Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

6 Reasons You Should Have A Passport

on March 25, 2011
Biometric United States passport issued in 2007

Image via Wikipedia

My passport expired last month.  This is the first time since I was 17 years old that I do not have a valid passport and it grieves me. I just got the picture done and the paperwork filled out. I just need to get my act together and mail it all out. Oh, well, I have to write the check too.

So, since this has been on my mind, I decided to do a little research on passports in America. Our country doesn’t have the zeal for international travel that our European brothers and sisters do, in large part due to the prohibitive cost of air travel abroad.  But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t less expensive options that many Americans pass up.  I live less than two hours from the Canadian border and have only visited a few times in my life. Mexico is easily accessible, especially for those in the southern half of our country.

I read an article on the Huffington Post that detailed the percentage of passport holders in each state. Not surprisingly, the highest percentage of passport holders live on the borders or the coasts.  The middle of the country is significantly less. My lovely state of Washington is in the over 50% range. California, New York, and New Jersey are all, as expected, over 60%.  Mississippi is the only state under 20%.

So, in honor of my newest passport application,  I’ve come up with 6 reasons that every American should get a passport.

1. Traveling Internationally

This is kind of a “duh” statement, but it is the easiest way to travel abroad and the only way for most countries. If you are going to Canada or Mexico, you can get the Passport Card or Enhanced State Driver’s License, but these countries have special allowances. You cannot use your Passport Card to go to China!

2. Spontaneous romantic rendezvous in Paris or Rome

A girl can dream, can’t she?  Don’t we all harbor the dream that our loved one will sweep us off our feet and whisk us away to a romantic European city for a weekend getaway?  Now, how embarrassing would it be to have to say no because you didn’t have a passport! We must be prepared!

3. Easier at the airport

Even when I’m not going abroad, I use my passport as my ID at the airport.  I used to use my driver’s license and that worked fine most of the time.  However, when I moved to New Jersey and got a Jersey license in 2003, I started encountering difficulties at security. It turns out that the Jersey license in the late 90s-early 2000s was very easy to fake and subsequently, people looked at it with a lot of suspicion.  The passport is standard and every security agent recognizes it. Plus, it’s a great place to put your boarding pass inside so it doesn’t get lost.

4. Stamp Collecting

I’m not talking about those things you stick on your bills to make sure they get to their intended destination.  I’m talking about the stamps that customs in each country places in the back pages of your passport each time you enter the country.  Each country has its own unique stamp with the name of the country and sometimes a little picture.  When your passport expires, you have to send the old one in, but they send it back to you with holes punched in the bar code so you can keep your collected stamps. My first passport has stamps from Amsterdam and Switzerland. My second has the U.K., Italy and Jamaica. Who knows what my next one will have?

5. Show up the snooty Europeans

It’s a fairly understood fact that a higher percentage of Europeans hold a valid passport than Americans. Of course, it’s a little more essential when the countries are smaller than many U.S. states. Traveling internationally for the weekend is a way of life. However, there are many that look down on the Americans for not having passports. I say we should all get one and show them!

6. They are just cool

Seriously, I was really excited to get my first and second passports. I am excited to get my new one in the next few weeks.  There’s just something about having a passport that makes you feel like you are something special.  You could go abroad at any moment! You stay at home because you choose to, not because you are restricted from going anywhere! Whoo-hoo!

Okay, so it’s a short list and maybe I’m the only one that dreams of flying to Europe for a weekend, but the list has done it’s job.  As soon as I post this, I’m going to write my check, sign my forms, and send off my passport application!

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