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Why TSA Pre Check Is A Game Changer

TSA Pre-Check Makes Flying Fun Again Security at the airport can be a stressful nightmare and thanks to the TSA Pre Check I’m actually enjoying flying again. I was fed up with waiting in long lines, removing my shoes and all the other annoyances that came along with air travel. Thankfully the Transportation Safety Administration […]

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TSA Pre-Check Makes Flying Fun Again

Security at the airport can be a stressful nightmare and thanks to the TSA Pre Check I’m actually enjoying flying again. I was fed up with waiting in long lines, removing my shoes and all the other annoyances that came along with air travel. Thankfully the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) saw this common problem and worked together with the airports and airlines to fix it.

 

The Pre Check is a one-time security screening, where the TSA vets you as a safe passenger who shows no threat to the safety of the airport or it’s passengers. I’m a believer, I have seen the grass on the other side and boy oh boy is it greener. I no longer arrive two whole hours before my flight, and my stress levels have fallen dramatically. Air travel is quickly becoming fun again, and thanks to the TSA, you can enjoy it too.  I’m a TSA Pre Check member and it has literally changed the way I travel.  All I can do is spread the good word about the pre check and it’s benefits, since I honestly see no drawbacks.

 

TSA Pre Check Basics

TSA Benefits

 

If you are a business traveler or a once a year get a way type, TSA Pre Check will completely change the way you fly. Gone are the long lines, the frustration and the hurry up to wait mentality. With a simple online application, a small fee ($85 and good for 5 years) and a small interview process (15 minutes), your airport travel could be simplified to the MAX.

 

TSA Pre Check is valid in the US only, so if you want the full worldwide service, Global Entry is what you want, but it requires a valid passport and is $15 more. I highly recommend going with the Global Entry since TSA Pre Check is included for free and is internationally recognized. With Global Entry you also get preferential treatment in customs and you will never have to fill out a declaration sheet again.

 

I’ll focus on the TSA Pre Check in this article and guide you through all the steps to the airport bliss that awaits you.

 

Hard Sell

 

Still not sure you want to pay $85 to be put on a safe to fly list, ok, here are your benefits. Every passenger who books flights using their TSA “Known Traveler Number,” can skip the long security line and won’t have to remove their shoes, take out their laptop or liquids. Basically TSA Pre Check is a fast track through security that allows you less time in general in the airport. To me, that’s a win-win situation; the airport has one less traveler to worry about and one less person clogging up the entire system.

 

Imagine traveling without the added stress of dealing with long lines at security and the frustration of taking off your shoes, jacket and belts. What a relief it’s going to be to not have to dig out your laptop or plastic bag full of toiletries every time you fly. Think about traveling during the holidays and the nightmarish situations that await you, with TSA Pre Check your annoyance levels will just diminish and traveling will become fun again.

 

These benefits will be good for 5 years and over 150 airports in the US participate in TSA Pre Check. The overall process is so simple that you really have no excuse not to sign up.

 

 

Super simple process that will forever change the way you fly.

 

Important Details 

 

First just follow the link to the TSA Pre Check application (TSA Pre Check signup), which should only take about 5-10 minutes. Next schedule an appointment for the interview and background check, which should take 15 minutes. There are over 380 TSA Pre Check enrollment centers located all over the US. Every participating airport has a center as well as most major cities. Simply schedule your appointment and after a quick sit down with the proper authorities, you are given a “Known Traveler number” that is your fast pass through security.

 

Last year the TSA estimated that people traveling with a Pre Check waited 5 minutes to get through security. That alone should sell you on the process and with this easy to follow guide, you have no excuses.

 

Check with your credit card company as many offer TSA Pre Check as part of their perks rewards. Not all airlines or airports participate with the TSA Pre-Check, but you can check here for a comprehensive list.

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Travel

How to Pick your Travel backpack

Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be…

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Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be doing, where you will be going and more importantly, how are you traveling. These all will determine what bag to chose, Backpack or Suitcase. Just remember, every journey is different, so a bag that worked for a work trip to Minneapolis may not work as well on a trip to the Nile River Delta.

 

Suitcase versus Backpack

First, you must decide to bring a suitcase or backpack? Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so chose wisely. Suitcases are better if you are traveling to one location and not moving for a longer period of time. Backpacks however are better in almost every other situation.   Suitcases are awkward to carry around, they seem to get damaged easier than backpacks and are just not as efficient. I can pack so much more in my backpack than I can in a suitcase of comparable size.  

If you have physical restrictions like back problems, then surely you should choose a roller suitcase, but for all others, go backpack.

 

What to look for

So, we decided on a backpack, I guess you are going on an adventure. If you chose a suitcase then you should read another blog by some nerd who only uses suitcases.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here is my backpack picking protocol.

 

Water Rating

Check out the fabric to see what it’s water rating is, which is a very important and you’ll thank me later. Waterproof is the best but water-resistant is acceptable depending on your trip. If you are going white water rafting, maybe choose water proof, all other trips water resistant should be fine.

 

Lockable

Does your bag have a built in lock? That is important if you are flying or staying in a hostel or other group living situation. Think about it, the bag has all your belongings for your trip so you want to make sure your stuff is safe. Nobody wants some stranger rummaging through their stuff while they sleep.

 

How Many Pockets

This is a crucial question to ask, because you want to know how much packable space the bag offers. These numbers are usually offered in cubic feet.   It also matters how you pack, so make sure you read my blog on packing tips to get the proper techniques. The amount of pockets and the space they provide is very valuable information to help determine which bag to use.

 

Frame?

Does the backpack have a frame and is the frame external or internal. Frames help to distribute the weight of a bag on the person’s back, to make carrying more efficient. Check out all three types of bags: frameless, external and internal frames, to see what suits your needs and preferences better.

 

Padding

How’s the padding, is it soft enough or is it hard or just plain cheap feeling? Does the back have ample padding as well for the shoulder pads? I prefer a good amount of padding on the shoulders, as this is the area that carries the most weight.

 

Size

How big is the bag and how easy will it be to navigate your trip with this bag fully packed on your back? Trial and error is probably the best way to determine these aspects.

 

Price

Finally, how much are you willing to spend on such a bag and what’s too much? This all boils down to personal preference and your bankroll. I would tend to stay away from the cheaper bags because they will be made poorly and you don’t want your bag to break mid trip.

 

Good luck finding the perfect bag for your adventure and remember proper preparation makes for a better trip.

 

Read the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of physictourism, ubelong, TravelHack, travelfashiongirl

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Travel

Should I Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Back in 2008, I joined my first frequent flier program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched…

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Joining a frequent flyer program is important and very valuable if you fly often.  Saving you money, making booking easier and enjoying in all the perks related to frequent flyer programs, you will be a happier traveler for sure.

Back in 2010, I joined my first frequent flyer program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched networks and carriers all the time. The lowest price always won.

Another reason I had never signed up before? All my favorite carriers are spread out over different alliances. Japan Airlines (JAL) is on the Oneworld network, while Singapore is on Star Alliance. Emirates Airline, the carrier that makes me salivate the most, isn’t on any of these networks.

Yet back in 2010 I realized that as I was going to fly around the world more, blogging as I went, it was probably a good idea to join an airline alliance – racking up miles, earning upgrades, and getting lounge access was probably a good idea for someone who was going to be in an airport every few weeks.

Over the years, I’ve been a member of all the alliances and my opinion about these programs has changed since I first wrote about them in 2008. Last year, I wrote about why people should not be members of frequent flier programs. Sure, you should always sign up for the program to get the points, but if you aren’t flying enough to hit elite flier status, then you should base your decisions on price. Go with the lowest price and when you do get miles, exchange them for a free flight.

But if you do think you are going to fly enough to make it worth it, you should totally join a frequent flyer program. The lowest tiers in the program, while not great, usually start at 20,000 flown miles.

You can read a lot of opinions on which program to join. Some people will say to join them all, others will tell you to join the ones with your favorite carriers, and others believe you should join the one with the major airline in your home town. I’m of the last opinion. The right alliance to join is the one on which you will most likely earn elite status.

This year I switched from Oneworld to Star Alliance. I did so because I was supposed to move to Europe and the major airline out of Stockholm is SAS, a Star Alliance member. But now that I’ve moved back to the States? I’ve switched back to American, a Oneworld carrier, because they have a hub at JFK and I like them better than United, who is part of Star Alliance.

I strongly recommend that if you are going to be traveling a lot, you stick to one alliance and earn elite flier status. Your status will last 14 months, so even if you don’t fly a lot the following year, you can still reap the benefits for a little while longer.

Because there is nothing like seeing the line for security check-in and realizing you can whiz right on past it or sit in a comfortable lounge with free drinks to make the flying experience infinitely times better.

 

 

 

Check out the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of Baltia, dailyMail

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Don’t Ever go on a Road Trip Without Packing These 10 Items

Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head…

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Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head out into the great beyond, navigating your way through the beautiful country. I know once the first signs of spring begin to appear, its road trip time!

 

Let’s look at what essentials you should bring to make your road trip epic and unforgettable.

 

Sunglasses

You can’t leave home without your shades dudes. I live in California so I wouldn’t even think about starting a road trip with out my favorite pair of sunglasses and I might even bring a backup, because you never know. Driving down the highway with the sun glaring back at you can be dangerous, so the shades aren’t just for looking cool, although they certainly help.   Make sure your sunglasses protect against UV rays and you should be safe.

 

Water Bottle

Water is the basis of all life and we need it to survive and thrive, so make sure you pack a quality water bottle. I enjoy one that keeps my water cold for longer, like a Contigo. We should be drinking 4-16 ounce glasses of water a day at minimum to keep you hydrated, so a good water bottle is key. Plastic water bottles are environmental nightmares, so steer clear of these bad boys and get yourself a refillable bottle.

 

GPS Navigation

Most smartphones come with map apps already installed but I prefer an aftermarket one. Try WAZE, it’s a navigation app that adds in the functionality of social media to increase its effectiveness. This app tells you where traffic is and redirects you to minimize your travel time. I honestly don’t drive on the highway without first checking WAZE to see what the traffic is like.  Getting lost can be a fun adventure, but getting found is much better.

 

Tunes

What’s a road trip without some great tunes to guide your way? I always make a road trip specific mix so that my trip soundtrack reflects the drive.   If your car has an auxiliary port, make sure you bring that aux cable so you can hook up your mp3 player, or just burn some sweet mix CDs.

 

First Aid

You never know when you may need a first aid kit and if you are on a road trip, who knows where the closest help could be? You may just need a bandage or some aspirin, but a properly stocked first aid kit will always come in handy.

 

Emergency Kit

Going along with the first aid kit, a roadside emergency kit is very helpful to have in the trunk. A good roadside emergency kit should contain jumper cables, road flares or reflective triangles, a shovel, rope and a battery jumper. I have a great battery jumper in mine and it’s saved the day multiple times. Believe me, accidents happen and it always is good to be prepared. I knew being a Boy Scout would come in handy.

 

Camera

You need a good camera for your road trip or did it even happen? I pack my GoPro when I travel because you never know when adventure will happen and you need to document it. On a good road trip, you will see some sites that you’ve never seen before and you better record it. A simple point and shoot digital camera works great for this purpose, just toss it in the glove compartment and make sure your battery is charged.

 

Snacks

How can you go on a road trip without the proper snacks? I advise a good mix of sweet, salty and sour. Candy and chips are the standard with some beef jerky tossed in for sustenance. I always like to drive with emergency food, just in case you get stranded somewhere.

 

Sunscreen

Believe me, you will notice a driver side arm tan after a few days on the road. I always pack sunscreen or sunblock for road trips.   Make it an SPF of 30 or higher for the proper protection and you won’t have to keep reapplying throughout the day.

 

Cell Phone Mount

A good cell phone mount is key, especially since distracted driving is fast becoming a cause of many fatal car accidents. I use a vent clip phone holder, while many will chose the suction cup version that sticks to your windshield.   Either way, this will keep your hands free to drive and your attention on the road.

 

Hopefully these items make your road trip one to remember. Drive safe and follow all posted signs, its an epic adventure out there, just waiting for you to take it.

 

Photos Courtesy of Trend Hunter, ignant, sunglasswarehouse, travelsupermarket 

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