I have known my assistant Amy for over 10 years. During that entire time, she has never owned a passport. In fact, outside an impromptu road trip she joined me on several years ago to Winnipeg, she had never left the United States. Outside of the slightly awkward fact that the assistant of a world traveler doesn’t have a passport is that fact that her husband is a pilot which means she has the ability to fly all over for free! In celebration of National Passport Day in the United States, here is Amy’s story about how she finally got her passport.
This past week, I finally did something that Gary has been trying to convince me to do for over 11 years. Like thousands of people are doing today, I went to the passport office to apply for my first passport.
I can hear all of the gasps now. No, I have never had a passport. Like over 60% of Americans, I have never applied for one. That’s not to say I haven’t been out of the country. I have crossed the border to Canada twice prior to the need for a passport to do so. I have also traveled to 28 states in the United States, so I am not exactly shy of travel. But I’ve always had to limit my travel planning because I didn’t have a passport at the ready.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gone to the passport office. I’ve attempted a couple of times in a couple of states. But I always thought about getting a passport at the time I was changing my address on my drivers license. Having a driver’s license that has an address that conflicts with the address you want them to mail a passport is a big problem, and I was always told to come back after I had my new driver’s license. And… I never did. Procrastination is a constant companion of mine, but never a friend.
It was so incredibly easy to apply, I am even more embarrassed it took me this long. I went to my local sub-courthouse with a form I had filled out online and printed at home. I surrendered my birth certificate (which I was assured I would have returned), showed my driver’s license, paid a fee and had my picture taken. All in all, it took less than twenty minutes.
Working for Gary and not having a passport is not the most absurd part of my situation. I am married to a commercial airline pilot and have flight benefits with a major airline partner. I could travel standby for virtually free to over 900 cities across the globe. While having small children (or being pregnant) during almost all of my marriage has definitely limited travel, for six years I could have traveled globally with flight benefits. Not to mention all the cheap backpacking trips I could have taken in my college to early twenties!
I will make sure to get my children passports soon so they don’t have any barrier to travel standing in their way. I definitely don’t want them to have any regrets or sadness about experiences they could have had. Hopefully through awareness iniatives like the State Department’s Passport Day in the USA and Expedia sponsored Passport Party Project their generation will think it is only natural that every one of them has a passport.
What is next for me? I am ready to travel the world… in four to six weeks.