TSA PreCheck, Global Entry & Why You Should Get It

U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers five different risk-based programs under their Trusted Traveler Programs: TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. For the purpose of this blog post, I will only be writing about TSA PreCheck and Global Entry – I have both programs.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is for departures from U.S. airports for U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents. Benefits include but is not limited to, no longer needing to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets when going through airport security allowing for an expedited security screening. If you are traveling with a child under the age of 12, they may accompany a parent or guardian with TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass. It currently cost $85 to enroll and if approved, it lasts 5 years.

3 Steps

  1. Apply: Submit an online application, which should take no more than 5-7 minutes and schedule an appointment at any enrollment center.
  2. Enroll: Attend the in-person interview that you scheduled in step 1. At this interview you will provide finger prints, supply citizenship and identity documents.
  3. Enjoy: The perks of having TSA PreCheck once you are approved.

Global Entry

Global Entry (Trusted Traveler Network) is for travel by air, land, and sea for U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and select foreign nationals. Benefits include reduced wait times with self-service kiosks, no paperwork to be filled out by passengers upon entry, and TSA PreCheck. It currently cost $100 to enroll and if approved, it lasts 5 years.

3 Steps

  1. Apply: Submit application online.
  2. Enroll: Once you enroll and are conditionally approved, you can complete your in-person interview upon arrival to the United States from an international country (this process is called Enrollment on Arrival). If you are not traveling anytime soon, you can also schedule an appointment at an Enrollment Center.
  3. Membership: Once approved, enjoy the benefits for 5 years.

Why You Should Get It

I went with the Global Entry option because I know I travel outside of the United States at least three times a year and I am constantly traveling domestically by air almost every other month. Applying for Global Entry just made the most sense for me. I originally applied in January of 2020. However, I did not hear back from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until November 2020. Applications were really backed up. I assume because of the pandemic. I wasn’t able to schedule my appointment at an Enrollment Center until the end of January 2021. The day of the interview was smooth and easy. At my appointment the individual working there asked me a few questions and then snapped my photo. Then I was provided with my Known Traveler Number and bam! I was in and out in about 15 minutes.

The Known Traveler Number is the number you enter when purchasing flights. By entering this number, the airline will automatically flag you as a traveler with TSA PreCheck and it will be reflected on your boarding pass – mobile and printed.

Two words: Life Saver!

just right on time before the close the gates. More times than I would want, I am the latter. I don’t know if it’s the rush or cause I simply tend to leave things, such as packing, to the very last minute. Having TSA PreCheck has saved my life a number of times this past year. While the regular security line is super long, the TSA PreCheck line has been short – saving me time!

One TSA PreCheck benefit I appreciate so much is not having to take off my shoes, belt, light jackets and not having to take my laptop out of my bag. This makes the process go by super quickly. I will admit though, there was one time I was flying out the Washington Ronald Regan Airport and the TSA PreCheck line was longer than the regular line and I started to panic. I started off in the regular line and when the TSA Officer noticed that I was TSA PreCheck she allowed me to move forward to the conveyor belt as a TSA PreCheck traveler. I am not sure if that will always happen, but I do appreciate that she allowed it that one time.

I have had the opportunity to use Global Entry a few times this year – traveling back to the United States from Aruba, Turks & Caicos, Colombia, and Peru. Going through Global Entry also saves you a lot of time. Not a lot of people have Global Entry, which makes the line much shorter compared to the regular lines.

All in all, I highly recommend enrolling in either of these programs. The cost of each program, the benefits that come with each program and the duration of the program makes it completely worth it.

For more information on both programs, visit the Homeland Security website here.

If you have questions about either program or want to share your personal experience please comment below.

Top 5 Favorite Travel Apps

Let’s talk about travel apps! There’s so many apps out there, each serving its own unique purpose. There’s apps for specific airlines, flight deals, ground transportation, experiences, activities, and excursions. There’s apps for solo female travelers, downloadable maps, and so much more! 

Here I have compiled a list of my top 5 favorite travel apps that I use when planning a trip and while traveling:

1. Secret Flying:  

This travel app provides free alerts of flight deals, both cheap flights and error fares. The flight deals provided are from your departing home city and other main airports around the world. Secret Flying provides airfare prices for either one way tickets and/or roundtrip flights, as well as specific travel dates (usually month-to-month), and the airline(s). 

Once I see a flight deal provided by Secret Flying (one that speaks to my travel bucket list), I make my way over to google.com/flights to further search on the flight deal. Most of the flight deals I have purchased is BIG thanks to Secret Flying. 

2. Hopper:  

This is a flight and hotel app. To be honest, I only use this app for flights. I have not explored the hotel section of the app. You tell Hopper where you want to go and then it shows you a breakdown of the prices for one way flights and/or roundtrip flights.

The prices are color coordinated –
Green: being the most inexpensive option
Yellow: being inexpensive, but still more money than the cheapest option
Orange: being expensive
Red: being the most expensive option

Once you have reached the point where you are seeing all of the different price options for your specific location you can either decide to purchase the flight as is or select “watch this trip”. Hopper predicts whether or not the prices are likely to decrease or increase for your exact travel dates. 

3. Airbnb:  

This is an accommodation and experiences app. I absolutely love, love, love this app! To be honest, I prefer to stay in a cute, modern, centralized Airbnb accommodation rather than a hotel. Although, some Airbnb accommodation options are in hotels so that’s a plus for travelers who prefer hotels. This app allows travelers to find just the right Airbnb in almost every single destination across the world. When searching for Airbnbs in a specific location this app allows travelers to save their searches. Travelers can create a number of different saved lists for different locations. 
What is also great about this app is the different experience options provided for all types of travelers including solo, couples, and groups. Travelers can purchase experiences ranging from tour guides, city walks, bar crawls, salsa lessons, animal encounters, and more! 
Even if you decide not to use this travel app to find your accommodation, I would definitely recommend using it for excursions and overall things to do. If you currently do not have an Airbnb account, use this referral link to save up to $55 on your first stay.

4. Maps.Me: 

This is a geographic travel app. Maps.Me will literally provide you with a map of anywhere in the world.

Before I depart to start my travel adventures I always search the map of the city I will be staying in and I download it. Downloading the map before arriving to my international destination allows me to access the map without being connected to WiFi/internet. This is useful because it is not guaranteed that I will have access, depending on where I am.

​Sometimes I opt in to having the daily $10 international charge, but not always because it can become pricey especially if you are traveling for a long period of time. Maps.Me assists me in getting from point A to point B without getting lost.

5. Mobile Pass: 

This is the Mobile Passport app. It allows U.S. citizen and Canadian passport holders to proceed through an expedited entry to submit  their passport and declaration information to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent.
​Thanks to this app you can put away the pen and paper because you can complete all the necessary information/paperwork online. All in the comfort of your mobile device.  I love apps that makes the actual act of traveling from one country to another just a little bit more smooth, especially when you are returning to your home country.

Again, the apps mentioned above are only the top 5 travel apps I personally use frequently. I know there are so many more great apps out there. Travel apps such as Skyscanner, Red Zone, Tourlina, Booking.com, Hostel World (the list goes on) were not included on this list but are still great and super useful.  


Reasons Why You Should Spend a Weekend in DC

I have been living in DC for a year and a half now, and I can honestly say that I love living here – it’s my second home. I moved here for work right after graduate school because it was a great opportunity, and I knew I wanted something different. DC is a diverse metropolitan area filled with life. I am a young, Afro-Latinx, who is a proud city girl, so I knew this was the place to be! One of my favorite things about DC is that there is always something to do, places to see, restaurants to experience, and the ability to brunch every weekend! I didn’t know brunch was a thing until I moved to DC, and honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I freaking love brunch! 

I live in the Georgetown neighborhood, which is on the Northwest side of DC (close to the Virginia state border). Although I’m not in the center of it all, I am happy to be close to some of my favorite parts of DC with access to the metro system, which is super easy to use once you get the hang of it!

I think of DC as the place where anyone can go no matter their interest because they will always find something to do. DC is home to a number of different food festivals, music festivals and more. You can catch a baseball game – huge shoutout to the Nationals for winning this year’s World Series! You can check out many DC theaters and enjoy a current film. If you like playing boardgames there are a number of restaurants, and chill spots where you can hang alone or with friends and they have board games you can borrow. I promise you whatever your interests are there is a place here for you to simply enjoy yourself over a weekend or longer! 

In this blog post, you’ll see a some information about LGBT friendly areas, things to do, restaurants for Sunday brunch, happy hour and other occasions, day parties, nightlife, and more! This is only some things out of many things you can do here! Eventbrite is also your best friend when trying to find things to do in DC at any moment. Everyday there are a number of events and things to do! Be open to explore and don’t be afraid to get lost in the streets of DC. You’ll end up somewhere you didn’t know you would enjoy!

LGBT Friendly

Washington DC is one of the most welcoming, LGBT friendly area in the nation. There is a variety of LGBT friendly restaurants, bars, lounges, and neighborhoods that you can explore:

Nellie’s Sports Bar – DC’s first gay sports bar! For more information visit their website here.

Explore Dupont Circle – LGBT friendly neighborhood in DC filled with restaurants, bars, lounges, and mini shops! You can also experience a number of outdoor activities during warm weather. 

Red Bear Brewing Co. – DC’s 100% gay-owned brewery. Stop by if you are interested in tasting a variety of IPA’s and/or other brews. For more information visit their website here

Embassy Row Hotel Rooftop – located in Dupont Circle, this hotel is part of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, and it is considered to have one of the best rooftop pool in America. For more information visit their website here

DC Pride Parade – this parade usually takes place the first weekend of June. However, it is super fun and it attracts many people from all over the country. ​

Other Gay Bars:

  • JR’s Bar & Grill
  • Duplex Diner
  • The Dirty Goose
  • Larry’s Lounge
  • ​Number Nine
  • Pitchers & A League of Her Own
  • Orchid 
  • The Fireplace
  • Trade
  • Green Lantern
  • The DC Eagle

​Note: Many of the places mentioned above are regularly visited by white people. I have not been able to find many bars that are LGBT friendly and many visited by people of color.

Things to Do

Go check out:

  • White House
  • United States Capitol 
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • Washington Monument
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Reflecting Pool
  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Smithsonian Fun – free entrance:

  • ​National Museum of American American History & Culture
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Art
  • Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Gallery of Art
  • ​Air and Space Museum 
  • National Zoo
  • ​American Indian Museum 
  • ​Postal Museum

Other Things to Check Out:

  • Artechouse
  • Union Market 
  • CityCenter DC
  • Street Art 
  • GLOW DC (Dec.-Jan.)
  • United States Botanic Garden
Brunch/Happy Hour/Restaurants!


  • Madhatter (American)
  • HalfSmoke (American)
  • Boqueria (Tapas)
  • Southern Hospitality 
  • Nick’s Riverside Grill 
  • Founding Farmers DC

Happy Hour 

  • El Centro (Mexican)
  • Barcelona Wine Bar (Tapas)
  • Mission (American)
  • HalfSmoke (American)
  • Chicken & Whiskey
  • El Rey (Mexican)
  • Church Hall (American)

Other Restaurants 

  • Los Hermanos (Dominican)
  • Farmer’s Fishers Bakers
  • Guapos (Mexican)
  • Sushi Para
  • Mai Thai (Thai)
  • Smoke & Barrel (American)
  • Busboys and Poets 
  • Cedar Restaurant

These are places that I have personally gone to eat either during a Sunday Brunch, Happy Hour, and/or just to eat on a regular occasion.

Day Parties & Nightlife

Weekend Day Parties & Nightlife: Bars, Lounges and Clubs

  • Lost Society
  • Ozio Martini & Cigar Lounge
  • Marvin’s
  • Diet Starts Monday
  • Rosebar Lounge
  • Saint Yves
  • Gryphon
  • Abigail
  • Bravo Bravo 
  • Cafe Citron
  • Big Chief
  • Pure Lounge

Hookah Available 

  • Lost Society
  • Ozio Martini & Cigar Lounge
  • Chi-Cha Lounge
  • Rosebar Lounge
  • Saint Yves 
  • Pure Lounge