Global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henly & Partners released its quarterly report the Henley Passport Index on the world’s most powerful passports. What defines a powerful passport? One that offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival global access to the most countries giving their citizens travel freedom and all the advantages of that access.
These are the top ten countries that were awarded the title for 2020:
1. Japan with access to 191 destinations out of a possible 227 destinations
2. Singapore (score of 190)
3. South Korea
Germany tied for third place (score of 189)
Italy tied for 4th place (score of 188)
Denmark tied for 5th place (score of 187)
France tied at 6th place (score of 186)
The United States and the United Kingdom actually fell in the rankings, (partly blamed on both countries’ ongoing political challenges), when both held the number one spot in 2015.
When globetrotting, whether stateside or abroad, having the means to enjoy exclusive traveling services and impeccable experiences allows our dear readers to self-plan or hire a personal/executive concierge to design a seamless, memorable vacation.
As the 2020 traveling season heats up, awareness of upcoming policies, trends and tools to ensure your next wanderlust venture is error free and harmonious.
Flying private or first-class does allow passengers certain benefits including waiting in plush airport lounges, skipping the normal TSA lines, yet still required to check in with immigration and customs where passport and visa documents will be examined.
One tremendous advantage is disembarking through a private terminal building or landing at a smaller executive airport for facilitation with a separate check-in gate staff. Many international airports provide expedited immigration services to qualified guests who get clearance through a pre-approved program such as the U.S.’s Global Entry, Canada’s Nexus Program or Registered Traveller in the United Kingdom
INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMITS
Inspired to see the countryside on your own, without a hired car? It would make sense to apply for an international driving permit. In the U.S., the two organizations which work through the Department of State in issuing IDPs are the American Automobile Touring Alliance and the American Auto Association. You are required to have a valid U.S. driver’s license and pay a small application fee.
NAVIGATING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
A smart investment to consider when traveling abroad is to hire a local guide as a companion to navigate your routes, plan excursions, suggest restaurants and introduce you to the local scene. However, if you’re more adventurous or find yourself on a solo trek, there are several phone apps that will assist:
Google Translate – a free multilingual translation service developed by Google, to translate text for both Android and iOS (Google Play store or Apple Store) of over 100 languages. Translations can be done through speech, snapping a photo of the text image (i.e, a sign or a menu), written or typed
XE Currency – free currency converter to calculate live currency and foreign exchange rates for over 60 currencies. App downloads are available for both Android and iOS.
When time is not a factor, acquiring a passport or visa should be done through normal channels by scheduling an appointment by phone or online with a U.S. Government Passport Agency in major cities, or work with a third party vendor.
However in the event where this process has to be expedited, there were a couple of highly rated third part sites that work with the U.S. and other embassies to move the process along quickly:
Cibtvisas Quick Check also provides a comprehensive list of every country’s visa requirements for both businesses and personal. Due to global events quickly changing relationship status with other countries, thus requirements of visiting foreigners could be upended so to be on the safe side, check with the U.S. Dept. of State for updates when planning a visit outside the U.S.
Smarter Travel by the U.S. Department of State – An app created by the U.S. State Department provides travelers with frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations and provides access to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to better assist travelers with emergencies such as natural disasters, unrest in foreign countries and lost/stolen passports. App downloads are available for both Android and iOS.
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
This subject will have an entire blog by itself due to the massive amount of infomation! One item worthwhile being mentions that parents need to be mindful for this 2020 traveling season has to do with documentation.
A passport is required if a child is traveling international, but it is also advised that your child should also carry a copy of their birth certificate, school ID or driver’s license/permit. In addition, a consent letter, from the other parent if you’re traveling alone with your child must be carried. Or in the case of nieces, nephews, friend’s child, a notarized consent letter must accompany the guardian, when arriving at the destination country’s immigration and customs.
TRAVELING WITH PETS
If traveling with your furry family member is non-negotiable, 2020 will experience even more pet-friendly programs at each and every vacationer’s touch points (i.e., airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc.).
Do your due diligence (visit the country’s embassy website) before planning your 4-legged companion’s travel venture. Many countries and states have specific health, vaccination and quarantine regulations. Be aware that your pet may also need to be micro-chipped. Be sure to check with your charter company or the commercial airline as to regulations and restrictions with regards to animals on the plane and in the terminal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pet owners to schedule (at least 6 months in advance) appointment(s) with their vets prior to traveling to get up-to-date immunizations, certifications and tests to get you fur child ready for travel.
Packing for your pet’s trip is just as important as your personal suitcases. It is advised to pack items for restraining (i.e., leashes, collars, safety vests, etc.), items for comfort (i.e., treats, toys, rain jacket, etc.) and an essential travel bag for accessible items during flight (i.e., food, collapsible water bowl, medications , travel documents, etc.) to handle immediate needs.
HEADPHONES TO CONSIDER
Travelling for long lengths of time by plane either on business or for pleasure, it is imperative for a savvy traveler to bring the correct tools for comfort and quality sound.
In the category of noise cancelling headphones, consideration of detecting environmental noise, battery life, comfort-ability, quick charge capability are factors in selecting the best for your travels. Three options for over ear headphones are:
· Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless with plug in capabilities with a battery life of 30 hours and has a feature that adapts the noise canceling based on current cabin pressure.
· The Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II – lighter than its competitor above, with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in and the ability to color custom the parts of the headphones (ear cups, ear caps, outer/inner headband and the spacers) with over twenty plus color options.
· Luxurious Bowers & Wilkins PX5 and PX7 inspired by race cars in England, adaptive noise cancelling that automatically responds to noise environment and your contains a lovely motion-sensing feature. So if you lift a cup from your ear, the sound pauses until placed back on the ear.
Stay tuned for Part II in tools for the affluent traveler. – AJ
Share your best practices in traveling overseas in the comment box below or on Twitter!
Thank you to the following sources for blog content
Upgraded Points – traveling with pets
Hat Tip to the following photographers from Pixabay and Unsplash: