The new year is here, thank goodness! Most of us will be making resolutions and lists and getting ready for new adventures. Whether you’re ready to travel soon or still plan to wait a bit, there are things you can be doing now to get ready for that unknown trip at some unknown time. Let’s face it – some parts of trip preparation are not fun. All the more reason to do them now and get them out of the way. When the time comes to get ready for your adventure, it will be all about the fun!
Check your passport – Many destinations require that your passport is valid for 6 months past your trip end date. They can refuse you entry if not, and most airlines will not even let you board the plane if you’re not in compliance. If your passport expires before July 2022, you’ll want to renew it sometime this year. Processing times right now are taking up to 12 weeks, so do it early so you’ll be ready to go when you’re ready to go.
Apply for Global Entry – Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. It’ s a great way to shorten wait times through customs when returning to the US after an international trip. Global Entry participants are also eligible for TSA Pre when booking airline tickets by adding your Known Traveler Number to your reservation. This will often save you time through airport security. The application process takes some time and involves an in-person interview, so begin the process now. Your approval is good for five years. Bonus tip: If you have an eligible American Express card, you can get Global Entry for free.
Get a REAL ID-compliant drivers license – The deadline for this has been pushed back many times and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again this year. But for now, the deadline is October 1, 2021. After that date, everyone over age 18 will need a REAL ID-compliant drivers license, or a few other limited alternatives, to fly within the United States. If you have a star on your drivers license, you’re already set. If you haven’t gotten a license in awhile or have one without the star, plan to get your new one this year.
Get your estate planning documents in order – Wait…what? No, I’m not forgetting that I switched careers. When I was practicing estate planning law, I would always ask my clients why they were coming to me at that time – were they having surgery or were they going on a big trip? They would be amazed at my mind-reading skills because probably 90% of them fell into one of those categories. It’s one of those things we do when we’re getting ready for a trip – think “what if something happens to me?” Don’t be one of those clients that I had to disappoint by saying no, I can’t change your entire estate plan and have your documents ready to sign before you get on the plane tomorrow. Take care of that now and you can confidently leave town without worrying if you’ve taken care of everything.
Dream and prioritize destinations – We’ve all had almost a year to dream of the places we want to visit and things we want to experience. But if you’re like me, that only made the travel wish list grow longer. Start thinking about which one you want to check off first. Is one going to be easier to do soon after covid restrictions lessen? Is one important to do with family members that might not be as available later? Is one a more physical, active adventure that you want to ensure you do while you’re still able? Is there a special milestone coming up that might influence where you go? Right now, all of your dream ideas are probably floating in your head and it’s hard to conceptualize any of them. Pick one to focus on first and it will inspire you to take steps to make it happen.
Contact your favorite travel advisor to start planning – Hopefully that’s me! 😉 Many destinations, tours, etc in 2021 are already filling up as everyone anticipates the return of travel. Even if you’re looking at 2022 or beyond, now is the time to start planning. Let’s get started exploring the possibilities and putting some actual plans in place.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!