Is it safe to travel right now?

Is it safe to travel internationally or domestically right now? And how can travelers prepare themselves for safer travel, given recent events?

– Travelers should understand the risk of terrorism in a cold, logical, statistical way. Your odds of being killed by a terrorist overseas or in the air are 1 in 2,200,000. Your odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 600,000. Your odds of being killed by gunfire in the United States are 1 in 18,900.

– Don’t be shy about asking questions. In any city, the folks behind the hotel desk are a great source of information and they want you to have a safe trip. And assure those who will worry about you that you’ll call home every few days. It’s cheap and easy to call back to the US from Europe these days.

– If your fears to travel are insurmountable, go ahead and delay your trip a year. Europe will still be waiting to welcome you with open arms. But personally, I refuse to let terrorists take away my love for travel.

– Traveling should be seen as important and is still a huge unifier – perhaps a more vital force for peace than ever. If you hate terrorism, the most effective way to fight it is to travel a lot, learn about the world, come home, and help our country fit better into this ever-smaller planet.

How to Cut Down Airport Security Wait Lines

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Long lines, lengthy security procedures (involving baggies and mini bottles) & grabby TSA agents are just some of the frustrations that travelers have complained about in recent years. Now, given that the TSA are announcing new security changes this weekend, travelers are worried things may get tougher. If you’re willing to put up a small amount of cash, programs like “CLEAR” or TSA Pre Check are designed to speed you through the security checkpoints.

How do they work?
1. When you subscribe to either program, you receive a card in the mail, which you bring to the airport.

2. As a CLEAR member, you present this card at CLEAR stations in the airport where you are physically scanned (using either your thumbprint or an iris scan) which will allow you to together.

Which is worth getting?
1. It depends on how often you fly, how many are in your traveling party and your most frequented airport e.g.) CLEAR is only presently offered at 13 airports in the US, versus Pre Check which is offered at 133.

2. CLEAR doesn’t earn you anything special beyond speed; you still have to remove belts, laptops, and so on, versus Pre Check which eliminates this.

3. For international travelers, the BEST option may be Global Entry, which for $100 combines both bypassing customs lines and includes a Pre Check bypass the line to the metal detector.

3. As a TSA Pre Check member, you do not have to remove shoes, coats or belts or take your laptop out of its case when passing a security checkpoint.

How much do they cost?

1. CLEAR costs $179 per year, making it a considerably bigger investment than TSA Pre Check which only costs $85 for five years.

2. With CLEAR, however, you can refer a second person to receive a rate of $50 per year, and users may take children under 18 with them through the system for free. They are also currently offering a FREE 2 month trial (subscribed to online.)

3. While CLEAR and Pre Check aren’t affiliated, in airports where they both exist, they work together informally.

Making the Most of Your Air Miles

What every American Traveler Should Know – How “The Big Three” Frequent Flyer Programs are Changing!

Big Three Airlines: American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines
Overview: The major American ‘legacy’ airlines have revamped their Frequent Flyer Programs in 2015. The main change is how members earn miles. Instead of earning miles for miles flown, members now earn miles based on money spent. For example, if one passenger spends $300 for the same flight another passenger spent $600 for, the higher priced ticket would earn double the mileage.

The amount of miles earned per dollar spent also depend on which level of membership you belong to. For example, at Delta Airlines, general members earn 5 miles / per dollar spent while their highest level, Diamond Medallion members earn 11 miles / per dollar spent.

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American- American AAdvantage
United- United Mileage Plus
Delta- Delta Skymiles

How should the average traveler optimize on this situation?

– Choose an airline with hubs located near their home and have destinations they’re interested in.
– Sign up for an airline rewards credit card which awards bonus miles for signing up, making everyday purchases (e.g. like the American Express Delta Sky Miles Credit Card, which gives you 30,000 bonus miles after $1000 purchases in your first 3 months aka a free ticket) and also and use partner companies such as rental car companies, hotels, and restaurants!
– Get your significant other to sign up as well to earn double points
– Card’s such as the American Express Platinum, typically have an annual fee but you can often get it waived for the first year by taking advantage of a online deals.
– Get ahead of the game and Download Apps like MileBlaster (which tracks your miles and alerting you whenever your points are about to expire) or Trip It.

What changes do we see in the future?
– Airlines have promised to make redeeming miles easier, reserving more seating for frequent flyer passengers, and loosening restrictions on when and where miles can be redeemed