The Travel Factory Blog
A Precious Travel Document - Your Passport
The very best government-issued ID is a passport. You should have one, in case someone asked you to go with them at the last minute to Mexico, or London, or Finland (the happiest place on earth), or just about any other country.
A very good travel site that I visit often is “smartertravel.com”. I'll get occasional inspiration from reading some of their content that is all about travel. One of those issues that I looked at recently, written by one of the editors, Shannon McMahon, regarded some passport rules that you need to know.
Naturally, quite often we make suggestions on vacation options, and one of the early questions we ask as we begin the interview is, do you have a passport? It is surprising how many folks do not have one. It's understandable though. The process is tedious, it takes time and effort, and it is considered fairly expensive. And if you are a family of four or six wanting to take one of those exciting all-inclusive resorts down in Mexico, then the expense is something to consider. The good thing is that it does not expire for 10 years, 5 years for children under 16, so that rational is something to consider. Of course the best place to check is the State Department's website: www.travel.state.gov/passport. That will get you ample information to get started, but.....
I think it is best to start the process as soon as possible.....you never know when you might need it, and it takes considerable time to get one processed. One of the tasks that has to be completed is to include two “passport pictures”. The Post Office can take those pictures, but so can Pack & Mail, Walmart, and some drug stores. The charge at the post office is more than at the other locations. When you take the pictures, you have to remove glasses, no hats, remove facial piercings or tattoos. Also you can smile, but not too much.....just a neutral expression with both eyes open.
You can get the passport application on-line or at the Post Office. The application costs $100 plus a $35 execution fee (whatever that is!!).
As I mentioned, it generally takes a while to get the passport processed. The estimate is around 4-6 weeks. A lot of that has to do with when you send in the application. If you apply from Feb. to May, the wait time is maximized because everyone else realizes at the last minute that it's getting close to their trip overseas in the summer and, “Hey, I need a passport!!” around those months. Along with your application and photo, you'll also need to send in your birth certificate plus one more important item.....payment.
Here's another note not related to passports. We've noticed in the ARN that TSA pre-check is setting up camp here in Abilene from April 8-19; 9A-12 & 1-5 Monday-Friday. That means you can go out to the airport here in Abilene; located in an RV outside the baggage claim area. You can make an appointment on line or walk-in to apply. The application fee is $85 which covers you for 5 years. It greatly enhances your transition through the security lines at the US airports. You will need to bring documents proving identity and citizenship status. They will also fingerprint you and you'll go through a background check.
Or, the experienced travel advisors at The Travel Factory are versed in what and how to do all things pertaining to passports, so give us a call at 698-1421 or drop in for an eye-to-eye visit with a real person at 4150 Southwest Drive between Rosa's and Chick-Fil-A. We want to get you outta town!!!