Should Everyone Have a Passport?
March 26th, 2010

Being in the travel industry, and having started traveling overseas at the age of 16, I almost assume everyone, or at least every adult, has a passport. To me, it’s like a drivers license or a social security card (if you’re a U.S. citizen) – perhaps I shouldn’t assume everyone has those either.

Furthermore, I also tend to forget that it’s not “common knowledge” that you now need a passport to go to Canada, the Caribbean and basically everywhere in the world outside of the U.S. The exceptions to this are the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Samoa, and a few other US territories, where I tend to send clients who want to travel in the near future and do not have a passport.

I am a firm believer that everyone should have a passport. I believe that at a certain age, everyone should have to apply for it like they do a social security card. I also believe they should be less expensive, so that everyone, or at least virtually everyone, can actually afford this. I’m not saying to make the process easier; the government can do their background checks all they want – thats a whole other rant of mine for another day. However, I firmly feel everyone should have the option to travel, and without shelling out over 80 bucks for a passport and more if you have to get it rushed, you’re not leaving the U.S. (except to those territories described above).

There are two reasons I feel this way. First is the more practical. There are many instances in which people have to travel out of the country – either for work, family emergency or even out of safety such as in a natural disaster – and guess what: no passport, you’re not leaving the country. Yes, you can get a passport at the least minute. However, you may have to personally go to the customs office and pay much more than  would if you had just applied for it in advance before you needed it rushed. (There are other ways to do it, though the customs office is often the quickest). We’re lucky here in Philadelphia that we have an office close by in center city. If you are living in a small town in the midwest, say, where the next big city is a few hours away and that’s where you have to go to apply for your last minute passport, it is much less convenient.

Secondly, I simply feel that with a passport people feel more free to travel, allow themselves to consider a wider variety of destinations and at least feel they have the opportunity to explore destinations outside of the U.S. and it’s territory if they chose to do so. I’ve had a surprisingly large number of clients want to plan a trip in the near future and tell me “but it has to be in the US or a place that I don’t need a passport.” I do offer them the information about the rushed passport but the (additional) downside of the rushed passport is this – you have to have your flight receipt or trip itinerary to get it. That means, you have to purchase your flights or pay for your trip before having the passport needed to take the trip. Now generally, there isn’t a delay in these rushed passports, but these days it seems people’s stress levels are high enough that asking them to pay for a vacation and “hope” that they’ll get the passport in time is a bit much, and I can’t say I blame them. So instead of applying for the passport, people just opt to stay closer to home. Indeed there are plenty of worthwhile destinations within our country, but wouldn’t it be nice to at least have the option to go elsewhere?

So, do you have a passport? If not, what is your reason for not having one? I am simply curious of people’s views on this – of what stops them from getting a passport, if they think they’d travel more if they had a passport, etc. I’m guessing that people who read this blog enjoy travel, so I figure that it is not a lack of desire to travel that has kept them from getting a passport. And finally, so I don’t exclude those who already have a passport, what is your favorite stamp in your passport?

2 Responses to “Should Everyone Have a Passport?”

  1. Maura says:

    I had a valid passport until I got married last September. I still need to update mine with my new name. But, since I have no international travel plans I have been putting it off as a not-so-high priority.

    • maya says:

      Hi Maura. Your passport is still valid with your old name as long as you book your ticket in that name. If you book it in your married name, then you would need to have your passport ammended. Actually instead of giving you a new passpot (unless yours is about to expire) they just put something in the back of your passport that would say “this passport has been ammedned with the name “your new name”. It’s quite a pain becuase everyone looks at it and says “oh your passport doesn’t match your ticket and you have to show them the page in the back where it’s ammended. Not so bad in the US but in countries where English is a challenge or they are not used to this procedure of changing the name, it is tougher. I always brought a copy of my marraige lisence with me as well to show the proof of name change.

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