Monday, December 12, 2016

What Should You Do? Travel Smart...

Before your trip: Sign up for TSA's PreCheck (, a trusted traveler program which has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at more than 180 airports. You won’t have to remove your shoes or your laptop from its case.

Sign up for U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program (see, another shortcut for frequent international travelers, especially as the federal government immigration and customs lines get longer.

Check in online: If you aren’t checking bags, this will save time at the airport. If you do check bags, it isn’t nearly as much help.

Before you leave home for the airport: Check your flight status. Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you sign up on their websites, and sites like and will do the same by text, on the web and through smartphone apps. It never hurts to check.

Pack your personal ID, etc.: Make sure you know exactly where your ID, boarding pass, credit cards, etc. are in your wallet, purse, or carryon bag. If you put them in the same place every time, you’ll know right where to look for them. You won’t be holding up the line when the TSA agent asks for your documents.

Put things away: Anything you won’t need at the airport, make sure it doesn’t get in the way of your important papers.

Check parking: If you know ahead of time where to park, which lots are closest to your gate, and where the shuttle stops, it will save time and worry once you get to the parking lot.
Is your bag heavy? Weigh it at home or at the scales at the airport. You might need to remove something before you check it. If you stuff your carryon bag too full, it may not fit in the overhead bin.

Once through security: Check the flight status boards again for departure updates and gate information.

Going abroad? Do you know the difference between Customs and Immigration? Customs agents are mostly concerned with what you have with you, whether you have fruit or vegetables from another country, contraband items, anything subject to tariffs, large amounts of cash and the like. Immigration officers, meanwhile, are concerned with your citizen status, the intended duration of your stay and what you will be doing during your visit. In short, customs officers are interested in your stuff; immigration officers are interested in you.

Do you know what happens to your luggage during connections? Check to see if your luggage will be booked through to your final destination. Ask if you need to collect it if you’re going through customs and immigration. You’ll need to know this if you need to have enough time to get it and check back in.

Make sure you have a pen handy. You will need to fill out your customs forms and it’s much easier and quicker to do this on the plane before you land.

Make sure you write down your purchases, especially large dollar ones. You can lump t-shirts and gifts together. But, that $400 purse needs to be listed separately.  Declare any alcohol or tobacco products over your duty-free allowance.

Customs and immigration can be a confusing process if you’re not familiar with it. Keep this in mind:
…Get off plane
…Go through immigration or passport control
…Go to baggage claim and get your bags
…Go through customs
…Check back in for your next flight if you are connecting

Remember…don’t joke around. Agents take their jobs seriously and this isn’t the time to act goofy.
You will see signs to avoid cell phone use. They mean it. So, if you need to contact the person picking you up…do it before you are in line. Then, silence your phone and put it away.

Remember...don’t pack any fruits, vegetables, produce, meat, cheese, plants, etc.

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