Tip of the week: Get a passport - before you need it
Published: October 2, 2012 at 2:43 PM
Help make your travel dreams move closer to reality by taking a few moments to get yourself the single most important thing a traveler owns - a passport.
With passports, the Niles family is ready to travel.
Yeah, I've heard your excuses. You can't afford to travel outside the country. Or, maybe you think you could save up the money someday, but you've got plenty of time before you'll need one. But let me counter with this: Having a passport in your drawer - ready to go - changes the way you think about travel. It allows you to seriously consider possibilities that existed only as fantasies before.
Without the passport, there's no way an American is visiting Tokyo Disney, Efteling, or Universal Studios Singapore. So that's one more thing keeping you from getting serious about setting aside the cash, making a budget, or checking prices to plan a trip outside the country. Chicken, meet egg. (And vice versa, of course.) Get the passport, and you've eliminated one more excuse that's keeping you from planning the trip that, let's face it, as a theme park fan you probably really, really wish you could take.
Let me frame this for the science geeks out there. It's all about Newton's First Law of Motion: If you're an object at rest - sitting at home without a passport - you're not going anywhere. If you're an object in motion - say, a traveler with a passport - you're going to stay in motion until something stops you.
Very few of us are going anywhere right now, in early October. So keep your travel juices flowing during your stay-at-home time by starting the process to get yourself a passport right now, if you haven't gotten one already. And if you do have a passport, go get it and check the expiration date. If you're within a year of its expiration, renew it.
A first-time passport will cost you $135 (it's $105 for kids under 16). Don't bother with the cheaper passport card - it's only good for land crossings or cruise sailings to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. If you want to fly anywhere, or see the rest of the world, you'll need the real deal - a passport book. Get it, and I'll bet you'll soon start looking for an excuse to use it. Then you'll be traveling, which you love, right?
And one more thing, if you live in a state that's trying to enact a voter ID law, passports are the world's ultimate form of identification. I've found that passports always are accepted as ID - anywhere. Don't bother settling for some state-issued, non-driver's license photo ID. Invest in a passport instead, and you'll buy yourself admission to the rest of the world.
For more travel tips, visit Theme Park Insider's 100 Travel Tips for Visiting Theme Parks.