Author: waleed

Global Entry: The Application and Interview Process for 2019

No one enjoys the feeling of coming back from a great trip abroad only to find yourself stuck in line at US Customs. The welcoming of standing amongst tired and sweaty travelers makes you remember that the vacation is over and it’s time to get back to regular life. But this process can be skipped entirely with the help of Global Entry and makes the travel back home a little less dreadful.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a US Customs program that allows approved travelers entering the United States to go through an automatic kiosk instead of going through the standard process of waiting in line to be allowed entrance into the country. It works by only going to a kiosk, inserting your passport and placing your fingerprint. From there, the machine will give you a receipt and allow you to proceed to the baggage claim.

Additional Perks

In addition to being able to skip the lines at the US Customs, Global Entry also gives you TSA pre-check privileges. Similar to being able to cut through lines at a watermark, the TSA pre-check allows you to go through the TSA security lines without having to take off any of your clothing or putting aside personal belongings.

Although you can get the TSA pre-check on its own, getting the Global Entry will include the pre-check for just $15 more. The Global Entry lasts up to 5 years, which for people who travel often turns out to be very convenient.

What is the Difference Between the Global Entry vs TSA Pre?

TSA Pre

The TSA PreCheck provides expedited security screening for anyone with TSA Pre benefits for the flight departing from airports around the United States.

Global Entry

The global entry service provides the TSA Pre benefits plus expedited U.S. customs and border Protection for international travelers when entering the United States.

Global Entry Requirements

Since this program was designed for travelers that have no history of crime or problems with traveling in general, make sure that you clear any of those problems up before you apply for Global Entry. Things like that can be reasons for your Global Entry denial as it might not consider you a low-risk traveler.

Besides not having a criminal record or any other serious infractions, not any traveler can get accepted into the Global Entry program. The program is limited to citizens of:

  • United States
  • Argentina
  • India
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Mexico

Even if you are a citizen of one of these countries, getting Global Entry permission as a non-US citizen is still a bit difficult.

How to Apply for Global Entry

There is only one way to apply for Global Entry, which is through the online application. Regardless of where you are from or your age, the form is the same.

The application will require personal information and specific questions about your past and any criminal history. It is done to ensure that everyone that gets approval for the Global Entry is not a threat to any other travelers. Once you sign up and pay the application cost of $100.00 which includes the TSA Pre you will have to wait for a conditional approval this approval. Once you have this approval you will be able to schedule an appointment at any of the enrollment centers for approval. Once you have been approved you will then be able to activate your membership.

Cost for the Global Entry

Once you have completed the application, there is a $100 fee to have it submitted. Remember that the money for your application will not be refunded if you are denied Global Entry, so make sure you look over all your information before submitting.

Global Entry Enrollment Center

If you get approval, you will have to schedule an appointment with a Global Entry Enrollment Center. These are usually located at airports or borders, depending on where you are traveling. These appointments are often booked for a couple of months ahead, so make sure to make your appointment well before you go on your trip.

For the scheduled interview, bring your passport, proof of approval, and evidence of residence. The meeting will not take long and will mostly be repeating the questions that the application already asked you. Once you leave the meeting, the time it will take for you to get your Global Entry usually takes between 3 to 5 weeks to be delivered.

Cruising Soon? Find Out About All Passport Requirements Before You Cruise

A cruise is an excellent way to bring the most popular tourist destinations to you without having to go very far on your own. Whatever the time of the year, there is never a wrong time to enjoy yourself on a cruise to whatever part of the world you dream of going. Going on a cruise may require certain important documents before boarding, so make sure you always know what you need before you get on.

Some Cruise May Require a Passport  

There are three main instances where you will need a passport to get on a cruise ship.

  1. If you are beginning your cruise at a US port and disembark internationally, you will need a passport. For instance, if you depart from New York and arrive in Acapulco, Mexico, you will need a passport to present to officials. In the following situation since you are traveling between the US and Mexico, a passport card is valid. 
  2. A cruise that begins at one port and ends in a different one requires a passport. Even if the two ports are both located in the US, traveling between different ports requires that the traveler have a passport before boarding the ship. Although not having a passport may not get you in as much trouble in the US as it would in other countries, it’s best to have one for your safety.
  3. If your cruise passes by a foreign country and is in their territorial waters, you will need a passport. Since a country with a sea or ocean has an extended border for up to 13.8 miles (22.2 km), going any closer to another country will require a passport, even if you do not step foot on their mainland.

Other Forms of Identification for a Cruise

Even if you choose to travel without a passport, you need identification regardless. An ID with your photos, such as a driver’s license or a birth certificate is both acceptable forms that can substitute a passport. You can only use the following if you are traveling between locations in the US and end in the same port you started in. 

If you need a passport but don’t plan on traveling other than the cruise, you can obtain a temporary passport. This is usually done in emergencies for those who don’t have time. Even with this option, it is recommended that you get a regular passport before you go on a cruise.

Applying for a Passport

There are many places you can apply for a passport. The table below will provide the sites, and the type of services offered. Also, you can compare prices for the services.

Acceptance FacilitiesStandard Service (2-4 Weeks)Expedited Service (2-3 Weeks)Rush Service (1 Day – 2 Weeks)Cost
Post Offices, County Clerk’s Offices, Courthouses, and LibrariesYesPost Office OnlyNoStandard

$115 (minor)

$145 (adult)

Expedited

$175 (minor)

$205 (adult)

Regional AgencyNoNoYes            (within 24 hours)$160
Private ExpeditorsNoNoYesCall for Pricing

When you submit your form, include the supporting documents for identification and proof of citizenship. Without the additional documentation, your application will get denied. Also, include the appropriate amount of payment according to the service you select. Not doing so will also result in a denial or delay in the process.

If you decide to go to a regional passport agency or private expeditor, you must show proof of travel. It can be a hotel reservation or flight itinerary. Regional agencies require an appointment. So, call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 to arrange a meeting. You may expect to drive out of state since not each state has an office.

Cruise Requirements

Mexico. US citizens are strongly advised to take a valid passport when going on a cruise to Mexico. There are alternative documents to consider if you don’t have a passport. However, these documents may not be accepted if the trip is not a closed-loop cruise. The alternative documents are a birth certificate, Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), or a passport card.

The Bahamas. A Bahamas cruise has the same requirement as a Mexico cruise. A passport is not necessary if the trip is closed loop. Regardless, it is better to travel with it if you have one. A passport card is the next best document to use as identification. For minors, a birth certificate is acceptable.

Cuba. Cuba is another of many countries that require a valid passport for entry. Also, the passport must have at least six months validity from the date of entry. In addition to a valid passport, a tourist visa is necessary. US citizens without a passport can use other documents that will prove citizenship and identity. A birth certificate, EDL, or passport card.

Alaska. US citizens do not require a passport to visit Alaska. Other forms of identification are acceptable. Non-US citizens traveling from the US will need a passport and a multiple reentry visa or B-2 Visitor’s Visa to enter Alaska.

Canada. A cruise to Canada will require a passport. All members of the NEXUS or FAST programs can use either document for entry. If you don’t have a passport, alternative documents like a birth certificate, EDL, or passport card are accepted.

The above alternative documents are accepted if you will seek entry at any borders from a cruise ship. A valid passport is mandatory if you will fly to all of them.

Study Abroad Sufficient Funds Requirement

What is Proof of Sufficient Funds?

At this point in your life, your parents probably won’t work as your personal secretary anymore so you are left to gather the information necessary for studying abroad. Many students get confused about the study abroad sufficient funds requirement. There are a lot of pieces of information to collect and applications to complete. Information pertaining to you leaving the country (probably for the first time) is like a foreign language. Insurance, funds, visas, even applying for a passport- how do you keep track of what is necessary?!

It is also imperative you do it correctly and understand fully. That’s where we come in.

How can I properly provide ‘Proof of study abroad sufficient funds’?

Typically you can’t go wrong with having a printout of your personal bank account activity, or an official form from your bank to show how much money you have in your account. Be sure to include the date you last updated it so you can prove it is as current as possible.

Other forums have said that some countries will simply accept your funds if you can prove you have a credit card account. It is best to be prepared (old school style) with printed out information because you can’t expect to show the man at customs your banking app to prove your sufficient funds. Some travelers also suggest cold hard cash. We cold hard do not suggest traveling with that much cash money EVER.

When traveling always have your documents and several backups of them because you never know the mood of the patrol officer you will have on a given day. Though that doesn’t sound totally reliable, some countries governments are more relaxed and some are more strict. You are better off being over prepared for these circumstances versus being forced to go home.

Why is study abroad sufficient funds required?

The country you are temporarily entering wants to ensure you have enough money to live there without causing crime and mischief to obtain money, and rightfully so. Also, the government wants to make sure you get the most out of your education instead of stressing about money.

Basically, it means that you need to provide the border control, embassy, or whomever with proof that you have enough money in your bank account to last you for the duration of your trip. Be careful because this changes per country and varies with how long you stay. They can be strict about study abroad sufficient funds and you don’t want to get denied at the border.

Presuming you will be in the given country for 12 months, below is a list to gauge how much you will need to have in your accounts to prove your sufficient funds. Please check this before your travel as the number fluctuates per year with inflation and deflation of the US dollar.

Germany- 8,700 euro
Italy- 450 euro a month/ 5,400 euro for year
France- 615 euro a month/ 7,380 euro for a year
Australia- 19,830 AUD ($14,876)
Singapore- $2,500
United Kingdom- $350 per month of stay, $4,200
New Zealand- about $10,000

TSA PreCheck: Is It Worth Getting? What Are Some Benefits Of Getting It?

How many times were you so close in missing your flight? We all know that it is best to get to the airport a couple of hours before the scheduled flight departure. However, we have no control over the journey from home to the airport, and it can sometimes become a challenge.

So, if you can eliminate standing in line to get check by security at the airport, wouldn’t you?

Well, this is where TSA PreCheck comes into play. It will take away the time you spent standing in line to go through security. If this is something you are considering, here are some tips that will help you decide whether the TSA PreCheck is for you.

What is the TSA PreCheck?

The TSA Precheck is a program that started in October of 2011. It is run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The reason for the PreCheck program is to expedite the security checkpoint process for low-risk travelers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection administer four other similar programs. These programs are used for personal and business travelers who enter or leave the U.S. The programs include Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST. Unlike the other four, FAST is used for commercial trucking crossing borders.

How Does TSA PreCheck Works?

To use the TSA Precheck program, you must complete an application and the in-person interview at one of the locations. Once you receive approval, you will get a 5-year membership. After five years, you must renew the membership.

As a member, you will get a Known Traveler Number. The number will give you access to the TSA PreCheck security lanes. Add the number to your reservation when you purchase your ticket online or notify your carrier. Your boarding pass will then have the “TSA PreCheck” on it. Without it, you will not have access to the PreCheck security lanes.

Children 12 and under can accompany their parents in the PreCheck lanes. Older than 12 will require their Known Travel Number.

If the airline you will travel with is not a member of the TSA PreCheck program, you cannot use the PreCheck security line. Verify with your carrier if it is in the program before going to the airport.

How Do You Know If You Qualify To Become A Member Of The TSA PreCheck Program?

The TSA PreCheck program is for any U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who wish to apply. However, TSA has some restrictions that will disqualify you from becoming a member.

If you commit any transportation violations or provide false information on your application, it can disqualify you from gaining membership.

Also, there are several criminal offenses that will disqualify you as well. Look at the link for a list of offenses that will disqualify an applicant.

TSA PreCheck Benefits Are Better Than Standard Screening

Going through the standard screening will take time. You must remove your shoe, belt, jacket, and any electronic devices from your bag. After going through the security checkpoint, you must not gather your possessions and put them on again.

The process alone will take the time you may not have if you must board the flight in minutes. All this you will avoid in a PreCheck lane.

A PreCheck lane has its perks. You don’t need to remove your shoe, belt, or any electronics. You can keep your jacket on as you walk throw. However, on some few occasions, you may be randomly get selected for extra screening. Even if it was the case, the process is still quicker than the standard screening.

How Much Will You Pay For TSA PreCheck Membership?

The benefits of the program far outweigh the cost. Even so, the cost of membership is $85, and you will have it for five years. However, the price for the application is none refundable. So, if your application got rejected, you will not get your money back.

You can use any major credit cards to pay for the application. Some cards also offer this as a perk to their customers. Check with your credit card to see if you have it available to you.

Applying For TSA PreCheck Membership

You must start the application process online. Visit the TSA website and provide all the information the application requires. Once you complete the application and submit it, you can schedule an appointment at the nearest enrollment center.

At the appointment, you must provide identification, proof of citizenship, and your immigration document if applicable. You must also answer some questions and fingerprinting.

The entire process usually takes 2-3 weeks to get a response. During that time TSA conducts a background check. Upon approval, you will receive your Known Travel Number to start using the TSA PreCheck lanes.

Airlines And Airports That Participate With The TSA PreCheck Program

Plenty of airlines participates with the program. However, there are still many more who are not participating yet. TSA continues to work with and continue to add airlines which are currently not in the program.

Currently, there are over 200 airports that participate in the TSA PreCheck program. You can click on this link to determine the airlines and airports that participate in the program.

 

The Single Parent’s Guide to Getting a Kids Passport

The day has finally come: you are going to take a vacation.

But there’s a hitch to your well-laid plans you didn’t anticipate. You’re divorced, and you want to take the little guys and gals with you. But they don’t have a passport.

It seems you’re in quite a pickle.

We’re here to smooth it all out. Getting your kids passport doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. With our easy-to-follow guide, you’ll have a shiny new passport ready for the little one and will be on your way out the door.

Why All the Rules?

You’ve probably heard the horror stories about parents kidnapping their children. The extra layer of rules surrounding children passports is to prevent such travesties from occurring.

For this reason, the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program was created. Through this program, parents are notified if a previous partner attempts to obtain a passport for their child.

If an application is submitted, officials contact both parents to confirm if the application was consensual.

Always be open and honest about submitting a passport application to your child’s other parent. While you may be inclined to see the trip as none of the other person’s business, it’s important that he or she understands where you are going and why.

So while the extra hoops parents have to jump through to get their kid’s passport might be exasperating, they exist for a good reason.

Documents You Will Need

In addition to meeting the parameters outlined below, parents will need several documents to successfully obtain their child’s passport:

  • The passport application
  • Two colored, up-to-date photos of the child
  • Your child’s proof of citizenship
  • Evidence that you are the parent

To prove you are the parent, utilize birth certificates, divorce or custody decrees, adoption decrees or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.

Without these basic documents, a parent will be unable to get a passport for their offspring. However, depending on specific circumstances, parents may need to supply further proof to take their child abroad.

How to Obtain Your Kids Passport

The steps for obtaining a passport vary according to the family’s unique circumstances. We’ll cover the basics here.

If Both Parents Can Sign

This is the easiest and most convenient way to obtain a child’s passport.

If both parents are able and willing to sign the document, a single parent should begin by filling out a passport application for the child. Next, fill in everything on the passport, but do not sign it.

Now it’s time to call your ex-spouse. Find a convenient time to meet him or her at the passport office. Be polite and take the time to answer any questions or concerns.

When you meet at the passport office, make sure your child is with you and that you have all the required documents. Upon entering, both parents will be asked to sign the application before a passport official.

If One Parent Consents But Can’t Sign

In some cases, one parent is willing to let their child get a passport but is unable to sign the passport application or meet you at the office. For these cases, a consent form is required.

Be sure to ask the ex well in advance to set the time aside. He or she must complete Form DS-3053, which is also called a Statement of Consent.

In addition to completing the form, the individual must have it notarized. Be sure to warn the other parent that he or she shouldn’t sign the form until they are in the presence of a public official who will notarize it.

The other parent should also provide a photocopy of his or her driver’s license (the front and the back).

These documents are taken to the passport office.

If One Parent Has Sole Custody

Some parents have sole custody of their children. These individuals should provide the court order that established custody along with the other basic documents.

Doing so establishes you have the authority to apply your child for a passport without the other parent’s consent.

It Is Not Possible for One Parent to Sign

In instances where the second parent is unavailable to provide a signature, yet another form should be provided.

Form DS-5525 should be completed by the issuing parent. It is often referred to as the “Statement of Special Circumstances.”

In this document, be as specific as possible. Officials may contact you with specific questions or to request further documents about the scenario.

A Note About Birth Certificates

If you are the only parent on your child’s birth certificate, it is not necessary for the other person to sign the passport application. Make sure you bring your offspring’s birth certificate as proof.

Things to Keep in Mind

Start applying for your passport early. Sometimes, it can take six weeks or more to obtain a passport! For single parents with exceptional circumstances, this length may be considerably longer.

It’s also important to have an open conversation with the child’s other parent throughout this entire process.

Doing so will help if any steps must be taken by the other parent. Give him or her plenty of time to notarize any paperwork and ask in advance for a convenient time to meet at the passport office.

Always take the time to research any specifications on the US Department of State’s travel website, as some documents (for instance, photos) have specific requirements.

Finally, keep in mind that your child’s passport is only valid for five years. It is not renewable; if another passport needs to be issued, you will have to go through the same process all over again.

Want to Expedite the Process?

If this procedure seems drawn out to you, don’t stress it. At US Passport Help Guide, we know all about upcoming vacations and limited time.

That’s why we offer the convenient Expedited Passport Order Form online. It’s for soon-to-be vacationers just like you who are ready for some rays and relaxation.

Choose your level of expedited service. In a hurry? We offer expedited kids passports in as few as one day.

Skip the metaphorical line and jump ahead. It’s time to go on that vacation.

Keep It Together: 10 Passport Pouches For Travel

More than 300,000 American passports are lost or stolen in the US every year.

Losing your passport can really ruin your travel plans. Plus, you also have to go through the hassle and expense of applying for a new one.

But, thieves physically stealing your passport isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when traveling. Passports now include a small radio frequency identification chip (RFID), making them more secure and convenient. But, there is growing concern that thieves could steal your information with a portable scanner.

To keep your passport and other valuables secure and organized, it’s a good idea to invest in a passport holder. Many of the latest models also come with RFID-blocking technology.

Here are some of the best passport pouches for travel to ensure you enjoy a safe trip next time you go away.

1. Bestkee Passport Wallet

The Bestkee passport wallet is perfect for replacing your regular wallet when you’re away. Made from soft Italian leather, it’s both elegant and functional, making it perfect for all your travel needs.

As well as its simple, classic design, this passport and ticket holder includes different slots for storing your passport, cash, cards, and boarding passes. Staying organized never looked so stylish!

2. BAGSMART Passport Holder

Are you looking for a passport pouch that keeps all your documents safe and organized? This BAGSMART model has more than enough room for everything you might need when traveling.

The slim and minimal design includes anti-rip fabric and separate compartments for cash, cards and your passport. There’s also space for documents such as boarding passes and travel visas. And, it’s lined with RFID-blocking fabric to keep all your information safe.

3. Spectrashell Waterproof Passport Case

Some passport holders are waterproof. But, the Spectra shell passport case goes one step further – you can submerge it in water without damaging your passport. In fact, should your passport fall into the water, this case will keep it afloat?

This case will ensure your documents are safe and dry if you’re island-hopping with all your belongings. It’s also great if you’re going out on the water for the day and don’t want to leave your passport behind.

4. Fintie Vegan Leather Passport Holder

Many people prefer the durability of a leather passport wallet to a nylon passport holder. If you’re the same but don’t like the cruelty factor of real leather, this Fintie vegan leather passport holder is perfect for you. And, not only is this passport holder certified vegan, it costs less than $10!

There are lots of different designs and finishes, and it also includes RFID-blocking technology. Plus, with different slots, you can keep your cards and boarding passes together with your passport.

5. Auopro Money Belt and Passport Holder

Unlike the usual bulky waist wallets, this Auopro money belt is slim enough to fit under clothing without being noticeable.

This passport pouch includes RFID-blocking technology. It’s also made from water-repellent anti-rip material for extra durability.

Inside, zipped pockets provide a secure location for your passport, cards, cash, and phone. And, with two stretchy belts to hold the pouch in place, it won’t sag when you load it up.

6. Arca Passport Holder

If you prefer to keep everything in one place, this Arca Travel Gear holder provides some serious organization.

This passport holder has various compartments with space for up to three passports, boarding passes, and five credit cards. Plus, there’s enough room for your smartphone and even a six-inch e-reader.

Once zipped up, the case is lightweight and comes with RFID-blocking technology, as well as an adjustable shoulder strap for easy wear.

7. Zero Grid Family Passport Holder

This Zero Grid multiple passport holders is perfect for family trips when you need to worry about keeping your children’s passports safe as well as your own.

This model has space for six passports and up to ten credit cards. And, it even includes a handy mini pen for those times when you need to fill out travel forms in transit.

8. Pacsafe RFID Blocking Bi-Fold Wallet

If you’re heading to a less-than-secure destination and are worried about thieves then this Pacsafe travel wallet is ideal.

Pacsafe specializes in products such as bags and wallets for travel that protect your valuables from theft. This particular model is great for backpackers who plan to spend time walking around crowded areas where pickpockets might consider you a target.

The wrist strap is strong and designed to tighten on your wrist if pulled. This makes it difficult for thieves to snatch it from your possession. Inside, the pouch has room for six cards, cash, coins, and several passports. Plus, it comes with RFID-blocking technology for extra security.

9. Lovie Style Phone-Charging Passport Holder

Long trips can often mean reaching your destination with zero phone battery. But, the Lovie Style passport holder helps solve this problem by including a backup phone charger.

The removable power pack is compatible with both iPhones and Android models. And, it comes with a charging cord which tucks easily into the fold of your passport.

The case itself comes in five different colors and includes RFID-blocking technology. Inside, it can hold credit cards and cash, as well as your phone and passport.

10. Travelambo Neck Wallet and Passport Holder

This Travelambo neck wallet is a good choice if you prefer to keep your travel documents and other valuables are hidden away.

The sleek, compact design ensures it lays flat against your body. An

9 Enchanting and Secret Vacation Spots to Travel

New York City, Walt Disney World, and Paris are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world getting millions of visitors every year. Does the thought of being surrounded by thousands of tourists in these classic destinations make you cringe?

Well, don’t worry. We’re not going to list any of those types of places on this list. We’ve got 9 secret vacation spots that will be free of crowds, leaving you to enjoy discovering a new place and relaxing during your vacation instead of fighting through screaming children at every turn.

1. Mayotte

When many people think “vacation”, they think of a tropical beach paradise. Most flock to the classic Hawai’i or Aruba, but if you want something not as well known but just as gorgeous, consider Mayotte.

Mayotte is technically under French control, but it isn’t the crowded tourist destination that France is. This gorgeous island is situated in the Indian Ocean surrounded by coral reefs and tropical lagoons.

You can do classic beach activities, walk through exotic nature reserves, and explore some of the largest enclosed lagoons on Earth. Getting to and staying on this remote little island doesn’t come cheap, but if you have the funds, it’s a great secret getaway.

2. Huacachina, Peru

Machu Picchu isn’t the only amazing destination in Peru. While most people flock there, consider checking out Huacachina instead.

This little village is an oasis in the middle of the desert. A little lake in the middle of the town provides water in an otherwise dry and barren area of Peru. While there aren’t a ton of activities for you to do here, it’s great for those who want to explore and interact with locals.

You can also go sandboarding, try local cuisine, ride in dune buggies, and more.

3. Tuvalu

Let’s give you another island paradise, shall we? This Polynesian island is smack dab in the middle of Hawai’i and Australia. It’s got the gorgeous tropical weather and environment of both those locations without the huge amount of tourists.

This is where you go if you want a classic beach vacation: with no one area of the island higher than 16 feet above sea level, you’re in for a lot of relaxing days on the beach enjoying the sun and sand.

Be sure to go in between storm seasons to avoid getting caught in dangerous weather.

4. Nagorno Karabakh

Travel isn’t all about lounging on the beach, though. If you’re more into learning about history, exploring new places, and understanding local culture, Nagorno Karabakh might be the best choice for you.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of this place: that’s why it made this “unknown locations” travel list! Nagorno Karabakh is in the same region as Armenia and Iran.

Museums, classic buildings, churches, war memorials, and more are scattered around this region. This gives you ample places to learn about local history and understand the culture.

It’s also quite mountainous and covered in forests, which make for great hikes if you’re into the outdoors.

5. Ibaraki, Japan

Tokyo is by far the most popular destination in Japan, but don’t underestimate other locations in this gorgeous country. One such location is Ibaraki.

This place is known for gorgeous natural sights. If you love the outdoors and nature, consider coming here for a secluded and awesome vacation. Hitachi Seaside Park is well known for the gorgeous fields of natural flowers that grow during all seasons.

You’ll also get gorgeous mountain views with Mt. Tsukuba. Whether you look from afar or decide to tackle one of the many hiking trails available to you, you won’t run out of things to do in this little city in Japan.

6. Marieta Islands, Mexico

This must truly be one of the most secret travel destination in the world considering you need to apply for and get a permit in order to go there. Beautiful beaches and access to awesome marine wildlife like dolphins, sea turtles, and whales will make the process of getting there worth it.

You’re also guaranteed a quiet trip considering it’s so well-regulated to prevent hoards of people from visiting.

7. Ouezzane, Morocco

Morocco itself is a popular tourist country, especially for those living in Europe. However, Ouezzane goes relatively untouched by tourists. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting, though.

This city is filled with religious and traditional architecture, shrines, and culture making it perfect for those who love learning about local culture. Known as one of the top spiritual destinations in the country, you’re sure to learn about local religion and religious history when visiting Ouezzane.

You’ll also get to see street art and buildings and be able to see local merchants for a traditional memento to remember your trip and support the local economy.

8. Kyrgyzstan

This central Asian country is often overshadowed by the neighboring China and Kazakhstan in terms of tourism, which is perfect for those looking to travel to hidden gems.

The landscape here is one of the most compelling features: wide open fields, verdure green valleys, huge lakes at the base of mountains, skiing, and more await you. You should also check out the city of Osh. It’s a town with museums, buildings, and markets built directly into the mountains.

9. Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are a British Territory located in the South Atlantic. The Falklands are one of the few places in the world you can see creatures like:

  • Seals
  • Albatross
  • Penguins
  • Whales

While the temperature might put some people off (usually is quite cold), the adventure and amount to explore are amazing. You can take wildlife tours, explore the open landscape via small planes or 4-wheelers, go hiking, fishing, and more.

The local history is also quite interesting with quite a few museums and war memorials to check out.

Secret Vacation Spots That Will Blow Your Mind

Break up the classic travel routine by jetting off to one of these 9 secret vacation spots. You’ll get all the adventure and relaxation you’ve been craving alongside a sense of wonder and fresh opportunities.

All of these destinations are abroad, which means you’re going to need an updated passport and potentially a travel visa. Check out this guide to get all of that straight before you jet off.

Keeping Your Passport Safe and Other Travel Safety Tips

Traveling abroad can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Science has even proven that there are health benefits associated with collecting stamps in your passport.

If you have a trip coming up, you’ll want to make sure that you can enjoy every second of it — and that definitely doesn’t include losing your passport. Without that important travel document, all of your amazing plans could come to a stop.

Learn how to keep your passport safe with these key travel safety tips.

1. Know When You Need It

In some countries, you might need to keep your passport or other forms of identification on you at all times. In others, it’s okay if you leave it back in your hotel room.

You might not even need your passport to travel if you’re driving or taking a train across a border. If you’re driving to Canada, for example, it might not be necessary. (Always double check this before you leave without your passport, though.)

One way you can keep your passport safe is by only carrying it with you if absolutely necessary.

2. Keep It Hidden

When you do have your passport with you as you explore your new location, make sure you keep it hidden at all times. Pickpockets are a real threat in some countries. The last thing you want is to be in a foreign country without a passport.

To reduce the risk of having your passport stolen, use something like a money belt if possible. You can also wear your passport in a pouch tucked under your clothing so that it’s not obvious.

Above all, you want to avoid pulling out things like your passport in public.

3. Lock It Up

If carrying your passport with you makes you nervous and you know you won’t need it that day, don’t just leave your passport unattended in your room. (This is especially important if you’re in a hostel, Air BnB, or any other kind of shared living space.)

No matter how safe you think your things are, you should always lock up your passport if it’s not on your person. If you’re staying in a hotel, your room might have a safe in it where you can keep your passports. If there’s no safe, lock it inside your luggage and keep that somewhere secure.

A loose passport is asking for trouble.

4. Stay Aware

No matter what you choose, you should always stay aware of your surroundings. While it’s easy to get caught up in all of the new sights and experiences, pickpockets thrive on distraction.

Getting too caught up in the moment could put you at risk of having your valuables stolen.

You don’t have to be jumpy or scared, but it’s best to have a level of situational awareness at all times. Understand the area that you’re in and be careful in crowded spaces. Packed public transportation offers a good cover for people to “accidentally” bump into you and walk away with your belongings.

5. Make Copies

No one wants to be in a situation where their passport is stolen. If the worst happens, though, you’re going to need to be prepared. The best thing you can do is have multiple copies of your passport available.

The first place you should go if your passport is stolen is to the United States embassy. They’ll be able to help you get a new passport much faster if you already have a scan of your passport to help verify your identity.

Before you go, leave a copy or two with your friends and family as well. If you lose it, you’ll be able to call them up to check important information like your passport number.

6. Separate Your Valuables

Back at home, you might carry everything in one place. Men tend to have all of their important cards and cash in a wallet, while women carry all of their valuables in their purses.

It’s tempting to do the same thing when you’re abroad. If your wallet is stolen, though, then everything important is gone — and a bad situation just got worse.

Instead, make sure that you separate your valuables. Don’t store your passport copies in the same place as your passport, and don’t keep cash with your passport. That way, even in a worst case scenario, you haven’t lost everything.

7. Double Check in Private

If you’re being really careful with all of your documents, you’re probably going to want to double check just to make sure that everything is still in place. You might even find yourself touching where your valuables are without even thinking about it.

Whatever you do, don’t double check in public to make sure that your passport is still where you put it. You might grant yourself some peace of mind, but you also just let everyone else around you know where your passport is!

Instead, wait until you’re in private to check on your valuables. A good place to do this is in a bathroom stall where no one else can see you.

8. Don’t Give It to Anyone Else

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how common situations are when people ask to hold on to your passports.

Whether it’s hotel staff who insist that they have to keep your passport for the duration of your stay or a security guard who asks for identification, there are a variety of reasons someone might ask to keep your passport. Unless they’re a government official, this is not a good idea.

If they absolutely must keep some form of your identification, see if a passport copy will work instead. In some cases, you can also use an enhanced driver’s license or state ID card.

Use These Travel Safety Tips on Your Next Trip

The next time you travel out of the country, make sure you keep these travel safety tips in mind. You’ll make sure that your experience is memorable for all the right reasons!

Don’t have your passport quite yet? Don’t worry — we can help you figure that out. Check out our guide to learn more about the process of applying for a United States passport.

Help! What Do I Do About a Lost Passport?

42% of Americans hold passports. That gives them ample chances to lose them. This can ruin an entire vacation, or at least make it extremely stressful. It can also make it so you can’t travel out of the United States. For some, that may not be a worry. But if you’ve got a trip planned abroad, it might be a huge drama.

So, if you find yourself in this situation, what do you do?

In this article, we’ll discuss what you can do in the event of a lost passport and how to replace it.

Report Your Passport Lost or Stolen

The first thing you’ll need to do is report your passport as lost or stolen. Passports are the property of the United States government, meaning that no one can unlawfully keep them.

You can use this link to report your stolen or lost passport online.

Alternately, you can print out and mail the DS-64 form. The form itself will have an address when you can mail it.

You can also call 1-877-487-2778 to report your lost or stolen passport. You will need to fill out the DS-64 form, however, if you want your passport replaced. You will send this form in with form DS-11 to get a new passport.

Reporting a Lost Passport Abroad

If you’re abroad and you’ve lost your passport, this can be a little bit trickier. But all is not lost.

Find your nearest US Embassy or consulate. They will be able to issue you an emergency passport to use to get you either back to the United States, your home country or to use on the rest of your vacation.

Many times, these passports are labeled “emergency” and are only valid for a short time. They can be valid for up to a year and will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

What to Do If You’ve Lost Your Passport in the US But Have a Trip Abroad Soon

You’ll need to apply in person at your nearest passport agency or center. They will be able to help you get your passport as quickly as possible. Before you go, you will need to make an appointment.

If You’re Not Leaving the Country Within the Next Three Weeks

If you’re not leaving the country within the next three weeks, you can apply to have your passport replaced at your nearest passport acceptance center. You may or may not need an appointment. This will depend on the agency and their restrictions.

Replacing a Passport

When you apply for a passport originally, you will need to fill out form DS-11. This can typically be sent via US mail. But since you do not have your previous passport, they cannot readily verify your identity. As such, you’ll need to fill out form DS-11 in person at an agency. This can also be done at US consulates.

Verifying Your Identity

You will also need to verify your identity before the government issues you with you with a new passport. Your identity can be verified at the passport agency center. You should go to your nearest one for the most convenient processing.

Passport agents may work at your local post office or courthouse. They will verify your identity. You must bring a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization papers to prove you are a United States citizen.

Additionally, you will need to provide a state or other ID, such as a passport card, that has been issued to you at least six months ago. This is to prove your identity against your other documents.

The passport agent will witness you signing the documents and then will seal them for you. They will give them to you to process either with an agency or to send yourself.

Other Documents You Will Need

If you are traveling within the next few weeks, you will need to bring proof of travel. This can include an itinerary or tickets for your travel location.

You will also need two 2″ x 2″ photos of yourself that comply with the United States passport photo policy. These photos will be placed on your new passport, which will be valid for the next 10 years. If you are under the age of 16, your passport will only be valid for the next 5 years.

How Much Does It Cost?

When replacing a lost or stolen passport, your application will be treated as though it is a new one. This means you’ll send in your documents and must pay the same $110 fee that everyone who is applying for a passport for the first time pays. If you are under the age of 16, you will pay a fee of $80.

This is payable at the time you make the application.

You can opt for expedited service that is $60. This will allow your new passport to be with you much more quickly.

A Lost or Stolen Passport Isn’t the End of the World

While having a lost passport can be stressful, it shouldn’t color your entire experience, especially if you’ve lost it abroad. American embassies and consulates are used to your fellow countrymen coming to them in a panic about lost or stolen passports. They will know exactly how to handle it and can help you immediately.

For more information about everything related to US passports, visit our site. It’s chock full of information related to renewals, passport guidelines and everything you’ll need for getting your passport without a headache.