Hard to believe, but there are still about 60 percent of Americans who don’t have a passport – a category I’m sure the majority of Sherman’s Travel readers don’t fall into.
If that’s the case for you, however, and you’ve been procrastinating getting one (or one for your kids), the U.S. Department of State is making it a little easier to join the ranks of 13.1 million passport-holding Americans, with “Passport Day in the USA” on March 9. On that date, facilities around the country will have special Saturday openings with no appointments needed. (Due to the dreaded budget sequestration, State Department agencies themselves will not be participating.)
The national outreach event is especially convenient for parents applying for passports for their kids, since applications must be done in person for those under 16, and the Saturday opening saves families from missing work or school. Here, some more incentive to become a passport holder now – and get going around the globe.
1. A passport wields the life-changing power of global travel. It’s virtually impossible to spend time in a different country and not be changed for the better. You’ll gain a broader worldview, an understanding into other cultures, and a new appreciation for the myriad perks we all too often take for granted here in the good ol’ U.S.A.
2. A passport enables you to start serving as a global ambassador for the United States. It’s no secret that Americans have a serious image problem abroad. But sweeping foreign policy changes aren't the only answers; rather, connecting with people on an individual basis can be far more effective. Not every American is an obnoxious, self-righteous, loud-talking cad who waddles around in perennial search of a McDonald’s while traveling abroad, and passport holders have a serious privilege – and responsibility – in helping shift such pervasive stereotypes.
3. Collecting passport stamps is seriously addictive. Yes, a freshly issued passport looks pathetically bare. But once you start accumulating stamps, you'll use any excuse to pull out your passport and start showing them off. (Why not get started planning your international excursion with one of these awesome trip deals?)
4. It’s far cooler to show a passport for identification instead of a driver’s license. Just be careful not to lose it – a passport is far more difficult and costly to replace than a driver’s license. Plus, if you lose too many of them, you risk getting flagged and denied future passports, or worse, as U.S. passports are worth hundreds on the black market.
5. After a long trip overseas, there’s no sound quite as lovely as the thump, thump of the U.S. immigration official’s stamp in your passport. Home sweet home becomes even sweeter after you've logged thousands of miles outside the country.
What's your favorite thing about having a passport?
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