Take Good Care of Your Passport
With a passport in hand, you’re all set to explore the world. But before you leave on your trip, here are some tips to ensure that this valuable booklet stays safe and can take you wherever you want to go.
No matter what stage you’re at in your travel plans — even if you’re only dreaming about international travel — it’s never too early to open up your passport and make sure everything is in order.
For example, your passport includes a page where you can write down your address and emergency contact information. Do it in pencil so that it can be updated easily. Next, check the date that your passport expires. According to the State Department website, some countries require that your passport be valid for six months beyond the date of your trip, and some airlines won’t allow you to board if that requirement isn’t met.
It’s also important to make sure that your passport is in good condition.
Damage can sometimes be a signal to security personnel that the passport has been tampered with or copied, and it may hold you up at a border. While some wear and tear are expected, if your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the cover or the page with your personal information and photo, you’ll have to apply for a new one. Water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page and torn out pages are some examples the State Department gives as reasons to apply for a replacement before you travel.
Remember to make several copies of your passport before your trip. Copy the page that has your photo and full name on it. It doesn’t hurt to get an extra photo, too, in the unlikely event you have to get a new passport during your trip. Leave one copy of your passport with a friend, family member or your travel advisor — someone who’s able to respond quickly if you need help. Take the other copy with you, but make sure you pack it separately from your passport. And everyone you’re traveling with should carry his or her own passport. This way, if something happens to one passport, they won’t all be lost. You can spread the kids’ passports among the adults in your party.
It’s a good idea to only carry your passport when you absolutely need it. And when you do have it with you, keep it secure. Always keep it on your person, never in a carry-on bag that could be accidentally picked up by another traveler. If you’re carrying a handbag, but the passport in an inside zippered pocket. Look for a waterproof cover, too. Alternatively, you can get a money belt that can be worn around your waist or neck, underneath your clothing. When you’re out for the day, leave your passport in your hotel safe and carry the copy with you.
And if you don’t have a passport yet, while you’re dreaming of faraway places, get one now anyway. It also is an approved form of ID for domestic travel, compliant with the REAL ID Act that goes into effect October 1, 2020.
For help planning a trip abroad, contact our team of travel advisors