Hoping to travel next year if a vaccine is introduced? So am I, but my concern is that everyone will wait until the week that the vaccine is announced to make their travel plans plus renew their passport, get their real-id., renew TSA Pre-check etc. etc.
If you think Houston traffic causes immense delays, the bureaucratic, reneal delays here could be astronomical. Here’s my recommendations on how you can beat the crowds:
- Check to see if your passport will expire anytime in the next 18 months. You won’t be able to travel internationally if your passport expires within 6 months of your travel date. If it is scheduled to expire, consider submitting the renewal soon. Odds are you don’t have any international travel plans this year, so you won’t miss it even though renewal may take 4-6 months during the current delays. Do this through routine, mail-in methods. The actual offices are closed unless you have a life-or-death matter.
- Check to see if your drivers license is about to expire. Though it would be tempting to renew by mail, if your driver’s license is not a real id, you won’t be able to fly using it starting October 2021 (the deadline has been postponed from this October). Most of us in Louisiana don’t have a real-id driver’s license (which has a star), so my suggestion is to find a notary that deals with license renewals and bring them the needed documentation to obtain the real-id. Though it may cost you a few extra bucks, dealing with a notary is much less time consuming that going to the OMV. Also, some of the OMV offices are closed.
- Is your TSA Pre-Check about to expire? This fantastic program let’s you zip through security lines without having to take your shoes and belt off or take your laptop out of the bag. The cost is $85 for 5 years and the application and interview process are still open. But if you travel internationally, there’s reasons to strongly consider applying for Global Entry.
- How about Global Entry? The program has all the benefits of TSA-Pre Check plus lets you zip through custom lines when you re-enter the U.S. If you’ve ever raced for a connecting flight in Miami or Atlanta after a long international flight, you know how important saving 15-30 minutes is. In addition, it gives you a wallet-sized Real-Id so you won’t have to worry about driver’s license renewal if its not needed. Cost: $100 for 5 years, only $15 more than TSA-Pre Check.
If you are already in Global Entry, renew before the expiration date. You’ll be given an 18-month grace period to continue using the benefits while the Feds decide whether they need to interview you again.
So, while you are stuck with cabin fever, there’s a few checks you can make along with possible renewals to save you time next year.