Young man at airport waiting lounge using digital tablet

Source: izusek / Getty

It finally happened. You found the perfect deal to that great destination you’ve seen all over Instagram—and you took the leap and booked the flight. Your summer is about to be lit. But there’s more to this travel game than simply dropping your card for reservations and plotting formation photos. Before you fly high (cue Jim Jones), make sure you take care of the following essentials, so you can jet set worry free.


1. Get Global Entry

Picture it. You’re back to the States, fresh off your getaway high and feeling like Diddy…

until you round that corner for Customs and Immigration and see this.

Now you look like a MJ meme because you’ve realized that unlike Diddy, you’re going to have to stand in line for God knows how long. Why? Because you don’t have Global Entry.

Global Entry is the Lambo of travel privileges when it comes to avoiding long immigration lines because it allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. via automatic kiosks. The program is good for five years and also includes TSA pre-check, which allows for shoes-on clearance through TSA on domestic flights.

So how do you get this magic pass?

Head to the Dept. of Homeland Security’s website, fill out the application and pay the $100 registration fee. (Pro-tip: If you have a Gold or Platinum American Express card, you can receive a statement credit for the fee). In about a week or two, you should receive a letter approving you for an airport interview. Immediately after the interview, you’ll know if you’ve been approved. If you’re denied, you can also sign up for Mobile Passport which works similarly to Global Entry and is free to use. However, it doesn’t include TSA pre-check and isn’t available nationwide.

2.Protect Ya Neck

It happens to the best of us. You’re out and about on vacation eating all the food your stomach can handle, and then that fuzzy thing you decided to eating while feeling adventurous fights back like Chris in Get Out.

Now you’re walking around like a zombie on The Walking Dead in desperate need of a doctor. But you didn’t budget for a hospital visit and can’t afford the meds needed to get your belly right.

This is on the low end of mishaps that can occur on vacation, but medical emergencies are real. Sure your credit card may cover lost baggage or reimburse for flight delays, but chances are you don’t want to put the hospital bill from a stint in a foreign hospital after an ATV accident on your VISA. And GoFundMe is not an insurance plan. Make sure you’re covered by taking five minutes to sign up for insurance on sites like Seven Corners, Travel Guard and World Nomads. These plans range from individual vacations to annual coverage and cover everything from baggage to bodies all for the low, low cost of the average cable bill.

3.Get Money

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a newbie, everyone is worried about money when they travel.

The first thing you should sign up for when you start traveling is a no fee card. Most credit and debit cards charge international transaction fees when you use them abroad, so you want to hit up companies such as Charles Schwab that offer no fee cards (Pro tip: Transfer money to your Charles Schwab card at least a week before you leave as transfers can take a while). As for credit cards, Chase wins hands down with its Sapphire and Reserve cards. Not only are there no fees, but you can rack up points on everyday purchases, which you can then use to book flights and hotels. Gotta love free money!

 4. Loyalty Over Everything

Even though most airlines and hotels these days are about as loyal to customers as Fredo was to Michael in The Godfather, being a loyal customer still has some perks.

Signing up for hotel and airline reward points are a great way to upgrade your travel life. Lounge access, free stays, seat upgrades, extra baggage, and free airport transfers are just some of the perks you can get when you sign up. Loyalty programs often combine to offer flexibility on how you gain and use reward points. For example, if you fly Delta often, you can transfer the points to your Starwood loyalty program and use those points to accumulate free stays. Use Uber abroad? If you take an Uber from a Starwood hotel, you gain points there, too. Want to get even more out of the points hustle? Check out The Points Guy.

Fly on!