October 11, 2022

I decided today would be the day to make sure all my documents were ready for the trip we have planned.  We have not traveled for a while and I really did not know what to expect, what documents to take, or what to make copies of for the trip.  Luckily, we had several traveling family and friends, and we reached out to them.  While I did not need a visa to travel, I did need my passport.  What else to take was obvious.  We needed our travel documents, health documents, financial cards, and money.  What I did not think of was copies of the above in case they were misplaced or lost.  I scanned everything (except the money) and loaded it to drop box, then made hard copies just to be safe.  I realize that is part of my “old school” showing, but it did make me feel more secure knowing I could show copies if anyone thought they needed to have something to hold.  What could it hurt? 

When I looked online, I found a passport is an official travel document issued by a government that contains a person’s identity.  A person with a passport can travel to and from foreign countries more easily (and now generally only at all) and access consular assistance.  A passport certifies the personal identity and nationality of its holder.  It is typical for a passport to contain the full name, photograph, place and date of birth, signature, and the expiration date of the passport.  While a passport is typically issued by national governments, certain subnational governments are authorized to issue a passport to citizens residing within their borders.  Many nations issue (or plan to issue) a biometric passport that contains an embedded microchip, making them machine-readable and difficult to counterfeit.  As of January 2019, there were over 150 jurisdictions issuing an e-passport.  Previously issued non-biometric machine-readable passports usually remain valid until their expiration dates.  Having an e-passports is not a requirement, but what could it hurt?

The last time I traveled I was with a group that specified all the travel documents I needed to take, including visas, a passport, and a health card showing proof of vaccinations (smallpox, etc.).  The director also suggested I take a copy of my birth certificate and an extra passport photo, just in case.  This time we are with another group which specified the travel documents but did not indicate I should take copies of all my important documents, just in case.  Frankly, on my last trip I did not have or need most of the financial documents I duplicated this time.  This time when I applied for a passport, I was given the option (for US$10) of receiving a passport card as well.  A passport card is a wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings and seaports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, and cannot be used for international travel by air.  The card provides a less expensive, smaller, and convenient alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea.  While I rarely travel to these destinations except by air, I figured, “What can it hurt?”

THOUGHTS:  The last time I traveled it was a good thing I brought my birth certificate and a passport photo as I lost my passport.  This was a time of tension in the country where I traveled.  I was refused entry into the embassy by the foreign nationals on guard outside and had to return with another US citizen with a passport to be let inside.  Having a reissued passport meant I also needed a visa to be in the country.  Standing in front of the document processor I was told they had no record of me entering the country and he would not reissue a visa so I could leave.  I finally understood I could “prove” I was standing in front of him for 100 Dinar (US$300).  What can it hurt?  I paid the fee and received my Visa.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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