New Year – New Passport

January 6, 2009
The Passport Card

The Passport Card

For someone who’s done a lot of traveling, I can still be a travel moron. Here’s the evidence:

Yesterday I finalized my itinerary for a trip at the end of February to New Zealand and Australia. Yes!

Yesterday I got final approval from my manager to take three weeks off for this vacation. Yes!

Yesterday I opened up my passport only to see that it expired last April. Crap!

Luckily, I have plenty of time renew my passport before my trip, so the situation isn’t dire. Mostly it’s embarrassing that my passport has been so unused that it took me eight months to notice it had expired. I need to get out of the country more often.

From now on, my New Year’s Day routine is going to be:

1. Change all the batteries in my smoke detectors.
2. Make an appointment to have my eyes checked and contact lenses updated.
3. Email all the people I haven’t talked to since last New Year’s.
4. Check to make sure I have a valid passport.

I think you should always be ready to flee the country at a moment’s notice. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

For example, a famous rich person may decide to make you her new BFF and whisk you off to Tokyo. Your boss might decide you’re the perfect person to attend a conference in Toronto. Your favorite singer might announce  a last-minute show in Paris that you just have to see. Or, something realistic might happen, like you and a friend find a cheap flight to an exciting destination. (Travel CUTS has Boston to London for less than $200 roundtrip? Go right now!)

Here are a few passport tips:

  • If you most of your traveling consists of going over the border to Canada or Mexico, by boat or car, then you don’t need a passport book. Instead, you can get a passport card. It’s only good for those two countries and you can’t use it for air travel. If you already have a passport book, you can get the card for $20 (and stop worrying about losing your passport book in Tiajuana), otherwise it’s $45 for anyone over the age of 16.
  • If you’re renewing your passport you have to send in your old one, but they will send it back for you to keep as a souvenir (although making copies of your favorite stamps and pages might not be a bad idea, just in case).
  • A passport is good for ten (10!) years for adults. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to hit the road, get your passport now so that you’re always ready to go (unlike me). It will also be one less expense to worry about later.

For more information about passports, go to the official government site: http://travel.state.gov/passport

I’ll let you know what else I’ve forgotten to do for this trip just as soon as I remember.

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