The Smart Traveler's Guide to Crossing the Border

Regular travelers are full of border-crossing horror stories. Maybe there was a five-hour wait time, or maybe a large fine for a forbidden piece of fruit. Luckily it’s getting easier to avoid common border hiccups at U.S., Canadian and Mexican borders. With a smartphone at your side, crossing the border gets a whole lot less stressful:

Peace Arch Border between Canada and USA [Vancouver, British Columbia]

Kevin_Hsieh | Shutterstock
Stay updated with border traffic times. No one wants to spend their vacation sitting in traffic. Check out the traffic cameras at your border crossing using the app, Borderlines. If the visual of backed up traffic is too much, crowd-source the fastest crossing with another app called Border Buddy. For official U.S. and Canadian wait times look no further than the BorderTimes app where you can compare nearby routes. 

Track airport wait times. Did you know your phone can help you browse the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for historical wait times at different airport customs? If you see the wait is unbearable at 2 p.m., schedule a flight for a different time of day, or plan on spending an hour browsing the airport as you wait for the lines to go down.  

Get out your phone to bypass lines. If you ever dream of cutting in line at customs, your time is at hand. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently experimenting with an app called Mobile Passport Control. With a secure profile you can enter your declarations and then join a shorter line. It’s said to be coming to an airport near you in 2015.   

How about getting through security? If airport security checkpoints are the stuff of your nightmares, consider getting the My TSA app. Check for airport delays and long security lines. Ask the app if you can bring certain items. Peruse the guide for common questions and for tips for traveling with kids or while disabled. 

Figure out what you can bring across. There’s nothing worse than realizing that your expensive specialty food can’t cross the border. Before you get ready to cross, whip out your phone and check out the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s tips on bringing food into the U.S. There are tips for bringing food into Mexico and Canada, too. 

You can never have too many travel apps. Check out Travel Apps In Case of Emergency for more ideas.  

 

 

 

 


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.

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