Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Global Entry: What You Need to Know

In the spring, the Señor and I decided to apply for Global Entry and skip the long TSA lines in airport departures and at passport control upon arrival back in the United States.  

Here's how it went.

What is Global Entry?
The Global Entry program, according to the United States Customs and Border Protection website is described as:

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.
Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

Who can apply?

Global Entry is available* for U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and citizens of Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea and Mexico.

There is no minimum age to apply, but children under age 18 must have parental consent to be in the program. Parents, themselves, are not required to be in the program, but like passports, everyone needs his or her own account.

*There may be additional requirements, depending on your country of citizenship. Certain restrictions resulting in ineligibility may apply. 

How much does it cost?

All participants, regardless of age, pay a one-time $100 non-refundable application fee by credit card or bank transfer. The $100 Global Entry includes TSA Pre-Check (an $85 fee on its own without Global Entry) 

Once accepted, Global Entry is valid for five years. 

The Application Process

First, applicants must register with GOES...the Global Online Enrollment System. Regardless of age, each applicant must have his or her own account. It is here that you pay your application fee and answer a number of questions including:
  • personal information (name, gender, eye color, height, language preferences) and address history
  • date and location of birth
  • contact information
  • citizenship information (including passport number, issue date and expiration date)
  • driver's license number and expiration date
  • current employment status and history for five years
  • travel history for five years
  • criminal history

After your application is submitted, it is reviewed by CBP. If you are conditionally approved, you will receive an email stating that there has been a change in your status and that there is a message in your GOES account. 

From here, you can schedule your interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center

The Interview Process

Each applicant must schedule his or her own individual interview. Bring your passport and another photo ID, preferably your driver's license. If you are a permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card. 

The time between conditional approval and my scheduled interview took months. The interview, itself, took about ten minutes. You may be able to continue logging in to change your appointment time, but I had no luck. You can also use this option to reschedule, should you have a scheduling conflict. 

The Global Entry Enrollment Center in Boston is located at Logan International Airport, in Terminal E, Arrivals. There is a Dunkin' Donuts next to the office to make your wait time a bit more enjoyable. There is a wall lined with chairs and appointments (scheduled in 15 minute intervals). The interviews move quickly, taking in two people at a time, according to your appointment time. 

When I arrived in the office, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer took my passport and driver's license and compared it to the information I provided in my application. He was pleasant and conversational in tone and asked me a number of questions, similar to what had been asked on my application. 

Then he took my picture and my fingerprints and told me I would receive an email in about 24 hours from GOES, similar to my email with conditional approval, stating that I had been approved for Global Entry. 

He indicated that the number in my conditional approval letter was my Known Traveler Number which could be used immediately for TSA Pre-Check, and that I would receive my Global Entry card in about ten days to two weeks. 

The email had arrived before we left the airport, and my card arrived in nine days.

Is Global Entry worth it?

Yes. If you travel domestically, the TSA Pre-Check benefit ($85 on its own) makes it worth it. For $15 more, you have the international passport control benefit. And, the Global Entry benefits are included in NEXUS and SENTRI, two other Trusted Traveler programs. 

You're paying for the convenience of time, but for an average of $20 a year, I'll take it. And, if you hold certain premium travel reward-based credit cards, your fee may be reimbursed. 

For us, it's money well spent. There are Global Entry kiosks at these airports. 

Do you have Global Entry? In your opinion, is it worth the money?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Celebrating Freedom: Day 10...An Overview and an Announcement

The last ten days of Natalie Sisson's Freedom Plan Blog Challenge were enlightening. 

I always knew my ultimate goal, but some of the details were a bit fuzzy. 

This challenge helped me clarify some of the unknown. 

Here are links to the topics I explored over the last ten days and how I responded to each prompt. 

Day 1: Finding Your Focus

Day 2: Discovering Your Why

Day 3: Creating a Vision: The Ideal Day

Day 4: Defining Your Superpowers

Day 5: The Power of Routine 

Day 6: Finding Your Tribe

Day 7: Imperfect Action

Day 8: Choosing Adventure

Day 9: Location Independence 

And now, day ten. 

Day 10: Meaningful 

Here's what I know for sure. 

Surround yourself with people who get it. 
People who don't chase their own goals have less capacity to fully support you in your quest. When things get tough, or when you start prioritizing the steps you need to take, those in your inner circle may not understand why you have to say no or why you need to do x, y, or z. 

Find your tribe. 
Find them in person, and if that's not possible, seek them out books and virtually...through podcasts and Facebook groups. And love those around you who may not understand, but can cheer you on the way that they can. 

See it and make it happen. 
And, the more you can visualize where you want to be, the better chance you have of achieving it. 

I'm living proof. 

I'm a vision board maker...the old school kind. I save my magazines, buy poster board and a glue stick, and every year...more or less, I assess and revisit goals. 

In January, I was part of a 10 day goal setting challenge, offered through a Facebook group by a coaching friend of mine, based on Chalene Johnson's 30-Day Push Goal Challenge. I struggled with the formatting and it wasn't coming together. 

I went back again. I reworked my push goal (and the steps it would take to achieve it) until it made sense to me. And then it did.

Ask and you shall receive. 

On Friday, September 30, 2016, I will leave the traditional brick and mortar school, which I love, to become a full time virtual teacher to foreign students who are earning a United States high school diploma. This is no reflection on my current position; I love my school and the littles who have climbed into my heart. 

This is an opportunity of a lifetime; one I cannot pass by. 

My push goal has been achieved. Officially, I am location independent. 

My virtual teaching job allows me the flexibility to work anywhere in the world with a wifi signal...freedom, indeed. 

I am beyond blessed.

And now, thanks to some of the work I did in this Freedom Plan 10 Day Blog Challenge, I'm ready to see how my Freedom Plan comes to life. 

It's an exciting time, indeed. 

Do you want to create a Freedom Plan of your own? 

Consider doing the 10 Day Challenge and see for yourself what your life could look like? 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Location Independence...Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 9

Imagine being able to work from anywhere in the world. 

For some, it means working from home, free of the commute and hours of the traditional workplace. 

For others, it means following their ideal weather, living a nomadic life or one of slow travel, where you experience life as a local for weeks or months at a time. 

Assuming that you still have to work and fund this location independent lifestyle, how would you create a work-life balance?

This is the focus of day nine of Natalie Sisson's Freedom Plan Blog Challenge... identifying what location independence means to you. 

To me, location independence means having the ability to work anywhere in the world, be it in a job with employability anywhere in the world or as a digital nomad, working anywhere with a reliable wifi signal.

As a teacher in a traditional brick and mortar school, this is a challenge, but not impossible.

For me, location independence means the freedom to travel at will, within our financial means. It means having multiple income streams, one of which comes from an employer that is not me. Freelancing is a lovely idea, but relying on my own entrepreneurship for our livelihood is not something that interests me in a full time capacity. 

My work-life balance is detailed in the work I did to describe my ideal day on Day 2 of this challenge. My ideal day is built on location independence; it's my ultimate goal. 

How would you define location independence in your own life? Is this something that is important to you or are you happy with a more traditional work environment?

If you want to design life on your own terms and need guidance developing your own personal freedom plan, it's not too late to participate in this free Freedom Plan Blog Challenge. Sign up here

Fall Seasonal Goals

Life According to Steph

I'm a long time reader of Life According to Steph, and I'm excited to participate in her seasonal goals linkup. Finally! It's about time. 

Here are my seasonal goals for the Fall. 
  1. Book travel and accommodations for the Women in Travel Summit (WITS'17). 
  2. Plan and go on our annual fall weekend in New York. 
  3. Find a new chunky sweater to wear with jeans and tall boots. 
  4. Attend one seasonal festival.
  5. Yoga at least three times per week. 
  6. Participate in a fall 5 or 10k. 
  7. Attend a theatrical event. 
  8. Reorganize clothes...donate what summer clothes I didn't wear all season and purge what doesn't fit right and what I don't LOVE. 
  9. Read a new personal development book. 
  10. Try six new recipes: two vegetarian, two crockpot, one fish/seafood, and one baked dessert or casserole recipe.  

Are you a goal getter? Please share what's on your list of goals to accomplish this season. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Choosing Adventure......Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 8

Day 8 of Natalie Sisson's Freedom Plan 10-Day Blog Challenge revolves around adventure. 

While some who are participating in this challenge may have spent the day seeking adventure in their own backyard, I chose to spend this day exactly as I wanted. 

And that felt like freedom too. 

Every day need not be filled with adventure of epic proportion in order to feel free. 

Life on your own terms is freedom. 

Today, after catching up on some mileage-related car service, I opted for a quiet afternoon at home...just me, my dog, and Pablo Escobar. 

When the Señor came home from teaching his class, we opted for an at-home date night, with pizza, wine, and movies. 

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we'll enjoy our Sunday coffee date...and some extra cuddling, I'm sure. 

Globetrotting adventure, it was not, but it was life by design. And it was wonderful. 

Did adventure find you this weekend? Do you plan your weekends with intent or do you see where the time takes you?

It's not too can still join Natalie's free Freedom Plan Blog Challenge. 

Sign up here and begin your own freedom plan as you see fit. 

And if you do, please come back and share a link. I would love to see what you wrote. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Imperfect Action......Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 7

We've all been there...that feeling of overwhelm with too many ideas or to-do items on a list that grows longer by the minute. 

We don't know where to start, so we put it off and before long, we forget about it, relegating it to the realm of impossible or something that wouldn't have worked anyway. 

Natalie Sisson, of the Suitcase Entrepreneur, says that procrastination can be the result of a fear of failure...or a fear of success, if you can believe it. 

Perfection becomes the enemy of progress; it leads to procrastination, and in some cases, inaction. 

Today's work focuses on strategies for moving beyond that panicked state of inaction. These strategies revolve around small, daily actions you can take to move closer to your own freedom plan or big, scary goal, whatever it may be. 

Imperfect action is better than no action. 

For me, one imperfect action I can take is committing to write every day. It need not be published, but it needs to be written. 

I can commit to my 15,000 steps every day.

I can commit to my personal development every day. 

Finishing does not mean it's perfect. Finished means I kept a commitment to myself. 

I'm worth it, and so are you. 

What about you? What imperfect action can you take today?

Have you joined Natalie's free Freedom Plan Blog Challenge yetSign up here 

Finding Your Tribe...Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 6

When you have a big scary goal, you want the people around you to be supportive, but at times, those closest to you don't understand your journey because it differs from their own. It's not that they want to be unsupportive, but fear of the unknown can overpower a try and see more adventurous mindset. 

And even if those closest to you are supportive of your hopes and dreams, you still may need or want those who, already, have walked your path to shepherd you on your own journey. 

This is the power of your tribe, and this is the focus of Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson's, Freedom Plan's Day 6

Your tribe can consist of mentors, like the elders of your tribe or warriors who have forged the way for others to follow. 

Your tribe can consist of like minded folks who are going after their own hopes and dreams. Maybe you share a common vision or a common mindset. 

And you can have cheerleaders in your tribe, who may not fully understand your journey, but cheer you on, reminding you of why you started when things get tough. 

So, how do you build your tribe? 

Look around you? Who are your helpers? Your cheerleaders? Who are the leaders in your field? Who has done what you want to do and done it well? Who is forging their own way and documenting their victories and their challenges?

In today's focus, Natalie challenges us to identify our mentors and why their work is significant to us and what questions we would ask, if given the chance. 

One person I would love to have as a mentor is Beth Santos, from WanderfulBeth is a entrepreneur who created a community for women interested travel and global understanding. Beth found the sweet spot that we talked about in day four of this ten day challenge...freedom at the intersection of skills and passion. The community has grown to include regional events and an annual national conference, the Women in Travel Summit

Another person I would love to have as a mentor is Mara Koefed, from A Blog about Love. Mara's and her husband, Danny's blog was one of the first blogs I ever started reading regularly. For many reasons that have nothing to do with business, I was drawn to their style, their mission, and their story. I would love to sit with a cup of tea and chat about so many things, business and otherwise. 

How about you? 

Who are the mentors you would love to add to your tribe? Why are they inspiring to you? What questions would you ask them, if you had the chance?

Share in the comments, and better yet, join Natalie's free Freedom Plan Blog ChallengeSign up here 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Power of Routine...Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 5

Anyone who knows me knows that I love personal development. 

Last year, I read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine. 

The cornerstone of The Compound Effect lies in the belief that it is the choices you make every day over time that yield the greatest results, for better or for worse. 

For example, a daily commitment to nutrition and fitness can yield great wellness results over time, but inconsistent nutrition and fitness over time can result in disaster...poor health and overall malaise. 

Frugal spending over time can result in big savings, but absent-mined spending over time can result in big debt. 

It all adds up...for better or for worse. 

The focus of today's work is in creating habits that build a foundation for success. If creating a freedom plan is a priority, it will take time and consistency.

In Day 5 of the Freedom Plan Blog Challenge, Natalie Sisson challenges us to create a daily success plan for work that moves us closer to achieving our goals. 

For increased productivity, Natalie suggests using a time box method, like the Pomodoro Technique, in which work intervals are organized into 25 minute increments, using a timer, like the famous Pomodoro tomato timer. 

When the 25 minutes are complete, you take a break. Then, you do another 25 minute session. The idea is that your productivity increases with shorter deadlines and shorter, more intense work sessions. With a shorter work session, there are fewer distractions and a better chance of accomplishing the task.   

When it comes to work and productivity, I thrive on routine; it takes the guess work out of the mundane and I have more creative energy to dedicate to my work. 

My three Most Important Actions (MIAs) of every work day are

1. 30 minutes of personal development 
2. Three hours of "office hours" dedicated to communication and paperwork 
3. One hour of writing time

After my work is complete, the rest of my ideal day, which I described on Day 3 of the challenge, is mine.

How about you? 

In your ideal day, what would your success plan look like? 

How would you break up your most important daily actions? 

Have you used a time box method, like the Pomodoro Technique?

Share in the comments, and better yet, join Natalie's free Freedom Plan Blog ChallengeSign up here

Defining Your Superpowers...Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 4

They say that the sweet spot of personal success can be found in the intersection of your skills and your passion. It's here that you unlock your own personal super powers. 

Unleashing your super powers for financial gain makes sense, but it can take some excavation.

The focus of today's work is self assessment...what are your skills and what do you love doing? It is here that you can define your super powers.

Now is not the time to be humble says, Natalie Sisson, of The Suitcase Entrepreneur. If you're not sure, ask those who know you. Often others see what we, ourselves, cannot see, and if it comes easily, you mistakenly may not consider it a true talent. 

For me, my skills involve: 

  • teaching and working with kids
  • building and maintaining relationships
  • planning and organizing
  • brainstorming and idea creation
  • adaptability and spontaneity 
  • financial frugality
  • writing for a purpose
  • public speaking 
  • motivating others

I enjoy  

  • traveling
  • cooking and all things food
  • taking pictures
  • talking with people
  • reading and writing
  • outside activity
  • inspiring others
  • setting and achieving goals
  • coaching
I'm sure that there is some opportunity for a business somewhere at the junction of skill and pleasure, but for now, I'm unsure as to where that lies, and consequently, I'm still not sure as to how I would define my own super power. 

This will take more work. 

How about you? 

Have you discovered your super powers? 

Share in the comments, and better yet, join Natalie's free Freedom Plan Blog ChallengeSign up here

Monday, September 12, 2016

Creating the Vision...Freedom Plan Blog Challenge...Day 3

Many of us have ideas of what our perfect life looks like, peppered with big dreams and what ifs. 

In Day 3 of the Freedom Plan Blog Challenge, the Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson, charges us with the task of creating a vision of our perfect day. 

This takes some thought, because the challenge restricts us from using generalizations and requires that we visualize this perfect day in the present tense. 

The more specific the vision, coupled with a sincere belief in our ability to achieve it,  the better chance we have of it becoming a reality.  This eliminates improbable goals, encouraging more realistic, measurable SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Boxed).  

Here is my vision of an ideal day in my location independent life. 

A day at home...
  • I am awake by 7:00 a.m.. I make mental notes of my goals for the day and set my intention. 
  • Morning...Señor, coffee, Gracie, local news, breakfast. 
  • Gym and/or yoga. 
  • Focused work and task/daily goal completion. 
  • Lunch, followed by a short siesta/quiet I becoming culturally Spanish?
  • Walk outside, errands, exploration, play with Gracie
  • Afternoon coffee date with the Señor
  • Dinner 
  • Netflix or TV, Gracie time
  • Bed
A day on the road...
  • My day is similar, except that the Señor and I are exploring. My focused work time depends on the time zone.  
It's a work in progress. It's hard to visualize what you've never had, but if you don't know what it looks like, how do you know when you have achieved it? 

The reality is, your needs and preferences may change over time; however, I believe in the power of really does work. I may not know what my ideal day looks like down to the minute, but I have an idea of what it looks like as a big picture. 

It's a start. 

Do you want to design life on your own terms and need guidance developing your own personal freedom plan. It's not too late to participate in this free Freedom Plan Blog ChallengeSign up here