Archive for the Category »Passport «

Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, Your Choice

You may have read my previous blog, where I reported that TSA recently eliminated free TSA Pre-Check that frequent fliers were receiving. We REALLY loved TSA pre-check, so we knew it was time to officially apply for that. The following airlines offer TSA Pre-Check, and here’s how you apply at a location near you:

  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines/US Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • OneJet
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Sun Country
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • West Jet

Since we’re booked with friends on the Globus Greek Island Hopper Tour in 2016 (you should come with us), it just made sense to apply for 20151012_132453Global Entry, which offers expedited customs clearance upon reentering the country, as well as TSA Pre-Check. Friends of ours who traveled with us to Costa Rica already had their Global Entry cards then. We were off the plane in line for customs well ahead of them, but they cleared customs, were seated at an airport bar saving seats for us, with their first drinks in hand by the time we caught up with them.

About a month ago, we applied for Global Entry online at this website. We had to list past addresses, employment, and more, and then pay the $100 fee, which is non-refundable. After about one week, we were notified that our application had been conditionally approved and to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. We knew Little Rock did not have one, so we would have to travel to a center, and the closest ones to us are in Memphis and Dallas. Fortunately, we were traveling to Washington, DC, for the American Express Learning Forum and Travel Conference and a visit with our daughter who lives there now, which included lots of sightseeing. So, we scheduled an appointment in the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, just a few blocks from the White House.

We walked in early for our appointment, but they immediately called us in. After answering a few basic questions and an explanation of how Global Entry works, we walked out with our Known Traveler number, and my Global Entry card arrived at our home just a couple days later. I entered the Known Traveler number in our Southwest Airline flight home from Washington, DC, and sure enough, we had TSA Pre-Check on that return flight.

So, if you just fly domestically, TSA Pre-Check may be enough for you. If you travel or hope to travel internationally, might as well apply for Global Entry now.


Does Your Passport Expire in 2016?

The US PasspWIN_20150917_10_51_08_Proort office is reminding us that they issued lots of passports in 2006, because that was the year the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into affect. That means a large number of US citizens will need to renew their passports in 2016. If that’s you, you can expect delays in your renewal. I highly recommend starting your renewal early in the year, allowing plenty of time to get it back before your next trip.

The US is also phasing out adding pages to existing passports. That just puts the US in line with what the rest of the world is already doing. Be sure you ask for the 52-page book, which is the largest they offer, because that gives you more space for stamps over the 28-page book. Once your passport pages are full, you’ll now have to renew your passport. Happy travels, and remember to give me a call when you’re ready to travel.

You’re invited … Greek Island Hopper Tour with fun folks!


Santorini Resort Pool

So many destinations on our bucket list, and too little time and money to complete them all right now. In 2016, we’ll knock Greece off our list as we spend luxurious days in Athens, Mykonos, and Greece. One of my friends emailed late last year, saying he wanted to spend his 40th birthday in 2016 in Greece, so he wanted to know which cruise line did the best job in Greece.

If he wanted to visited Greece, Turkey, and perhaps Croatia, a cruise line is absolutely my recommendation, but if he wants to just spend time in Greece, I definitely recommend a land trip. On cruises, you only get to spend a few hours of one day in each port in most cases, so you just don’t get to immerse yourself in the culture and really enjoy these gorgeous islands. I recommended Globus Greek Island Hopper tour, and we selected the tour that would include the dates of his birthday, June 22 – July 1, 2016.

Our international flight will leave the US on June 21, and we’ll fly into Athens to meet up with all our friends, enjoy dinner and drinks, and spend two nights there. Our sightseeing there will include a visit to the Parthenon atop the Acropolis, the Erechtheum with its Porch of Maidens, the beautifully preserved Theseum, Roman temple of Zeus, theater of Dionysus, and the Agora where Socrates taught. On our second morning there, June 24th, we’ll head to the port of Piraeus, to sail on a ferry on the deep-blue waters of the Aegean Sea to the mountainous island of Mykonos, where we’ll enjoy a dinner with our friends tonight at a local restaurant, then spend three nights on this gorgeous island, including a walking tour. On June 2th, we’ll board the ferry to sail to Santorini, the stunning “Black Pearl of the Aegean,” where we’ll enjoy dinner with friends at a local restaurant, then settle in for three nights and a walking tour. I can’t wait to not only

The Parthenon in Athens

explore these fabulous islands, but relax and enjoy the beauty as well. On June 30th, we’ll head to the airport for a short flight back to Athens, where we’ll wrap up our Greek adventure with one more night in Athens, before heading home to the US on July 1st.

Here’s a link to the details online based on the 2015 itinerary. Our tour is June 22 – July 1, 2016, and it ends up being an 11-night vacation, since your outbound International flight is overnight. We love to travel with friends, so you’re invite to join our fun-loving group, which all ages, races, and gay and straight folks, all who love an adventure.

Globus is honoring their 2015 price for this tour of $1,892 per person. The cost of the intra country flight from Santorini to Athens must be added on once those flights are confirmed, and this year that flight was $331 per person, so we’re expecting much the same for 2016. Once Globus has their international flights for this tour contracted, we can check prices for our international flights. Globus airfare prices are usually lower than what I can find independently, and you can reserve your flight with a low deposit, instead of paying for it in full when you book it.


These prices are based on double occupancy, so let me know if you’d like to see prices for single or triple occupancy. And, send me your preferred airport if you’d like me to send you a guesstimate for your international airfare.

The deposit for the tour is $250 per person, and you can book that right now. Once the intra-country air is added, that requires an additional $250 per person deposit due, probably in September. And, when you add Globus international flights, that will require an additional $350 per person deposit. Final payment is due 4/2/2016, so you pay the deposits as they are due, then you can make payments along until you make the final payment on that date … or you can just charge the final payment any time before that date. I’m happy to accommodate payments for the folks who like to pay for a “layaway vacation.”

The price is not locked in until the deposit is paid, and the price will likely increase over time. There’s only 40 seats on this trip, so this trip can and will sell out. Booking now not only locks in your price and your seat, but it also allows you more time to pay off your layaway vacation.

Deposits are fully refundable at this time. Once the tour is confirmed and guaranteed in September, the deposit becomes fully non-refundable. At that time, I highly recommend you add Globus Cancel for Any Reason Travel Protection of $249 per person. That way, no matter what happens in the future, you have protection.

If you this sounds like fun to you, come go with us! All I need to book your travel with us is your legal name exactly as it appears on your passport, your date of birth, address, phone, and email, plus a debit or credit card to pay the deposit. I plan all kinds of vacations, so I’ll help you with any vacation, but how about joining us in Greece in 2016! Here’s how to reach me or stay in touch with me.


Boarding Your First Cruise?

I’ve asked some wonderful friends and guests of ours, Mike and Lee, to share their tips for first time cruisers.  Over LeeMike2the next week, their series of posts will include information about arriving at port, check-in at the cruise terminal, boarding the ship, dealing with lost luggage, what to do when you board the ship, and more.  Enjoy! 

Everything We Wish We’d Known on Our First Cruise

When Mike and I started cruising, we read a lot of reviews, and while people talked a lot about what life was like once you were on the ship or what the ports were like, we wondered about the process of getting on the ship and what the first day was like.  With that in mind, I plan to write in this series of blog posts about the process of getting onboard and making sure you have everything in place to ensure that you have a great time onboard.  Our experience is from 16 cruises on five different cruise lines so far, so I’ll try to write generally enough that it will cover most any ship. more »

Do I Need A Passport?

U.S. Passport Rules! 

This is one of the most frequent questions I’m asked.  And, it’s funny, because if someone asks me that questions, they usually ask me it three or more times.  Before they book, they ask me, “Do I need  a passport for this cruise?”  After their cruise is booked, they ask the same question again.  Then they go to work or church or anywhere and share their excitement about the cruise they’ve just booked.  A friend then reminds them that they now need a passport for cruises, which sends them back to me one more time with that same question.  more »