Tip of the week: Get a passport - before you need it
Do you love travel? Do you like to think about all the different places you could visit? Are you always "planning" trips, even ones you might never take?
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.
Great post. I'm always encouraging everyone I know, especially Americans, to get a passport. As a Canadian, we need one to visit the US so it makes us much more likely to have one and thus be more open to spur of the moment travel. But I also think that if more Americans traveled outside their own boundaries the world could be a much different place. Keep up the good work!
I have a passport :^)
I like to think of it in terms of "That's $135 you don't have to save for your first out-of-the-country trip."
Great advice. I have a passport card but thats because I live 3 or 4 miles from Mexico and go every now and then. There's a severe lack of theme parks south of the border, so I know I need to get a passport to see the international Disney and Universal parks.
I don't think Americans should travel within their own country without a passport. It serves as a duplicate ID and proves your citizenship. We're so naive to think that we would never be in a situation within our own country where you might have to prove our citizenship.
As a Brit, I have never not had a passport.
Having lived overseas as a US citizen for more than 14 years, my family and I have had passports for a long time and can't imagine not having one. Yes, it does open up so many travel possibilities and options.
Get your passport early in life also. I got my first one as a senior in high school. You have all the documents and people you need to document your identification living right there with you. The passport is good for 10 years and renewal is simple once established. I have used it for ID when moving and getting new driver licences. Never a problem.
I think it's ridiculous for American citizens to not have a passport, especially with the new restrictions on travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It's sad that a majority of Americans do not have this essential form of documentation. Forms of identification have become a big hotbutton issue these days with numerous Voter ID laws going into effect and/or being overturned by courts, that you would think the State Department would step forward to triumph the importance and advantages of having a passport.
Got a passport for my "40th" birthday, swore if I didn't have a stamp in it by my "50th" birthday, I'm killing myself!
Someone once told me that only about 8% of Americans have passports, which as a Brit, I find shocking!
Why does every tip post seem like an opportunity to bash the ignorant? Just because someone doesn't have a passport doesn't mean people are idiots. Certainly people should get a passport and let me remind you that no one should let their passports expire. BUT, if you don't, there's nothing wrong in not getting one. The money you save from delaying it makes no difference. The lack of owning a passport doesn't do anything to affect your life.
Pretty sure most people without passport would have to make major sacrificies to afford a long distance holiday, or at least to afford one that suits their health status and travel expirience.
I don't think those living outside the United States would even understand this topic.
^ I totally agree this opportunity shouldn't be about 'bashing the ignorant' and I do see your point about equivalent distances.
I wasn't "bashing the ignorant," I was merely making the point that there are far more advantages and in some instances necessities to holding a valid passport than disadvantages. The US State Department does a terrible job of promoting the value of the document, and most US citizens probably have no idea how easy it is to get a passport (assuming you have a relatively clean past), yet getting a driver's license or state-issued photo ID can be far more daunting and in some cases even more expensive.
Yup, a passport is pretty much the best form of ID.
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