How NOT to Get a Passport

The mail lady at the post office reached into a drawer and retrieved a bright green sucker for my crying toddler.”Can she have a sucker?” A candy bribe. Great. One of the many things I said I’d NEVER do as a parent.

From the Beginning

Back it up a few weeks. Nate and I were planning on starting a travel blog and working to plan an anniversary trip for the fall. We had talked about flying into D.C. and then taking the train up the coast to see Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and parts of Maine. Last minute, we found $99 flights to Iceland and immediately made that our destination.

I had a passport, but needed my name changed since we had gotten married. Nate’s had expired altogether. We knew we should’ve already done this, but just hadn’t. When we decided to go to Iceland, we realized that we were under the gun. I wrote “5 Things You Need to Be Doing Right Now If Travel is in Your Future” AFTER learning this lesson. Read it here.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting a Passport

Do get it early. Waiting will just stress you out and cause you to spend more money than necessary. If you know you want to travel, then you know you will spend the money on passports. I hate spending money so I put it off until the eleventh hour. Stupid.

Don’t pay $46 for CVS or Walgreens to take your pictures. Because we were rushed, we paid. Some of the passport submission locations offer photos services, but they cost the same as going to CVS. There are also services that offer cheap or FREE photos for your passports. Try https://www.epassportphoto.com/

Do look up everything ahead of time. Make sure you know where you’re going and bring everything you need. We didn’t. It was not a shining moment. There are different forms required depending on your situation. Make sure you bring the correct form of payment too. While some locations take debit/credit cards, many passport submission locations only take check or money order.

Don’t bring a toddler and leave the snacks at home. Good grief. You’d think I had no idea that I have a toddler. I guess I just didn’t realize how long we’d be out.

Headline: “Travel Bloggers” Try to Get Passports and Are the Biggest Fails Ever

It’s the eleventh hour. Get them in today or risk not getting them back in time. Literally. How did we get into this bind? We’ve known about Iceland for weeks. It didn’t sneak up on us or anything. We’ve researched and know all about the rush fees, expedited mailing fees, passport photo fees, and yet we still failed to get this done.

It’s 9:00am on a busy Thursday morning. Nate has work to do and I have piano students coming.

We hop in the car with our folder of documents (except the all-important pictures) and take off for the passport center at a local college.

Our car is out of gas and my phone, which we need for the GPS, is also dying. Not a great start.

We arrive on campus, but can’t find the correct office. NO one is able to direct us to the right place and we end up driving across town to another location.

We pull the toddler out, cross the street, and walk into the building just to be told that they are one of the only passport submission offices that does’t take the pictures for you on site. Back to the car. My phone dies as we try to look up the closest Walgreens. It’s just 10:30am, but we both need to get home. Fern’s completely oblivious and happy as a lark saying, “Hi car!” to every vehicle driving by.

The car won’t start. Nate is stressed, but I start laughing. This could’t get any worse…. or so I thought. Nate calls a friend and 20 minutes later we are trying to jump-start the car. Nothing. We leave our poor Jeep to be towed to her favorite home away from home (the mechanic’s shop) and our friend drives us back to his house. We then take his second car back to our place. Round 2. Surely this time. We just need to pick up our checkbook and start this whole thing over (like I mentioned, some locations only take check or money order).

It’s now 12:30pm. We pull up to our complex and realize that we left our house keys with the Jeep. I laugh again, but Nate isn’t amused. The office people must have thought we were some kind of stupid to lock ourselves out since the locks are magnetic and can’t be locked unless you have the key on the outside. Dummy proof. Sorta.

It was just one of those days. The post office was busy, but we finally made it to the counter with everything we needed. We paid ALL of the fees. If your passport has expired it’s even more expensive than just an update. Rush fees are an additional $60 each. You can also pay $15 each to have them shipped faster.

Nate: “We can’t blog about this. We did everything wrong.”

Me: “We are the worst travel bloggers ever. We should just quit right now.”

Nate: “We can’t be travel bloggers if we can’t even get our passports. We’re such fails.”

Me: “Maybe we can just title all of our posts ‘What NOT to do.'”

Full Circle

Whew. I’m tired just thinking about this day. In a previous article, I mentioned getting passports early. I think I’ll just start every conversation with, “Hi, I’m Hannah. Do you have your passport yet?”

Thanks for reading! GO GET YOUR PASSPORT NOW. Like, comment, subscribe, and go follow us on social media if you’d like to keep up with us.

Update

After posting this, the story just kept on going. We had called THREE passport acceptance centers to check what we needed before we went. We had turned everything in and taken a deep sigh of relief. Then we got the email …

No one had told us that we needed to also send in my old passport! The email said everything had been put on hold until they received it. ARG. We were in Oklahoma for the weekend with no way of getting to my old passport at home to send it in. After an hour on the phone, running through parking lots, crying, one really nice random lady, 14 phone calls to Nate with no answer, and an additional $24, I was able to send in another form to say that my passport was lost (just what the passport folks said to do).

It was their fault for telling us that we had everything when we didn’t. It cost us a ton of extra stress and and extra $24. They then recommended we spend an additional $30 to have it sent back sooner! So you’re telling me that the $120 and $24 wasn’t enough to get this done?

Get it done now!


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