Travelling can be a joy, a way of unburdening yourself from your daily cares and learning to relax again. However, travelling can also mean standing in lines and frustration with just getting 'there', or getting home!
With this post I'd like to talk a little bit about one big thing you can do to make your travel experience a little less taxing and stressful, and to share a few insights of the experienced traveler...
The big thing I'd like to introduce you to is TSA Precheck. This is the best money you can spend if you fly with any amount of regularity. TSA Precheck allows you your own security lane where you don't have to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, your 3-1-1 liquids, or your laptop from your bag! This alone is worth the price of admission!
Alright, I feel like I have got your attention on this one, I can hear you just begging me to tell you how much it costs. The simple answer is $85, however, I hate to say it, but wait there's more! If you are seriously considering TSA Precheck, and I think you should, you may as well spend $15 more and get Global Re-entry. So, for $100 this program gives you TSA Precheck, and all of it's benefits, as well as expedited re-entry back into the U.S. when you leave the country. Again, just like security is a bottle neck trying to just get to your flight, which Precheck can greatly reduce, Customs and Immigration lines, when returning to the U.S. from abroad, can be a major time vacuum and stress. Global Re-entry is the answer to save time and aggravation coming home!
Another option for you if it just kills you to spend the extra $15 for the whole package mentioned above is the Mobile Passport App. This app on Apple and Android is basically the benefits of Global Re-entry for free. The downside you ask? Well, you don't get TSA Precheck with it, you have to sign up for that separately, and it isn't at every airport yet (however, to be honest, it's at most airports you might be re-entering the US from, so check out the Mobile Passport website and see if it works for you.) If so, great! You've just saved the extra $15 to sign up for Global Re-entry and can use your savings to sign up for Lambo's Travel Deals to save even more travel $!
One more thought/tip on this topic of getting through security and back home more quickly and comfortably. There is something called NEXUS. To put it simply NEXUS is Global Re-entry for the U.S. and Canada. The benefits of this? Well, again you get expedited passage through security and customs for one more country, in this case Canada. What's nice about this is many deals I see from the U.S are on Star Alliance member Air Canada, so when you layover in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or another Canadian city, you are quickly expedited through their security and customs lines as well. The other nice thing about this? I thought you'd never ask! For the bonus of adding one more country - Canada - to the VIP treatment security and customs lines, you pay exactly half the price. Yeah, you read that right, $50 bucks! And just like the Global Re-entry mentioned earlier, it's good for five years too! Unfortunately, there is a downside, or should I say an inconvenience. To sign up for anything we've talked about to this point you have to go in for an interview at an enrollment center, with the exception of the Mobile Passport App. For the NEXUS interview this must take place at a NEXUS enrollment center, which you'll only find along the US/Canada border at major crossing points, or in major Canadian cities/airports.
Finally, if you're flush with cash, travel for a business that's flush with cash, and can't stand waiting more than 5 minutes in a security line to get to your flight (or if you're always late getting to the airport) CLEARME is your answer! With CLEARME you skip the wait for the TSA agent to look at your passport/license and then staring at you and your boarding pass to be sure everything is copacetic. CLEARME uses a kiosk to verify your identity by scanning your finger print and/or retina, which then sends you directly to security. If you combine this with TSA Precheck you'll set speed records getting to your gate in the post 9/11 world. CLEARME isn't free. It'll cost you $149 to $179 / yr and an additional $50 / family member; this doesn't include TSA Precheck, which would cost $85 more, or $100 more if you wanted Global Re-entry.
Check out this NY Times article for a good review of our discussion here and some more information.
There is a lot of information for you to sift through here, but information that I promise will bring you much less stress and much happier travels in the future!