The end of the year is a good time to review your travel documents and prepare for travel in the coming year, unless of course you're traveling! Not planning to travel internationally this year? (which appears to be a meager 42 persons based on the occupancy rate of all the flights I was on in 2012!) Not renewing your passport PRIOR to the expiration date, means you'll have to apply for a new passport. In person! It's worth it to renew your passport (by mail) even if you don't plan to use it this year.
Here's an end-of-year checklist for international travelers:
- everyone is required to have a valid passport to cross any international border including Canada & Mexico. Average processing time is 4-10 weeks.
You must apply in person. (got an extra $60? get your passport expedited)
- if your passport is due to expire anytime in 2013, consider renewal. (many countries require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months from your planned travel dates) renew by mail
- discover if your planned travel destinations in 2013 require a travel visa. Some countries make you get the visa in advance (China) & others allow you to get a visa at the border. (Bolivia) visit Delta Skymiles Visacentral to find out about your destinations.
- set up "alerts" on airfare booking websites to monitor changes that could save you money on airfare; the single biggest expense of most trips. (Kayak is our fav)
- what travel shots do you need? set up health alerts for your destination and visit a travelers medical clinic near you
For frequent travelers:
- 48-page passport is available at no extra cost IF you request the extra pages in writing at the time you apply/renew. If you forget? It will set you back $82. Ouch.
- apply for Global Entry status for speedy re-entry to US at select airports. Application will burn a $100 hole in your pocket, but the first time you zip past the long immigration line, you won't believe how "cheap" it is! (we used our new trusted traveler memberhship recently when we returned from Galapagos & barely had time to dance a jig at the automated kiosk)
- if you have excellent credit - one of the many perks that comes with the AMEX platinum card is reimbursement for the $100 Global Entry fee! (don't worry, my penny-pinching hubby says the $450 annual fee is more than covered by the benefit package with the card!)
Here's my favorite quote to get you started on your travels in 2013:
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance." anonymous
We appreciate the humor of this quote, but honestly, we promote responsible travel planning and do not encourage travelers to go in to debt for their trips. Whether you travel to the wading pool in your back yard or to the edge of the planet, the most important thing is for you to make it a meaningful experience!