The ABC’s of Global Entry

by Beth Whitman (June 16th, 2015)

Global EntryA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about TSA Pre✓ when I realized that not everyone knows what this expedited screening process is. But what goes hand in hand with TSA Pre✓ is Global Entry, another expedited program. This one allows you to get through customs lines in the U.S. upon arrival on an international flight.

While TSA Pre✓ ushers you through security at U.S. airports when you’re departing, Global Entry ushers you through customs on your return to the U.S. It is, without question, a way to make your international travel experience smoother and more pleasant. Special bonus—you also get to use the TSA Pre✓ lines as a Global Entry member. So if you travel both domestically and internationally, it pays to go for Global Entry and get the perks of both programs.

Signing up with Global Entry eliminates more than lines, though—you are also spared paperwork (at least in paper form). Skip the cards or forms and proceed straight to an automated kiosk.

At the kiosk, you scan your passport or U.S. permanent resident card, scan your fingerprints to make sure they match with what you provided during the application process, and complete your customs form right on the machine. You then get a receipt and can go on your merry way. The entire process usually takes just minutes.

Also like Pre✓, to be granted the privilege of fewer lines, you’ll need to undergo a pre-approval process—namely, a pretty in-depth background check and an interview.

It would make sense that I would have Global Entry, right? But as I noted in my TSA Pre✓ post, I won’t apply for It because it requires being fingerprinted. I’ve never been fingerprinted and I’d kinda like to keep a perfect record. :-)

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with no criminal charges, customs or immigration violations, or any number of other offenses that might disqualify you as a “low-risk” traveler. Citizens of some other countries can also qualify too, including Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea and Mexico. Canadians can look to the NEXUS program to take part in Global Entry.

Each participant must do their own application. Only Global Entry participants can use the kiosks, and this applies to kids—if you want to bring them through with you, make sure you sign them up too.

Here are the steps you’ll need to go through to apply:

•    Apply online through the Global Online Enrollment System (or GOES). You’ll need to pay a one-time application fee of $100. Whether you’re accepted into the program or not, you won’t see this $100 again so make sure you read about who’s eligible.

•    Set up an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers—there are many of these all around the U.S., often not far from major, participating airports or major border crossings.

•    Bring your passport and a secondary ID (such as a driver’s license). If you’re a permanent resident, bring your permanent resident card. Make sure none of your IDs are expired!

•    During your interview, a customs officer will take your photo and your fingerprints, and ask you a few questions.

•    This interview will determine whether you’re in or not.

•    You will have to renew your Global Entry after five years and pay for another application fee, but you may or may not need to do another interview. That info will be in your GOES account.

Of course, as with Pre✓, Global Entry only works at participating airports. Fortunately, most major entry points are on the list.

When all is said and done, there’s no guarantee that you still won’t have to chat with a customs officer. If you declared something, your fingerprints didn’t match what was in the system, you got flagged for a random inspection or any other flags are raised, you’ll be directed to an officer. The perk of this potential part of the process—Global Entry participants don’t have to wait in line. If the automated kiosks are out of order, you also get head-of-the-line privileges. You’ll know if you’re required to chat with an officer if the receipt that prints out has an X or and O on it.

What do you think? Sound like something you’d like to participate in?

Be Bold,

Beth

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Pearl Izumi N1 Shoes ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (June 10th, 2015)

Pearl Azumi n1 running shoesNow that I’ve really gotten into the habit of running and am training for the Honolulu Marathon, I’m learning a lot about my body, the sport and the gear that works best for me.

My recent “aha” moment was realizing that, depending on conditions and the length of my run, my gear needs might change. An obvious example is wearing a long sleeve shirt in the winter, a tank top in the summer.

What I wasn’t expecting was that my feet might have different needs based on the length of my runs.

For the past few years, I’ve been running in Vibram five-finger shoes. I really like these. Not only are they easy to pack (the main reason for me joining the “barefoot” running craze to begin with) but I like running close to the ground and don’t mind feeling the pavement or odd pebble underneath my foot.

Having said that, once I started running long distances (10+ miles), I noticed my feet and calves were getting fatigued after those long runs. So, I switched over to Pearl Izumi N1 shoes. While these aren’t minimalist or barefoot shoes, they are relatively close to the ground with just a difference of 1mm – 4.5mm from heel to mid-stance.

This seems to have provided just enough cushioning for me that I no longer have soreness after my long runs.

The uppers are made of a mesh which allows my feet to breath if I’m running in warm weather. Even though these might initially feel cool during a run in moderate to cool temperatures, my feet will quickly warm up and I appreciate the breathability these provide.

While these don’t pack down nearly as much as my Vibrams, they are lightweight (7.4 ounces) so at least they aren’t weighing down my luggage. And I just stuff items inside the shoes to save space.

There really are so many styles of running shoes out there and no one style that’s perfect for everyone. Therefore, I encourage you to at least check these out and see if they are a good fit for you.

By the way, they’re excellent as walking shoes, too. I actually spent a lot of time just taking long walks in these before I started running in them.

The Pearl Izumi N1s come in two color combinations: Aruba Blue/Deep Peacock (pictured) and Living Coral/Rose Violet.

These go for $115 on the Pearl Izumi site.

Be Bold,

Beth

Want to stay up-to-date on all things Wanderlust? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Disclosure: Pearl Izumi provided these shoes to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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The ABC’s of TSA Pre✓

by Beth Whitman (June 2nd, 2015)

TSA Precheck logoMany of you probably already know what the TSA Pre✓ program is, but I recently realized there are a lot of people who still don’t yet know about this expedited screening process at the airport.

I’m going to say up front that I do not participate in it. My only objection to it is that you have to be fingerprinted. I’ve never been fingerprinted and I’d kinda like to keep a perfect record. Having said that, it could very well be a great thing for you.

It should be noted that this is only available in the U.S. but, even then, it’s not at all airports. I’ve also noticed that even at airports where they do offer it, sometimes that particular line is closed. My point being that you could be a participant but find yourself still having to schlep through the regular scanner anyway.

If you have TSA Pre✓ and are able to go through this line at the airport it means you’re going to get expedited screening. The line will go much more quickly because you don’t have to take off your shoes and jacket, nor do you have to remove your laptop or liquids from your carry-on bag. You then just walk through a metal detector rather than the full body scanners that most everyone else is walking through.

I admit that it really is quite convenient and I do get kinda giddy when I get randomly chosen for this line as it makes the process of going through security SO much easier.

People I know who have it, love it. And according to the TSA website, there are about a million people registered for the program. My mind leaps to: Yeah, another million people in the government’s database that they can keep track of. :-)

If you’re interested, here’s the process for getting approved for TSA Pre✓:

1. Complete an online application.
2. Schedule an appointment at a TSA Pre✓ application center. (There are more than 280 centers nationwide.)
3. Visit the TSA Pre✓ application center, pay the $85 fee, provide valid government identification and have your fingerprints taken.
4. Once completed, a Known Traveler Number will be sent to via U.S. mail or can be obtained online.

Once you have your Known Traveler Number, you add this number to your airline reservation. Your boarding pass will then show your designation as being enrolled in the TSA Pre✓ TSA Airport Screeningprogram and you can go directly to this line at the airport.

You might be lucky enough to get randomly chosen for the TSA Pre✓ line.

TSA Risk Assessments uses Secure Flight Data supplied to TSA which allows passengers to access the TSA Pre✓ screening lane on a random basis. This has happened to me a couple of times when I’ve seen the designation on my boarding pass. This means I can go directly to the precheck lane.

I’ve also been randomly chosen once at the airport to go through this lane.

So, yeah, if you’re a frequent flyer, you might think about forking over the $85 and your fingerprints to use this service. I get that it’s totally convenient but it just isn’t for me right now. Call me a conspiracy theorist but…

Be Bold,

Beth

Want another perspective on TSA Pre✓? Check out this post from Pat Awmack on the WanderTours’ blog.

Want to stay up-to-date on all things Wanderlust? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Photo credit:
Airport security – Dan Paluska via Flickr

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