Get the most out of your global experiences this year by signing up for these must-have travel programs.
A new year means new travels, and new chances to explore parts unknown. But there’s more to this travel game than simply finding a deal, grabbing your passport and taking flight. There are some super basic things every savvy traveler should have in place before plotting their next beach formation photoshoot. Before you go off on your next adventure, check out our list of essentials to have in place so you can jetset worry free.
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You’re probably thinking to yourself “Duh, of course I’ll make sure I have a passport before I travel,” but simply having a passport isn’t enough. You won’t believe how many people get denied at airports because their passport doesn’t meet the expiration requirements of their country their visiting or doesn’t have enough visa pages left. For example, some destinations require your passport to be valid for three to six months beyond your departure date and/or require you to have four blank passport pages in order to enter their country. Before you book or leave for any overseas travel be sure to double check the country’s entry requirements, so that you have time to renew your passport if necessary.
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It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, no traveler is traveling smart if they don’t have travel insurance. Now when we say travel insurance, we’re not just talking the kind that covers your bags or hotel, or reimburses you for flight delays. We’re talking the kind that in addition to all that, can help cover you in the event of an emergency or worse.
Whether it’s needing to visit a clinic for that twisted ankle you got after skydiving or needing help after a terror attack, having major travel and travel medical insurance is a must. Starting a GoFundMe after the fact is not an insurance plan, so take a few minutes to sign up for insurance on sites like Allianz, Travel Guard and World Nomads, to get individual trip or annual coverage for budget friendly prices. Many major credit card companies also offer travel insurance, so check with them to make sure they offer the level of coverage you need.
Say Goodbye to Long Lines
The last thing anyone wants to do at the airport is stand in a seemingly never-ending TSA or immigration security line – and you shouldn’t have to. These days there are several ways to skip the dreaded airport lines, or at least shorten the wait. First up is Global Entry, for a non-refundable $100 application fee (unless you’re a gold or platinum Amex card holder), the program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. via automatic kiosks, is good for five years and also includes TSA pre-check, which allows for shoes-on clearance through TSA on domestic flights.
Mobile Passport works similar to Global Entry, without the TSA pre-check benefit. But considering you can download and use it for free, it’s still worth having. CLEAR is gaining steam when it comes to people who do a lot of domestic travel. With CLEAR, you’ll are always front of the line no matter how long regular or TSA pre-check lines are, there are even Clear reps on site to walk you to the front to make getting through a breeze. The downside is it costs $179 a year to use and isn’t available at every airport. If you’re one of the many travelers who can’t get enough of the U.A.E., make sure to sign up for the Smart Gates program on your next visit to be able to skip long lines there in the future.
As travelers we’re always on the hunt for ways to save money on our adventures. One strategy that can help you travel for the low, or even free, is signing up for loyalty rewards programs and getting in on the points hustle. Lounge access, free stays, seat upgrades, and free airport transfers are just some of the perks you can get when you sign up for various travel loyalty programs. Even using your debit or credit cards can help you accrue points that can lead to free flights and upgrades. Sign up for the airlines and hotel chains you use the most to get started, and check out The Points Guy for detailed tips and tricks.