News You Can Use: Passport Tips Edition

News You Can Use: Passport Tips Edition

First, a huge congrats to the winners of our contest from last week: Anthony G, Sayda S, Michael B, John T, and Hillary R! We’ll get in touch with you to get the best address to send your item to!

I love my passport. I am sure many a traveler would agree. Passports serve a very practical purpose, but of course we know they’re more than that. For many of us, it might be the only book that documents our experience. Sitting with an old passport and flipping through the faded stamps bring back memories that refuse to fade.

Fascinating Passport Website

And so I was engrossed in a very cool website a reader sent me the other day. Ever wondered what every single passport cover looks like? Curious how your passport “ranks” in terms of how many countries it gets you into without the need for a visa? There’s one webpage that has the passports of the world organized by geography and rank, and it’s by far the coolest website I have visited in the past week! So take a moment and head over to Passport Index. Where does your passport rank? Which cover looks the coolest? Be warned: If you’re a travel nerd like me, the website is a total productivity killer!

For FREQUENT International Travelers

I am running out of passport pages. The realization hit me while standing in line at customs in Rwanda. The good news for people in similar situations that are US Citizens is that you can add extra pages in your passport. There are two ways to do this, but the State Department made a huge announcement a couple of months ago: Come December, adding passport pages to your passport will be a thing of the past. If you run out of pages, you need to get a new passport. End of story.

  1. When you are renewing your passport or getting your first passport. Get this: You can request the extra pages FREE OF CHARGE, or so they say. I requested this since my previous passport also ran out of pages, but the State Department just sent me a normal passport and no amount of protest was going to get them to do right by me.

Expert tip: If you’re applying for a new passport, get a passport card as well. It’s a wallet size passport that is good for land crossings into Mexico or Canada as well as sea entries from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. The card is only $20 extra, and it allows you to not only travel without your giant passport book under the circumstances listed above, but to utilize special entry lines that move much more quickly than the traditional processing lines!

New for the Infrequent Traveler

Many a frequent flyer has opted in to a fancy program called Global Entry. For the casual travelers, you might not recognize the name, but you’ve seen the power of this when you travel abroad. When you return to the United States, you get in line and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Who the hell are those people walking past the line? They’re people who paid $100 and passed a basic flawed security background check.

Some people can get it for “free” with their credit card. Fancy cards like the Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige come with a deal that allows you to apply for Global Entry OR TSA Pre and get the cost refunded. But if you get Global Entry, you get TSA Pre, so for most folks it’s a no brainer.

But what about everyone else? Is there a way to skip the lines? We recently wrote about our “must have travel app” of 2015: Mobile Passport. On a delayed flight I thought I had no chance of clearing customs in time to catch my connection, Mobile Passport allowed me to breeze but the long lines of travelers, breeze through customs, and make my connection. The app is free. I repeat, the app is free. And their expansion is on track, as they recently announced the newest city you can use the app in: San Francisco. So if you’re flying into SFO, Chicago, Miami or Atlanta- it’s a no brainer to download and use to skip the lines! LAX next? Pretty please!