Category Archives: speedy travel

5 Hot Travel Destinations for 2017Summer travel season is heating up and we put together five destinations that are proving to be popular this year.

Angra dos Reis, Brazil
In 2016, Brazil hosted the Summer Olympics and the influx of people visiting for the games turned into travel into outlying cities. The tourism board of Brazil is hoping to bring back the waiver to encourage another boom in tourism. A place well worth checking out is Angra dos Reis. This popular destination is where many of the country’s elite go to escape the crowds and own beach villas in the area. There are plans to open a 54-suite luxury hotel in the area as well as a golf course, more restaurants, and a marina.

Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade has been steadily growing since the end of the Yugoslav wars. The areas once covered in damage from fighting and graffiti has become restaurants and bars. The nightlife is vibrant and there are numerous night markets to take advantage of the local street foods. One of the biggest draws for tourists is the growing craft-beer brewing that has been showing no signs of slowing down.

Bermuda
Bermuda hasn’t been on any travel lists for a few years due to a financial crisis that left their tourism in a stagnant state. Bermuda has been shaking off the dive their tourism industry took and has been working on rebuilding and attracting travelers back to their island nation. Along with an improved economy, Bermuda is performing a 100-million dollar overhaul of the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, the islands 132-year old grand attraction for guests to stay in. Other luxury hotels are also getting modern makeovers to ensure the tourist industry gets back on its feet and stays strong.

Cambodian Coast
Want to do something off the beaten path that is also beautiful?
Cambodia has some of Southeast Asia’s most intriguing islands to visit, but getting to them has been difficult involving hours of travel. Now direct flights are being arranged from Ho Chi Minh City. Luxury spas are among the jewels you can find on Krabey Island and on Koh Russey, you can dine on traditional Khmer cuisine.

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Many travelers go through Guayaquil on their way to the Galápagos, but it is worth exploring on its own. New luxury hotels have opened to entice travelers to stay a little longer and enjoy what this country has to offer. There is also a wildlife sanctuary set on a former cacao plantation. The capital city has been modernized with playgrounds, galleries, museums, gardens, and even a Ferris wheel.

It’s early in the summer travel season, search around at sites like Kayak for deals on international travel fares. For many of these destinations you will need a valid passport only, no travel visa required. If you aren’t sure, talk to us and we can tell you what documentation you’ll need for your destination country.

What You Need to Know Before Applying for Your Ghana Travel VisaPlanning a trip outside the U.S.? Did you know that makes you part of around five percent of Americans who travel internationally each year? If you’re a first time traveler overseas, we have some tips to make it easier.

Tip #1 – You will need a passport.
Actually all signs point to travelers within the United States needing a passport by 2020, but you’re traveling outside the United States now and you will need a passport to exit and enter the U.S. when you return. You will also need to show a certified copy of your birth certificate to obtain your passport. Outsource the task of getting a passport and spend your time planning your trip and deciding if you really need to include that 15th pair of shoes. Once you get your passport, it will be good for ten years. When you get your passport photo taken, get a few extra copies. Sometimes random countries will ask you for one at the border or you might need one for a visa (more on visas in a moment).

Tip #2 – Will You Need a Travel Visa?
Not every country requires a travel visa for entry. This is where the process gets extra fun, every country has their own rules, regulations, and process for obtaining a visa for entry. It also usually requires a trip to the consulate or embassy. This is a good task to outsource.

#3 Research Your Destination
In many countries, people in the cities do not drive at all. Public transportation, taxis, private buses, ride-sharing and other ways to get around make even renting a car unnecessary for a lot of destinations. Look up where you’re going and learn the basic customs, hot spots, places to avoid, and whether a Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended to avoid getting sick from the food or water.
Tip #4 Where To Stay
A hotel isn’t your only option. Check out couchsurfing.org or AirBnB.com to get in a local’s home and really get a feel for the place you’re visiting (maybe even make some new friends) get insider tips on cool places to go and save money.
Tip #5 Learn How the Money Works
In the present, if you don’t have a credit card with a chip, ask your card issuer for one and you’ll likely get it. Most chipped cards won’t come with outrageous fees for using it abroad. Ask your credit card issuer what their fees are, if any to avoid surprises on your statement when you get back.

Using a credit card is excellent security against fraudulent transactions. However, not all businesses will take cards so it’s a good idea to carry a little local currency with you.

Figure out the exchange rate ahead of time so you aren’t trying to do constantly calculate prices. For example, if you are in Iceland and you know 600 Krona is roughly equal to five dollars U.S., you can have a rough and ready point of reference for figuring out how much to spend and keep on you.
Tip #6 Avoid Roaming Fees
When you board your flight, switch off your mobile data. WiFi is available pretty much everywhere, use that to upload your travel photo to Instagram instead of your phone’s data and you’ll save money.

Tip #7 Learn a Little of the Local Language
Most places you visit will have people who speak English. However, it is polite to at least learn how to say, “Do you speak English?” and a few other phrases in the local language. You might be met with grins and laughs for trying, but most people are happy to help if you try.

Tip #8 – Know the Basics to Pack
Here is a complete list of the basics you need to pack: a toothbrush, toothpaste, your passport, your phone and your credit card. Anything else you might want can be acquired where you’re going.

You can make life easier for yourself by packing clean undies for a week, if your stay is longer wash them in a sink with whatever soap is handy, and hang up to dry. Wool socks won’t heat up your feet and never gather a smell.

For clothing, dress nice and for the weather (again research your destination) and you won’t need more than two pair of shoes for most trips.

And that’s the basics for having a great time on your first jaunt outside the U.S.

Should you keep your passport current-The answer to that question is a qualified Yes!   By 2018, many states will not accept a state i.d. as valid identification for flying, and a passport is a great option to use instead.

With the summertime fast approaching, make  sure that you have all of your documents in place to be able to travel is vital. It would be awful to have a wonderful vacation planned out and then check and realize your passport has expired or is close to expiring.

 Summer is the Busiest Time for Travel

What this means though is that processing time for passports and visas take even more time than usual. The standard time for processing passports is approximately 4 to 6 weeks. However in the busier season it goes up to between 7 to 8 weeks. If you are traveling somewhere that is usually a popular vacation spot or is really popular for a certain reason the time could go up even more. That’s why outsourcing the acquisition of your passport is a great idea.

 An example: in 2014 the world cup was in Brazil and this made Brazil seriously overrun with travelers and hence longer processing times. For the 2016 Olympics, Brazil waived the  visa requirement, but not the passport. 

Another reason to keep that Passport Current

 The state department strongly suggests that you don’t wait till the last minute to renew your passport. There are countries that will deny access to people that have less than 6 months left before their passport expires. So keep that in mind and make sure you check your documents. You can and should check out the country that you are planning to and you can get your destination country information at the State Departments page here.

If You Get Caught Short with Your Passport

 So you check your documents and you find that your passport is expired or just plain lost. Or you check your travel destination and find your passport is due to expire within the time frame that makes your destination country a no go. You also don’t have the time or don’t want to wait 4 to 6 weeks or more for your passport. What do you do? That’s where we come in.

Texas Tower can expedite your passport same day or within 24 hours. Additionally, they can answer any of your questions personally and you get the personal touch of having experienced people to help you through what can sometimes be a stressful situation. Just go to Texas Tower Passports and get started.

 

SARA (2)Not the United States.

Passport power is measured by the number of countries an individual can visit without needing a travel visa for entry. For 2017, the top spot is being shared by two countries.
Global Passport Power Rank 2017 - 9GAG.clipular

Germany and Singapore are welding the most power with their passports this year with their countries’ respective passports allowing bearers to visit a whopping 159 countries visa-free.

Sweden comes in a solid second place with their passport allowing entry into 158 countries.

The United States is now in third place with a U.S. passport unlocking entry into 157 countries visa-free.

An interesting statistic recently showed only 38% of U.S. citizens own a valid passport. Between 2018 and 2020 that number is expected to grow as more individuals choose a passport to meet requirements for state to state travel to be in compliance with the REAL I.D. Act.

If you need to renew your current passport or want to apply for your very first one, we’re here to help you through the process. We can expedite your passport and get it in your hands fast than through standard channels. Every member of the family will need a passport to travel internationally, however the Real I.D. act will not require minors to have a driver’s license or passport to fly domestically.

 

How (1)There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport, ready to get your boarding pass- and your passport name doesn’t match your identification.

Newly married, newly divorced  are among the most common reasons for a name change. If all your identification doesn’t match, you’re not going anywhere until it does.

A good thing to do is either change your name well in advance of your departure or wait until you get back to handle all the name changes. Otherwise, your trip might stall in the security check.

Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security
Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security

Here’s all you need to do to get the ball rolling for an updated passport. First make sure you meet the requirements to reapply.

Then gather the following documents and items: (click to view larger)
Reapply - Name Change - Texas Tower Fast Passport and Visa Call Now! (713) 874-1420.clipular

Call our offices today at (713) 874-1420 if you need to change the name on your passport and have any questions. A team member can walk you through the process.

Travel Hacks for Getting Your Passport and Travel Visa Effortlessly

The actual beginning of every trip whether business or pleasure begins with planning. Then getting your tickets. Once you have your destination, make sure your passport is up-to-date and then if you need a travel visa, we can show you how to skip making a trip to the embassy.

How getting a passport through Texas Tower works:
Depending on the type of service you need, we have set up a specific passport page to assist our clients. We have a dedicated page for each type of passport request, set up with easy to follow instructions and what forms we need from you to process your passport request.

If you have any questions, we pride ourselves on the fact during business hours you will always talk to a person, never an automated service. We like to deliver a one-on-one service because each passport application is unique as the person requesting it. If you need your passport as fast as 24-hours, we can process that too. Get started on your passport here.

Since a travel visa isn’t a one-size-fits-all-countries endeavor, we have a dedicated page for each country, and whether or not they require a visa for entry for United States citizens. If a visa is required, we have a form that will list exactly what paperwork you need to provide us. Our agent will make the trip to the embassy on your behalf. Tap to choose your destination country.

One of the best travel hacks you can do when you’re gearing up for an international trip is outsourcing your passport and/or visa acquisition. This frees you up to plan your trip instead of standing in line. Call us today if you have any questions at 713-874-1420.
outsourcing

How

No matter what the reason is that you need your passport, we can help you.

passport6

The number one reason people realize they suddenly need their passport, is the country they are about to visit needs to see that you have more more than 6 months left on your passport before it expires. If you have less than six months left until the expiration date, pretty much consider your passport expired.

compareservice

You have choices for renewing your passport, changing the name on your passport, or even applying for your first-ever passport for yourself or a child in your family.
If you choose to go through the State Department – there are fees and the process can take on the average anywhere from four to seven weeks. This is exactly the reason it makes sense to outsource the processing of the paperwork to Texas Tower.

We can bring the standard time service for obtaining your passport down to 8-12 days.  If you need your passport on a rush basis, we can have your passport within 24-hours.

Read more about the types of passport situations we can assist you with at the Texas Tower Passport page.

Where to Next-Are you a valid licensed driver in the United States? If so, you can qualify for an international driving permit (IDP). The IDP is recognized by most governments as a valid permit to operate a car, motorcycle, or other type of vehicle.

There are only four things you need to do to obtain your international driver’s license:
1- Fill out the application for your IDP
2. Fill out our order form
3. Two (2) Passport-Type Photos (signed on back) – you can get these at any CVS or Walgreens
4. A clear copy of your valid state-issued driver’s license

Notice no driving test is required? You must be at least 18-years of age.
The list of countries that recognize IDPs as a valid instrument for vehicle operation are many:

AfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngola
AntiguaArgentiaAustraliaAustriaBahamas
BahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelgiumBelize
BeninBhutanBoliviaBotswanaBrunei
BulgariaBurmaCambodiaCanadaCape Verde Islands
Cayman IslandsCentral African Rep.ChadChileColombia
CongoCosta RicaCubaCuracaoCyprus
Czech Rep.DenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominica Rep.
EcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEthiopiaFiji
FinlandFrance (including French Territories)French PolynesiaGabonGambia
Germany
GhanaGibraltarGreeceGrenada
GuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyana
GuyanaHaitiHondurasHong KongHungary
icelandIndiaIndonesiaIranIreland
IsraelItalyIvory CoastJamaicaJapan
JerseyJordanKenyaKuwaitLaos
LebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyaLiechtenstein
LuxembourgMacaoMadagascarMalawiMalaysia
MaliMaltaMauritaniaMauritiusMexico
MonacoMontserratMoroccoNamibiaNepal
NetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNiger
NorwayOmanPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguay
PeruPhilippinesPolandPortugalQatar
RomaniRussiaRwandaSt. ChristopherNevis & Anguilla
St. LuciaSt. Vincent & GrenadinesSan MarinoSao Tome & PrincipeSaudi Arabia
SenegalSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSouth Africa
SpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSwaziland
SwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyriaTaiwan
TanzaniaThailandTogoTrinidad & TobagoTunisia
TurkeyUgandaUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUpper Volta (Burkina Faso)
Vatican CityVenezuelaVietnamVietnamWestern Samo
YemenYugoslaviaZaireZambiaZimbabwe

Ready to get your IDP? Get started here. If you have any questions about obtaining your IDP or feel you may have special circumstances, just ask us!

Budget-Friendly Destinations for Spring Break 2017Spring Break is fast approaching, have you made your plans? If you’re still searching for the best deal on where to go – here are some ideas inside and outside the U.S. that are kind to your bank account and perfect for the student on a tight budget.

1. Daytona, Florida

With average temps hovering in the low-80’s during Spring Break, Daytona has great weather and cheap hotels in abundance. There is a Big Red Party Bus that travels up and down the beach and is easy to catch either way. The boardwalk, beach, or local clubs are filled with activity and it’s a definite non-stop party scene.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Both North and South Myrtle Beach in South Carolina have white sandy beaches and very affordable hotels. There’s a ton of live music and clubs. Hotels here tend to be even more budget-friendly than in Florida, so it’s worth checking out.

3. South Padre Island, Texas

Looking for a Spring Break experience that is anything but tame? This is your destination. South Padre is small but mighty. The island is filled with tons of bars within walking distance and the hotels are very affordable. Most of the accommodations aren’t exactly 4-star but chances are good you won’t be in your room too much anyway.

4. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

None of the above destinations require a passport, this one will. Costa Rica is completely gorgeous and if you love beach time, this is your nirvana. You can swim, whitewater raft, and enjoy zip lining. There’s still time to book a trip and keep the cost down on a roundtrip ticket.

5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This is a great destination. Ocho Rios in Jamaica is a very busy port that numerous cruise lines use and it’s not hard to see why this is so. The water is clear, there are jungle mountain ranges and the beaches are pristine. Margaritaville is where the Spring Breakers head to. You can party hard or rent an ATV, horseback ride, or experience their whitewater rivers on a raft canoe or kayak. You will need a passport for entry.

6. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Since this is a U.S. territory, you won’t need to worry about breaking out your passport. If you book your flight far enough in advance, you can usually score some great deals on travel to this destination where you will be able to enjoy affordable hotels, pristine beaches, and a jumping night life.

7. Cancun, Mexico

It wouldn’t be a list of Spring Break places without the original Mexican paradise destination, Cancun. There are nearly constant parties, bars, live music fests, and very affordable rooms. Shop around for roundtrip flights and you can probably snap up a great deal. Just pack your bathing suit, sunscreen and your passport and you’re set!

Newborn Passport and Traveling TipsThe short answer to that question is : yes.

All children, no matter what their age under 15-years-old need a child’s passport. We have made the process for getting kid’s passports streamlined.

Steps to Getting a Child’s Passport
Forms and Documentation You Will Need
Go to the State Department and fill out the DS-11 form online – do not sign.  Print two copies of the DS-11.
One is for Texas Tower and one is for the envelope the passport deputy is going to execute and seal for you.

Get two passport quality photos taken. If you have a local Walgreens, Kinko’s, or CVS – all of these facilities are familiar with taking passport photos.

You will need an original, certified birth certificate for the child.

A check payable to the Department of State for $140.

Next, you will need to provide a clear copy of the mother’s and father’s state-issued identification. If either parent cannot be present at the time of execution of the documents,  then a notarized Form DS-3053 is needed.

Now you need to provide proof of departure for the child. This is easiest to do in this format:

A. Copy of airline tickets
B. Company letter of expedite. (Sample Below)
C. Travel itinerary Sample Letter

Then you need to print two copies of the Texas Tower Authorization form. This gives us permission to expedite the passport process for you. One copy will go in the envelope to be sealed by the passport deputy. The other will go on the outside with the DS-11 copy you made for Texas Tower.

These are all the documents you should need to obtain your child’s passport.You will need to make an appointment with your local post office to have a passport deputy witness your signing of the DS-11 form, and seal your envelope with your documents for the passport office. If you are unsure where the nearest office is to your location, just go to You can find a complete list of local agencies at http://iafdb.travel.state.gov and you can find the most current list. The passport deputy will charge a fee of $25 for the execution of your documents.

Once the envelope is sealed by the passport deputy, do not open it again.
Ask for the envelope back and attach the copies of the forms you made for Texas Tower along with the authorization form to the outside of the envelope.  To see the current list of fees, please go here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Then simply mail or overnight to Texas Tower and your passport for your child will be expedited.