spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Europalooza Trip Report Part 16: back to our rock in the middle of the ocean

After a long-planned and fun trip around North Carolina, England, France, Spain, and NYC, it was time to come home.  We’d been away for nearly 3 weeks, and being in our place sounded pretty good.  Obviously, I love traveling.  But there’s nothing like your own bed, a full kitchen, and 2 bathrooms.  WAIT- I’m getting ahead of myself!  All these luxuries were still over 14 hours away from our wake-up time this morning…   Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 3: in which my optimistic nature is tested in 2 different countries

Part 2 left off with me and my family heading to Raleigh Airport (RDU) on Christmas Day to catch our nonstop flight to London on American Airlines (AA).  BTW, I updated that post.  Can’t believe I forgot to mention The Nutcracker and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!  Go read it, I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’re back…the European adventure was about to begin!  First, though, we had to drop off the rental car.  This is where some of my troubles began… Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 1: Escape from Hawaii

You may have noticed that I changed the name of this trip for purposes of simplicity.  Easier to type Europalooza than Spain and France in 2018 or So Help Me, which is a name I still love because of the Monsters, Inc. reference.   Anyway, Europalooza it is, for the duration of this Trip Report.

Departure day dawned…sunny? cloudy? rainy?…actually I didn’t pay attention to the weather at all, haha.  It just dawned, and it meant that I was up early due to have a pesky all-day work training to attend.  The packing lists had been printed and posted a few days prior, with almost all of the packing already done.  Just a few housechores left to do: Read the rest of this entry »

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Global Entry for families- a Trusted Traveler Program

I wrote about the different Trusted Traveler Programs offered by the US Department of Homeland Security before, when discussing my Adventures in Passport Control.  A small correction to the end of that blog post: Global Entry (GE) privileges no longer extend to children traveling with the GE parent- everyone needs their own.  GE Membership still includes TSA PreCheck, which is helpful for the airport security line.  So you have an advantage at takeoff with a smoother security process, and at landing with a smoother Passport Control process.  Nice!

I felt it would be helpful for me especially, given my previous encounters at Customs & Border Protection (CBP), to have had a thorough background check and obtain a “Known Traveler Number,” another term for the GE PASSID #.  For us, that meant that we would need to spend $400 for the privilege of faster passage through immigration/passport control, since we would all need to apply and be approved for the Program individually.  Or did we???

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Adventures in Passport Control

First, a long-winded story.

In Ecuador and many other Latin nations, you officially use both your father’s last name and your mother’s last name until you get married.  So let’s say I am born to Juan Valdez and Chita Rivera, and they name me Maria, with a middle name of Luz.  My non-US passport would say Maria Luz Valdez Rivera.  Both Valdez and Rivera are officially my last names. Read the rest of this entry »

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