover every scenario but the following will help you with at least 3 of the best things you can do to start.
I’m a travel advisor but I am in no way a government authority. In my experience, however, I’ve seen and heard a lot when it comes to this topic. This is another main reason why you will want to hire a professional travel advisor. Each traveler will have their own personal circumstance and between the both of you, your travels will be a more seamless experience.
You have to be prepared for certain things that may happen when you travel that could delay your trip or cause you to cancel altogether. The goal is to do everything you can to avoid that happening, right?
Your trip, whether it’s domestic or international, starts with your identification. Not just any ol’ identification but the appropriate government ID necessary for travel to your destination. Between the airline, TSA, customs, and other foreign authorities, you need to make sure you have the correct details down to how your initials appear on your documents. I apologize if this sounds like a drag or mundane but it’s one of those things that can really ruin your travel plans.
Sometimes I feel like Mrs. Potato Head packing my clients with an extra pair of shoes and cheese puffs. (from the Toy Story movie)
Your trip details start with your passport for international travel and state issued ID for domestic travel. ALL of your travel documents, especially your airline tickets need to read exactly what your identification reads. If you get to the airport, you could get denied boarding or find yourself having to purchase a new ticket. Travelers get denied entering the country they are already in because they didn’t check to see if a visa was required or other paperwork required to enter. Have you heard of the $160 reciprocity fee for Argentina? That was a thing.
Anyways, once you have your passport, you can apply for the following so that when you return, you can breeze through customs while most others are waiting in the long lines. This really stinks if you’re having to do this on a connecting flight and time is of the essence.
These are ways to register for pre-screening security for your upcoming travels.
1.) TSA Pre✓® -5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your:
shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
This is for US domestic travel which I recommend for a much smoother security screening experience. Please keep in mind that even though there is a special line at the airport specifically for TSA Precheck passengers, that doesn’t mean they have this line open all the time. There is no guarantee in travel. Yes, you may have this benefit but may still have to go to the general line for whatever reason. Some passengers get listed with this benefit without even registering. Next time you print your boarding pass, make sure to see if you’ve been cleared as a TSA Precheck passenger.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how they come up with this lottery system but that’s what it feels like sometimes…a lottery! But if you travel several times a year, I think it’s worth it.
2.) Global Entry – Benefits for Global Entry Members
Your time is valuable. As a pre-screened Global Entry member, you arrive in the United States, check-in at the Global Entry kiosk and you’re on your way. So what are you waiting for?
-No processing lines
-Access to expedited entry benefits in other countries
-Available at major U.S. airports
-Reduced wait times
-TSA Pre✓® Eligibility
Now this is the way to go, I think! I recommend this to my international travelers but this is also great for domestic travelers too because you get 2 for the price of one. The TSA Pre✓® Eligibility is included with this one and it’s $100 for a 5 year membership. Again, nothing is guaranteed in travel but even if you travel 2 or three times in the next 5 years, it’s worth it, right?
3.) The Mobile Passport app speeds you through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 2 cruise ports and 25 airports.
If you didn’t have the time needed to complete the process for the top two options then at least download this free app. It’s not in all the airports yet, but it’s growing in the nation. You can even compliment your Global Entry with this app so that you can pick the shortest line available to you.
Oooh by the way, when I started this topic, I hadn’t personally used the passport app. I was selected for the TSA Precheck once or twice before on other trips. It wasn’t until I returned from my trip to Israel and landed in LAX that I was so glad to have downloaded this app before I left for my trip. After a 15 hour flight, I just wanted to get out of the airport and go home. It was wonderful! I had a taste of what the high profile celebrities feel like getting through with special treatment in places while the peasant folk had to wait in the longer lines. I’m a believer!
Just look for the Mobile Passport app signs with the logo that matches your app, follow the instructions on the app and voila, you’re free as a bird.
By the way, if you want to review all of the Trusted Traveler Programs available, you can read about them here: https://goo.gl/fgQAop There’s a nifty comparison tool!
The best thing to do is consult with a professional travel advisor such as myself. Together we can make sure you have the most pleasant travel experience ever.
Enjoy this amazing travel inspiration-worthy video! You deserve this after reading through this boring but yet important information.