Global Entry…is it worth it?

Applying for Global Entry is an easy process, and once you do you can bypass a lot of hassle by using expedited lanes at the U.S. airports, and when crossing international borders.  You can also combine it with TSA pre-check, making your travel experiences easier.

A lot of clients ask me, “Is it worth it to get Global Entry or TSA pre-check?” And my answer is always this: If your time is worth anything to you, yes!

It’s a relatively easy process, makes going through security at airports a breeze.  Children 12 and under can accompany you through the expedited lanes, making family travel easier.  And (BONUS) most major credit companies* will give you credit reimbursement for Global Entry making it a win/win!

It’s easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Regardless of your age, you must have your own TTP account.
  2. Log in to your TTP account and complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application.
  3. After accepting your completed application and fee, CBP will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, then your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Each applicant must schedule a separate interview.
  4. You will need to bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine readable permanent resident card.
FAQ’s
How long does it take to process global entry?
Processing times vary by applicant, but anticipate up to 11 weeks to process your application.
How long after my application is approved do I have to schedule my interview with a Global Entry Enrollment Center?
You have 365 days from the date of online approval notice to schedule your interview. If you do not complete your interview within 365 days your application will be voided and no refunds will be given. Should you wish to resume application, you will have to start the application process over.
What do I need to bring with me to my interview?
A valid passport, and one other form of identification (Drivers License or ID card)
How long is Global Entry Valid?
Global Entry is Valid for 5 years. You pass can be revoked for criminal offense charges, or if you are charge with a customs and immigration violation.
How do I schedule my interview with a Global Entry Enrollment Center/find a center near me?
Log in to your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account and from the dashboard select “schedule an interview” button. From there you can select a date and time from a list of available slots.  You will also be shown alternative centers that may have availability sooner. Please be advised that appointments are REQUIRED for all locations.
As always, if you have any questions regarding the process, please do not hesitate to reach out.
*Obligatory disclaimer that you must check with your individual credit card company to see if they offer reimbursement for Global Entry and/or TSA Precheck, and what steps must be taken in order to file for reimbursement.

Can a travel advisor save you money?

Usually when I tell people I’m a travel agent, the first question I get asked is “Can you save me money?”

The answer……probably not. At least not the way you are thinking.

It’s not the answer people are looking to hear. Sometimes people walk away right away. Sometimes people look at me incredulously and wonder how/why I’m in business at all. Well, let me take a minute to address those concerns.

I don’t save you money, but I do save you in a multitude of other ways.

No – I probably won’t get you a $50 flight to France. Nor can I get you an all inclusive to Mexico for $300 for the week (and by the way – no one can – at least not at a resort you want to stay at). But this is what I do save you.

  1. I save you time – you know that thing you can’t make back. I work in a network of suppliers and other advisors to save you from spending hours upon hours online researching where to go, what to do, etc. Because I already know how to ask those questions and, more importantly, who to ask.
  2. I save you from yourself – The biggest mistake I made as a traveler was when I was visiting Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. We were at the tail end of our vacation and made the decision to save the money and not go inside the monastery. What a mistake we made! All for the sake of saving $100 on what was already a $10,000 vacation. Now it would cost us another $10,000 to go back to Normandy. Between that and the time, we will probably never go again. It is a missed opportunity all for the sake of saving a few dollars. A travel advisor takes their knowledge, their mistakes, and their wisdom and extends it to their client, making sure such mistakes are not repeated and that you don’t miss out on experiences worth spending the money.
  3. I give you realistic expectations for your budget – most people have no idea what travel really costs, and it keeps them from even trying. Or they immediately assume that they can only afford to travel on the cheap. I completely disagree. Luxury travel is not just the Four Seasons with butler service. Luxury travel is what you want when you want it. And a travel advisor can accommodate. And give you reasonable expectations of how that can be accomplished. I always tell people that if they have an an anniversary, a reunion, or a special occasion coming up in the next few years, talk to an advisor now. They can tell you what it would cost to get you what you want, so you can adequately plan.
  4. I make your money go further – I spend a good amount of time working and developing relationships with suppliers in my industry. This allows me to do things like upgrade your room, provide you extra spa credits, or give you free breakfast during your stay. Ask an OTA (online travel agency) to ask for that on your behalf, and see what happens.

Travel – at least travel worth spending your money on – costs money

It’s like the difference between McDonald’s and Mortons Steakhouse. Both can feed you. Both can give you what you want – to eat out and not cook – but both are satisfying very different needs.

There are some people in this world who are thrilled to eat out at McDonalds and happy that they saved money not eating anywhere else. Those people probably do not need to hire a travel advisor.

On the other spectrum there are others who understand the value of their dollar and that not all meats are created equal. Who understand the difference between a hamburger patty and a filet mignon. They love the atmosphere of a white table cloth and are willing to spend more for quality.

And then there is a completely different kind of traveler – the one who would never eat at a chain anything and wants the local farm-to-table experience provided by Nona in the middle of Tuscany and the only way you can order is through an entertaining game of charades.

The same goes for travel. You can DIY and stay in a Motel 6. And maybe you are happy to do that – you do you, boo. But if you are one who is looking for a unique and custom experience, who wants to immerse themselves in the culture, and wants to be comfortably accommodated along the way, hire a travel advisor to help maximize your experience.

What is the difference between a $100 room and a $200 room besides the cost? The answer is – it could be a lot of things like location, service, cleanliness, accessibility, dining, amenities; or, it could be absolutely nothing. But you can’t know that just by reading a hotel description. Your travel advisor knows and can make sure you are being pointed in the right direction for the right reason.

The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. And traveling across the world costs money. But it is absolutely worth every penny, especially if you…

Bring with you knowledge so you are adequately wowed

This is where a good travel advisor comes in.

They don’t just purchase your plane tickets, book your hotel, and send you on your way. They arm you with a plan – a detailed itinerary to make sure that you are seeing what you need to see. They get to know you – your travel style, your interests, your hobbies, your travel dreams – and they interweave those things into your travel experience. They give you the practical information to navigate a place you have never been before. And they make sure that you are armed with all the information possible to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Because 9/10 times if you didn’t enjoy something, it simply means you don’t know enough about it. Understand it and it can be fun. It is the best and only budget tip I can offer – if you understand what you are looking at, you will get twice the experience.

At the end of the day, travel costs money. You have to pay for the experience. A good travel advisor will provide you a service and experience that you can not find anywhere else; and, more importantly, it will be an experience worth paying for.