Tag Archives: california

TSA Pre-Check: A Review | BEDA Day 6

I may pretend to be a travel expert on the internet, but in reality I don’t fly all that often. I don’t travel for work and I can only scrape together so many vacation days (and so much cash), so I only average about 6-8 flights per year. Despite this, in a hopeful attempt to manifest some more travel into my life, I decided to register for TSA PreCheck ahead of my trip to Hawaii and California last December. I had watched my family and friends abandon me in the airport security line for their shorter, more streamlined TSA PreCheck screening one too many times. It was my turn to be one of the traveling elite. Registering for PreCheck was..a bit of a process, but one I believe was worth it. Here’s how it all went down.

Registration

The application process for TSA PreCheck comes in two parts: an online application and an in-person interview. The online application mostly consists of personal information and I found it pretty easy to navigate. Once that was complete, I was asked to schedule an appointment at a local ID center. Of course, the center closest to me was booked for a good month, so I went with the next best option: Brooklyn.

I’ll be honest, the ID center in Brooklyn was so nondescript, I was sure the security guy in the lobby had misdirected me. I actually went downstairs again to make sure I was going to the right place. I eventually found some signage and didn’t have to wait too long to be seen. The woman conducting my interview wasn’t particularly cheery, but after several trips to the DMV I wasn’t expecting much. She basically asked me the same questions from the online application (you can actually do both in the office), scanned my license, and took my fingerprints. I was also recovering from getting stitches in my thumb, so this took a few tries. Overall, the process was shorter than my actual trip to Brooklyn and I was approved a few days later.

Flying With PreCheck

I’ll be honest, I was pretty pumped to see the words “TSA PreCheck” on my boarding pass when we checked in for our flight to Kauai. The line at security wasn’t that much longer than the standard one, but it did move a bit faster since we didn’t have to take off our shoes, belts, pants, etc. Of course, I got “randomly selected” for a pat-down my first time out the gate. There wasn’t much I could do there, I guess. At least I still didn’t have to take off my shoes.

PreCheck was extra helpful on our flight from Kauai to Honolulu, as the tiny Lihue airport was packed with post-Christmas travelers. As a major American airline, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Hawaiian Airlines opting in to the PreCheck program. We were able to get through security with a little extra time to grab some last-minute Kauai gifts.

Overall, I’d say that TSA PreCheck is worth the $85 fee. I’m set for the next 5 years, and I plan to get as much travel in as possible in that period of time. Though the program isn’t available everywhere, it does make the whole security process much easier, and the flying experience generally more pleasant.

You can find out more about the TSA PreCheck program here.

The Road to Monterey

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I may have traveled a lot over the past four years but my “vacations” have been few and far between. You know, vacations? Those trips where you have no responsibilities and the primary goal is relaxation? Ringing any bells? Probably not.

Prior to last September, my folks and I hadn’t taken a proper family vacation since 2011. We traveled a lot over those two years, but those trips were always riddled with work meetings and looming schoolwork deadlines, and they were always far too short. When I decided to go out to LA for the summer, my parents decided it was time for another Dow family road trip. I had three weeks between the end of my program and the start of my senior year, so we took one of those weeks to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco.

One of my favorite stretches of the journey was our drive between Ojai to Monterey. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and to check out the city. We were only there for two hours, but it was just enough time for me to fall in love with the town. I also may have made some seagull friends.

After that, it was on to Big Sur. Aquatic mammals are kind of my thing, so I just about died when we pulled over to see a bunch of elephant seals just chilling on the beach. I broke out the macro lens and caught a few of these guys in action. We hit Big Sur just as the sun was setting so unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a lot of time in the forrest. It did make for some excellent photos, though.

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Los Angeles | Rose Bowl Flea Market

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I have yet to meet an Angeleno who isn’t totally obsessed with the Rose Bowl Flea Market. One Sunday a month, people from all over Southern California descend on the parking lot of the historic stadium to shop for antiques, furniture, vintage clothes, handmade soaps, and more for a few hours in the sweltering Pasadena sun. The sheer volume of items available is totally overwhelming and I barely scratched the surface during this trip in August. Next time I have to bring a flea market pro with me. I’ve met some people who’ve furnished most of their homes with stuff from this particular flea market. I want to hang out with them.

Since I couldn’t exactly ship an entire couch back to Philly, I settled for some smaller items this first time around. I walked away with a maxi skirt that was missing a button and a pink flask engraved with a tennis racket. You can take the girl out of the Main Line, but you can’t take the Main Line out of the girl.

If (or when) I move to LA, I will probably go back for that couch. And a headboard. And a samurai sword. Basically I will buy all the things. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is just that awesome.

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I have a feeling I’ll be doing a few of these LA photo dumps in the near future seeing as I have a ton of photos and adventures to share with you all. A few weeks ago I went to the Getty Museum, one of the largest collections of art in the city. They have pieces from every area of the world and period in history, so you’ll probably see something you like. I was particularly excited to see Van Gogh’s Irises, pictured above. The campus itself is stunning and admission is free, so even if you don’t like art it’s a fun trip. We hung out for a bit in the gardens before we realized that the sun was ridiculous. The Getty sits up in the hills so it has some amazing views of the entire city. If it wasn’t so smoggy we could probably have seen the ocean. Or at least downtown. I would totally go back to the Getty whenever I’m back in LA. I think we missed a few rooms on our first go-around and I obviously need to see EVERYTHING.