I have come to expect excellence from Odysseys Unlimited and have never been disappointed.
Michael E. Leahy Oak Lawn, IL
We have been to many, many places all over the world, with many different tour companies. None of them compare to the Odysseys Unlimited small group experience.
Nancy & William Sondervan Sherrills Ford, NC
The small group is wonderful and the quality of tour directors is exceptional.
Bill Jones Vancouver, WA
All that was advertised was delivered. Consider this tour to be a real value as to sites visited, itinerary, hotels, and travel between sites.
Susan & Paul Krupp Georgetown, TX
Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.
Barbara Schoetzau New York, NY
Very early in the tour we saw we got much more for our dollar than anything we could have put together ourselves. The value exceeded our expectations.
Tara Malmberg Quitman, TX
Good value for $ — accommodations, food, guide, itinerary, and [small] size of group. Have traveled with other tour groups ... and like you best.
Jean Hall Prairie Village, KS
We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.
Roger Soder Seattle, WA
The combination of excellent hotels with a small group is the way I like to travel. I would highly recommend Odysseys to everyone I know.
Patricia Joyce Peoria, AZ
We love the small group experience.
Dave & Alice Wilson Williamstown, MA
Odysseys is the best company we have traveled with. You have first-rate tours at affordable prices, with great itineraries, excellent guides, and outstanding accommodations.
Jane & Ronald Decker Chicago, IL
Odysseys tours are just right for us: great value, nice group size, complete trips, sufficient free time.
Laurin & Phyllis LeTart Shepherdstown, WV
This trip far exceeded our expectations: the small group size, the quality of the tour director (the best we’ve ever had), the ability to have dinners on our own, the lower cost without a significant reduction in the quality of the accommodations.
Barry & Bobbi Rosner Somerset, NJ
I thought I would not like traveling in a group but I was wrong! [Our tour director] was so good at making the group seem as one that it turned out to be the best part of the trip.
Donna Stevenson Dublin, OH
It was the best value in travel we’ve ever had. It was a wonderful experience.
Trish Merrill & Mac White Austin, TX
This was my 7th trip with Odysseys and they keep getting better and better.
Merle Frank Miami, FL
Love the small group format and the ease of traveling with arrangements made for us.
Ken & Carolyn Helm Newburgh, IN
Tour exceeded my expectations having never taken a group tour. An excellent experience – can’t wait for my next one!
Ronni Goldberg New York, NY
Absolutely the best bang for the buck – organization, quality, consistency.
Harvey Wine Dallas, TX
I like the small size of Odysseys tours. [You] have excellent Tour Directors, great itineraries and spend more time in areas than some of the other tour companies.
Lynn Bafaloukos Glendale, AZ
Because of the group size and outstanding guides, you make travel easy for us!
Essential Knowledge: Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Posted January 14, 2019
We’ve written before about Global Entry and Mobile Passport, but felt it was important to gather all the information in one place. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and Mobile Passport. Say goodbye to long airport lines.
Before diving into the minutiae, here is a brief overview of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.
What is Global Entry?
Your ticket to a short wait at Customs. Global Entry is a program from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that allows “trusted travelers” to skip those long Customs lines upon return to the United States. These travelers can use specially designed automated kiosks instead of talking to a Customs agent. Crucially, Global Entry users also receive TSA PreCheck. Global Entry status costs $100 and is good for five years before needing renewal.
What is TSA PreCheck?
A program that will make you the envy of your fellow travelers. The Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program allows travelers to move through airport security faster. PreCheck members get access to a special express security line and do not need to remove their shoes, jackets, laptops, liquids, belts, or electronics for screening. This program costs $85 and is also good for five years. Note that TSA occasionally randomly selects travelers to undergo the regular screening, despite PreCheck status.
How do these programs differ?
Global Entry deals with international arrivals to the United States—it’s a way to navigate Customs more easily. Users of Global Entry also are afforded TSA PreCheck status. TSA PreCheck allows travelers to get into the Departures area of the airport easier—cutting down wait times and the irritations often associated with going through Security. For frequent international travelers, Global Entry is the way to go. For mainly domestic travelers, TSA PreCheck may be all you need.
Sorting out who qualifies to use these two programs.
Who is eligible to participate in Global Entry?
All United States citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States are eligible. In addition, citizens of the following countries are eligible: Canada, (through NEXUS membership), Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Who is eligible to participate in TSA PreCheck?
Only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may apply for TSA PreCheck.
Using the Programs
Let’s take a look at how these programs actually work.
How do I apply for Global Entry?
You can apply by visiting the Global Entry application page on the CBP’s website. First, create an online account in the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). Then, complete the online application and submit it, along with your $100 fee. Each traveler must have their own account and submit a separate application and payment. Once your application is conditionally approved, you will be notified that you have 30 days to schedule an in-person interview, where you must bring your passport and a separate form of government-issued ID.
How long is the wait time?
Wait time depends on demand, but generally speaking, you should receive an email on your status within a week of submitting your application. Later, after your interview, your Global Entry card should be mailed to you in a few weeks.
How do I use Global Entry once I have it?
After landing back in the United States from an international destination, follow signs for the Global Entry kiosks. Here you will scan your passport, fill out an electronic version of the typical “blue sheet” Customs form, and have your photograph and fingerprints taken to ensure they match those taken at your interview. The kiosk then prints a receipt that you hand to the Customs agent as you leave.
How do I apply for TSA PreCheck?
Similarly to Global Entry, you can apply for TSA PreCheck online here. After submitting your application and $85 fee, you can schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center, where you will be subject to a background check and fingerprinting process similar to that of Global Entry.
How long is the wait time?
Wait time depends on demand, but TSA PreCheck does not take as long as Global Entry, because you don’t have to wait to be approved before scheduling an in-person interview. After your in-person interview, you will receive a Known Traveler Number within a few weeks.
How do I use TSA PreCheck once I have it?
Using TSA PreCheck actually begins when booking your flight. Enter your Known Traveler Number when prompted during the booking process, and you will be cleared for TSA PreCheck. Your boarding pass will display a code (“TSAPRE” or similar), and you can feel free to follow the marked lanes through airport security. Note that each separate traveler needs to go through this process and create a Known Traveler Number to take advantage of the program.
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck Renewal
How do I Renew Global Entry?
You can renew Global Entry from the comfort of your own home. Visit the Trusted Traveler Programs site, scroll down and click the blue “Manage My Membership” button, then follow the on-screen prompts. You will log in via the login.gov website, then follow the step-by-step process that mirrors the Global Entry application process. Fortunately, most of your information is already in the system, so you can simply check that it’s correct and adjust anything that has changed since you applied for Global Entry. Note: You cannot renew your Global Entry membership any earlier than one year before its expiration date.
For a detailed breakdown of the process, visit the CBP’s FAQ page and click “How do I renew my Global Entry membership?” or view the instructions below.
How do I Renew TSA PreCheck?
Renewing TSA PreCheck is easier – simply visit the TSA PreCheck Renewal site, provide your Known Traveler Number, date of birth, and last name, and follow the on-screen prompts. Note: You cannot renew your TSA PreCheck membership any earlier than six months before its expiration date.
We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz over the Mobile Passport application. Here’s the scoop.
What is Mobile Passport?
Mobile Passport is a free software application developed by the CBP that allows you to fill out and submit the blue Customs form on your smartphone or tablet. You can download the app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, and complete the form while still abroad (or in flight – it works in airplane mode). Once you land, click the “Submit Now” button in the app, and you’ll receive a QR code within the app. Find the Mobile Passport line before going through Customs (Hint: it may be hard to find because of how few people are in it), scan your code, and hand your passport to the Mobile Passport agent. After the usual few questions (trip purpose, etc.), you’ll be given an exit card to hand to the agent at the Customs exit. Repeat this process at Customs, and you’re all set.
A few notes. First, Mobile Passport is not a substitute for Customs like Global Entry, it simply grants you access to a dedicated line at Customs. If you have Global Entry, Mobile Passport may be unnecessary, but if the line for Global Entry kiosks is long, the Mobile Passport line may be a quicker alternative. Secondly, the app allows each traveler to make their own profile and complete their own form, so you only need one phone or tablet to complete the app if you’re traveling as a couple.
Differences between Mobile Passport and Global Entry?
First of all, Mobile Passport is only offered at 24 airports, although more are coming online all the time. Click here to see which airports participate in Mobile Passport. Secondly, Mobile Passport is free, compared to Global Entry’s $100 fee (though Global Entry also comes with TSA PreCheck included, an $85 value). Also, Global Entry participants can skip the pre-screening phase of Customs and go through without talking to an agent, while Mobile Passport users still need to go through Customs as usual, just using a mobile app rather than a paper form. Finally, Mobile Passport is only available to U.S. and Canadian citizens.