Life Lessons

You Can’t Leave The Country Without A Passport

It’s not a secret that in order to leave the country, one must have an updated passport.

This is common knowledge. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

The night before my families epic European vacation, my husband had finally come home after working over twelve hours, day after day. He was tired and still had to pack. He retrieved the passports from their hiding spot and I knew it wasn’t good news when I heard the words, “Oh Shit.”

I was sleeping, or trying to sleep, and had on my earplugs and eye mask. I take sleeping very serious and knew Jon would be home on the later side. We were going out of town for almost five weeks, and unprecedented length of time for our family, and he had been burning the midnight oil at work for weeks. This had all seemed like a pipe dream, months ago, when my husband came home one day and said, “All the partners at my office met and we decided each year one of us can take a six week vacation. Since I’m the oldest, we get to go first.”

We had dreamed and planned and dreamed some more, until our Europe trip was finally here. Jon was ecstatic to have this much time off and we tried to explain to our teenage daughters what a luxury this was. How he wouldn’t have this much time off again until his retirement.

I was all packed and ready to go, trying to get a decent night’s sleep while managing my excitement. Five weeks is a long time to go out of town and there had been a lot of details to organize. I’d managed to finish my long list and was sound asleep when I heard the “Oh Shit.”

“Dara, wake up,” Jon was saying to me, “We have a problem.”

I couldn’t imagine what type of problem we could be having. I’d paid the bills, picked up all the drugs my neurotic family wanted to take over the big blue ocean, cleaned out the refrigerator and took care of the dog.

“What is it,” I said, half asleep, half annoyed, half hearing what was being said since I still had my earplugs in my ears.

“I’m pretty sure our passports expire in three days.”

Don’t let your passport expire.

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I sat up. Eye mask off. Earplugs out.

“What did you say?”

“Yep, our passports expire in three days. I must have looked at the girl’s passports when I checked to make sure all was good and assumed ours were fine as well. They aren’t.”

Here’s the thing, you can’t leave the United States unless you have a passport that’s good for at least six months past your departure date. Yep, we were in trouble.

I didn’t yell. I didn’t react. We went into crisis mode. It was a simple mistake and I could have easily made the same one.

Jon made a ton of calls, looked online, called the airlines and it was decided that we would take our original flight to New York City, and visit the passport office there. The office there is able to issue passports quickly, as long as you have proof of plans to leave the country.

But, it wasn’t easy.

A shout out to American Airlines for not charging us anything to change the tickets. We ended up spending a night in New York, instead of taking our original flight to Scotland, and took a flight out the next day. We could have been hit hard with fees for having to change our tickets, but luckily we weren’t.

My husband took care of everything. He woke up early, waited in the passport line starting at 6:30AM, and filled out all the necessary paperwork. It was a few hundred dollars to get everything we needed, but his pride was hurt more than anything. “I could have done the same thing,” I kept trying to tell him, “This could happen to anyone.” In fact, it happens to more people than you think, because our hotel, which was located next to the passport office, was full of people who were facing the same issue we were.

Fortunately, we were able to get the new passports and that evening, at 7:00PM, we were on our way to Scotland. Our European adventure was starting. One day late, with a funny story to share.

Your takeaway: Don’t let your passports expire, ever, and make sure they’re up to date before you have plans to leave the country. And, if this does happen to you, don’t freak out. With a little inconvenience, you can get it fixed and be on your way. I’ll have more stories to share from our European adventure coming soon.

Find meaning each day,

Dara

 

 

4 Comments

  • I really enjoyed being a voyeur on your family vacation. Thanks so much for sharing. Linda and I just made a six week ‘road trip’ to the ‘left coast’ – northern US route west and central US route back east – meeting the kids, grands, and extended family on the Oregon coast. It was a wonderful adventure, but did take planning. I am glad we did not need Passports!

  • In August 2014, when we were on our way to Scotland to get married, we nearly missed our flight out of Philly because we weren’t told of a gate change. We sat in the gate on the display when we walked through and went to the gate, then deciding to grab some food whilst we waited. We came back and sat with a whole room full of people. Everyone got on the plane to Munich and were looking around, with about 20 minutes before our flight was to take off. We asked someone who came out of the gate and they said it had been moved to a whole different Terminal. So we had to hightail it to a gate/terminal that was around 15 minutes away. A cart passed by us twice carrying others (who we saw on our flight) and could hear them calling our names over the PA system. We were running (well, she was, I was walking briskly… 300 lbs doesn’t run…) and yelling loudly “we are coming!!!” We were the last ones on the plane and since I knew the overhead compartments would be impossible to navigate, we had to fly 8 hours with our carry-ons under our feet. Not the most comfortable thing but at least we were on the plane and we have a story. Glad you made it!