The world may be our oyster, but a large majority of Americans are not taking full advantage of this since more than half of the population lacks a passport. According to the U.S. Department of State, more than 60% of Americans do not have a valid passport, meaning many of us are missing out on all of the wonderful opportunities and destinations that this world has to offer. And for those who fall into that category of not having one, TravelPirates has some reasons why you should consider sending in your application, and the steps required to get that international travel bug eradicated!
Next stop: ANYWHERE
The first and certainly the most obvious reason is the fact that you are no longer bound to your own country when choosing your next vacation getaway. With a passport, the sky is the limit. Well, maybe not the sky, but certainly the majority of the world. Why limit yourself to the homeland?
Excellent form of ID.
It's a backup plan and a good one. In case you lose your primary form of identification, i.e. your license, you can use your passport. In fact, there are some bars/restaurants that won’t accept out-of-state licenses as valid forms of identification, primarily in Massachusetts. So if you’re visiting another area and want to go out on the town, a passport might be your safest bet for getting in to the bars.
Traveling is the best classroom when it comes to learning about new cities, cultures and history. On top of that, the skills and experience you gain from traveling abroad can give you life-long personal benefits as well as a serious advantage in the professional world. TravelPirates finds new deals to enriching destinations every day. For example, a cheap flight to Hong Kong, where you can take a trip to the top of Victoria Peak, stroll through the city, and try some new cuisine at any of the many restaurant options. Click here to see the details about this Hong Kong steal.
Some of the most amazing destinations are also the cheapest.
The U.S. does provide some of the most beautiful places on Earth. They're also convenient and less expensive than most international destinations. However, you'd be surprised at what you can find outside of the mother ship as some of the most incredible sites reside in countries that are cheaper to get to than some cities in the United States. TravelPirates, for example, has found plenty of low cost international deals. Just one of the many is a 7 night getaway in Budapest, Hungary for only $459. This includes flights, transfers and an Airbnb. Talk about traveling on a pirate’s budget! Click here to see more details about the trip.
Guess what?! Something came up and you're leaving for China in a few weeks! But wait...You don't have a passport? Things come up and exciting, yet sudden, plans tend to rise to the surface. You may have never had the intention of traveling to another country but you’re also not opposed to the idea. Solution: Be prepared. You are always better safe than sorry! Besides, do you really want to say no to your boss about a 2 week paid conference in Italy?
Life is short.
Some people spend their whole lives never stepping foot outside of their homeland and ultimately regret it. How could you possibly feel fulfilled without even attempting to remove yourself from your comfort zone by exploring different places, cultures and people? Life is short and the opportunity to capture the wonders of the world is getting smaller by the day.
How to Apply for a Passport
Since you are applying for your first passport, the process must be completed in person. Here is a link to accepted facilities where you may complete your application. You can apply for your passport and have a photo taken at many U.S. post offices. Check here to learn find the closest facility that offers this service. You can also get your photo taken at many drug stores and supermarkets such as Rite-Aid, CVS and Walmart.
You will need to provide the following items along with your presence:
- A completed DS-11 form
- Proof of Citizenship
- Hospital birth record, early baptismal or circumcision certificates, insurance files, early school medical or census records, published birth announcements (such as newspaper articles) will suffice if a birth certificate does not exist or was filed 1 year after birth
- Proof of Identity
- Driver's license, passport card, military ID, federal/state/municipal government employee ID
- Recent Color Photograph
- Must be less than 6 months old and 2 inches by 2 inches in diameter
- The photo must be clear, with a full front view of your face, printed on photo quality paper with a light (white or off-white) background
- No hats or head coverings are permitted without a signed statement by the applicant verifying that the item is worn daily for religious purposes or a signed doctor's statement is submitted verifying the item is used daily for medical purposes
- Visit the official website for more details and information.
Processing Times & Fees
Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks from the time you apply until the passport is received. There is an option to expedite your passport for an additional fee. Here is additional information regarding processing times.
The application fees vary, as shown below:
Passport Card Information
A passport card is less expensive than a passport book, and it is only valid for re-entry to the United States from Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda by either land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. The passport card is not valid for international air travel. The application process is the same for the passport card as it is for the passport book.
We’ve given you the how and the why. The when is up to you!