Friday, July 31, 2015

Bucket Lists

I passed a milestone this week.  Over 100K frequent flyer miles in my skinny little MileagePlus account.  I stop, savor the numbers… One-one-seven-eight-five-eight.  That’s a LOT Of numbers!  It means the world is my oyster.  I could travel to Tibet, Tasmania, or Taiwan.  I could sip sake, savor snails, or slurp sangria. 

I could go a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e. on 117,858 frequent flyer miles.

But, damned if I don’t find myself hitting default.  Heading, rather, for the land of fried fish, pickled eggs, and Marmite. 

It does cross my mind that it’s crazy… I have so many places on my bucket list.  Hobart, Tasmania! Alaska! Hawaii (my sister has even been to Hawaii!).  What is wrong with me? 

Perhaps, it’s the history of England?  The magic? The brilliant swath of color across a verdant valley on a gorgeous spring day?  Perhaps it’s the baby lambs, the West End shows, the mystery, the never-ending surprises that greet me on each trip.  Just when you think you have England sussed, you turn a corner and she proves you know nothing at all.

I sigh and turn to Trip Advisor.  What new routes should I pick?  Perhaps a more in-depth look at Cornwall and Devon.  Oh, and while I’m at it… let’s add more of the Cotswolds with a pinch of Yorkshire and cup of Cumbria.  Mix it all together and see what the result will be.

In 2014, I created my most brilliant masterpiece.  An all-out, balls-to-the-wall super overview of England, Scotland, and Wales.  We visited places I’ve never been before and places I’ve loved.  England, once again, wraped me in her arms, welcomed me, charmed me, and left me wondering… what next?  And what next?  There is always a next.  If I go to Hobart or Christchurch or Tripoli… I might miss something.  I will have blinked and I will have missed the magic – perhaps forever.

So, I begin to wonder if my bucket list will ever be realized because England (in its entirety) IS my bucket list.  In the end, it’s not so much where you go, but what you gain from having gone.  And, with 117,858 frequent flyer miles… I daresay I will gain a lot in 2016!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Skip Those Customs and TSA Lines!

I was looking through my Facebook feed the other day and noticed a friend posting about skipping through TSA checks by applying to Global Entry.  As an airport volunteer, I had guided many folks to Global Entry.  It’s used as a point of arrival for planes coming from overseas.  But, other folks had said something to the effect of, “I have my Global Entry interview – can you tell me how to get there?”

“Of course,” I’d say.  It’s down this corridor to the end of the hall.  Last door on your right.

But, I had no idea what sort of interview.  Perhaps a job interview?  Could be.  But, that’s not what it was.  It was all part of an application process whereby you can skip the long lines entering a country by being on a “trusted traveler” list.   

Benefits include:

  • No processing lines
  •  No paperwork
  • Access to expedited entry benefits in other countries
  • Available at major U.S. airports
  • Reduced wait times
  • TSA Precheck Eligibility

To apply for a trusted traveler/global entry card:

1.       Go to the Global Online Enrollment System(GOES). 
2.       Register as a new user.
3.       Log into the site.
4.       Fill out the application.  The following will be required:
Personal Information
Other Names Used
Date and Place of Birth
Contact Information
Citizenship Information
Admissibility Documents
Primary Residence
Driver's License
Current Address
Address History
Current Employment Status
Employment History
Travel History
Additional Information
Conveyance Information
Final Review
5.       After filling out the application, you will be asked to submit along with a $100 filing fee.
6.       The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will review your application to determine if you are conditionally approved for global entry. 
7.       Upon conditional approval, you will be contacted by the CBP to set up a Global Entry interview where any inconsistencies in your application will be discussed.
8.       When all application questions have been discussed and your global entry approved, you are sent a trusted traveler card.
9.     You must activate this card at the CBP GOES page.  

A TSA pre-check is automatically assigned to all Global Entry card holders.

Countries that are part of the global entry program include:

  • U.S. citizens, U.S nationals and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents
  •  Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Republic of Korea
  • Germany

Global entry kiosks are located in designated airports where your card and fingerprints will be scanned.  You’ll also fill out a customs declaration form before being directed to baggage claim.
For more information, see the trusted traveler guide HERE.

Happy trails!