First things first, check passport. Airlines can be particular about that. They use their SERIOUS FROWN when you try the “It’s just a little expired” line on them. As I recall, people tend to check your passport every five feet from check-in to boarding, and hotels get picky about it, too.
Okay, can’t be helped. I had to renew for Trip III. Poop. This won’t be cheap.
So the plan is to renew the passport ASAP, because who know how long it could take to process? 2 months? 3 months?
According to http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html/ you gotta fill out their form with all the details of your life, including a photo of your head. Not just any photo! Here’s the rules:
- * 2 inches square
* Your head should be 1 to 1 3/8 inches from crown to chin.
* White or off-white background
* Color photo
* Neutral expression. Like someone just let out a MASSIVE fart, but you are way to polite to give any indication that you noticed.
* Face straight ahead
* No hats, no matter how festive
* Don’t blink. Resist the urge.
* Picture must be of your current self, and not the you of yesteryear.
So you can totally do this yourself. Or, you know, you just walk into a Walgreens or something and pay people to do all the thinking and doing for you.
I’m glad one of my 2013 travel partners was willing to take a passport picture of my head. He broke out his heavy-looking camera and I proceeded to demand, “Less shadow! Less shadow!” He took a perfect picture, and it only occurred to me after I got them printed at Costco that I managed to wear a cream-colored shirt with a cream-colored background. That’s okay. Total cost: Friend favor + 13 cents.
Also, he takes really cool pictures of things other than my head. Go buy his pictures.
What to Include for US Passport Renewal
Okay, sorry for the info-dump comic here, but I like getting my important details down. To renewal the passport, I had to:
* Cut my Costco-printed passport photo with STEADY HANDS to 2″x2″
* Staple said photo CAREFULLY in the corners with 4 staples to the DS-82
* Review DS-82 1,986 times to make sure I didn’t forget to fill out anything important.
* Fill out check for $110 (It’s $140 if you want a passport card- like if you do Mexico a lot or whatever.)
* Become very anal, and check 47 times that you put the form AND the old passport AND the check in the Priority Mail envelope. There all in there, right? Didn’t fall out?
* Increase level of anal-tude and paperclip items to thin piece of cardboad.
* It’s time to seal up the envelope. Check one more time. Seal!
So, I went to the post office with my Priority Mail envelope. Inside was a Valuable Piece of Me- my old passport. I had spent many paranoid hours in airports and in Japan, making sure I had this thing close by, protected. Now I have to send it off. Into the unknown (aka “Philadelphia”).
FYI, it cost $5.75 priority in 2015, 2-day shipping with tracking and $50 insurance built in.