International Vacation Home Exchange has properties all around the globe. If you want to visit any of these properties, you are going to need two things: a sense of adventure and your passport. Just one simple mistake can turn your tropical dream vacation into a staycation at home. And these days, you can’t simply wing it. Security is incredibly tight at any border in any country, so be sure you get things squared away with your passport well ahead of your vacation.
Here are common mistakes that travelers make with passports.
1) Missing Passport. If you rarely travel abroad, it could be easy to misplace your passport. Especially if you have moved recently. The worst thing that could happen is your flight is departing in a matter of hours and you can’t find your passport. If you know where yours is at (mine is in a safety deposit box) then continue reading. If you don’t know where your passport is at, stop reading and go find it.
2) Forgetting to renew your passport. Depending on what country you reside in, you will likely need to renew your passport every couple of years. Some countries have rules that state (in fine print) that passports must be valid for six months or more. If your passport expires a few days, or even months, before your departure date, you will not be able to enter the country you’re trying to visit even with a birth certificate, driver’s license, blood sample, and note from mom. Bottom line, check the expiration date to your passport. If it is close to expiring, time to get it renewed.
3) Waiting too long to apply or renew your passport. If you live in the United States, it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks for the government to process your application for a passport once they receive it. You can expedite the process, but it is going to cost you. It can also take several weeks if you are simply renewing your passport. Plan accordingly.
4) Errors on your application. If you have any mistakes on your application, your request for a passport may get denied. You will then have to resubmit an application. Crossing out errors on an application is a big no-no. Best advice is to fill out your application using an online form and then printing it.
5) Conflicting names. If you recently got married and changed your name on your driver’s license, then you will need to change your name on your passport. If there are conflicting names between your license and your passport, you may not be able to enter the country. You may be able to change your name on your passport for free. Again it depends on the country you reside in.
6) Not enough blank pages. This one surprised me. Some countries require that you have at least two to four blank pages in your passport. These pages are for customs stamps. This rule is important if you are a frequent international traveler. If you are, let me just say I am so jealous.
7) Wait, don’t forget about the visa. Are you traveling to the Summer Olympics in Brazil in August? Or checking out the Great Wall of China? You will need more than just your passport. Several countries require that travelers also have a visa. Obtaining and visa is whole process in itself (and a costly one). I even wrote about it a few months ago. If you have questions regarding visas, you can reach out an embassy or do some research online. There are companies that will help you through the process of getting a travel visa. I should warn you that if you opt to use one of these companies, do your homework. There are scammers out there on every continent that will try to rip you off. Be sure you work with a reputable visa company.
Best advice is as soon as you book your vacation home exchange and your plane tickets, to double check and make sure that your passport is up-to-date and not expired. And as always, safe travels.
Thank you to guest travel writer Carla Pruitt, follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla.