One would think a travel geek would already have a passport, but I’ve never had the need.
My first “maybe I should moment” came when I learned about REAL ID legislation. Granted, states were complying with it over time, but inevitably, the choice would be that citizens would have to have federally-compliant identification, or would need their passport for domestic travel.
Back ten years ago, my parents offered to pay for mine. I had no desire to have one, but I also didn’t want them to pay for it. Hindsight being 50/50, nothing’s arisen that would have been easier or better having had it.
After being onboarded by Kohl’s in 2015 and 2016 and Home Depot in 2017, my dad subtly reminded me that my passport would satisfy both columns on the I-9. Given my potential to be onboarded to a number of companies over time, his point was valid. In states where identification is required to vote, passports can also be used to vote. While I’m not a frequent drinker, the few times I’m carded for a drink at a chain restaurant, passports can be used the same way.
In the ten years since that offer, I have become more active on Twitter, especially in social media and marketing circles, with many industry leaders coming from the United Kington, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland. Given my desire to be a remote freelancer, and the potential for conferences and other events to take place abroad, the argument was becoming more convincing for me to apply for one.
As 2017 came to a close, I developed good rapport with some marketing professionals who were encouraging me to visit their nations. It was also around that time that I learned about LibertyCon, rebranded from Students for Liberty’s international convention. Considering its international nature and since my time at UWM, I had become more interested in networking with more libertarian-minded people; it was yet another argument for the passport considering events could end up overseas.
At the beginning of this month, I decided to apply for it.
Come February 5th, with a checkbook in hand, I walked into the Post Office in Marlboro after leaving work. This is when I learned that they only do passports during a specific window during the week, and a short window on Saturday. The passport processing agent took me in regardless and examined my documents, telling me that my birth certificate wouldn’t be enough to satisfy citizenship.
Naturally, I questioned it, asking “So, when I’ve presented this to employers for onboarding, it’s been an issue?”
He replied, “It’s usable for those purposes, but the State Department wants the long-form that has more information.”
What was missing from mine were my parent’s names when I was born, in addition to more information about the place of birth.
Acquiring a long-form birth certificate is a process determined by where you were born.
Forty-seven dollars later (application fee plus expedited shipping), I had a long-form birth certificate within three weeks of application. As I looked it over, it did have more information, and I began to understand why the State Department wouldn’t accept the other one.
That following Saturday (February 24th), I walked into the Shrewsbury Post Office and took my place behind three other families at 9AM.
There were two women taking applications and one of the families had three kids who hadn’t had their pictures taken.
Ten minutes after being in line, I presented my application and its supporting documents to a clerk. Since I had the photos, her only question was if I wanted it expedited, to which I agreed. I wasn’t traveling anytime soon, but since I’ve developed a streak of impatience with shipping, I paid the fee for expedited shipping.
In and out within fifteen minutes, likely because I already had things filled out and pictures taken.
By 9AM on March 3rd, I learned that I’d have it on Monday and that it was sitting in Little Rock, AR.
That same afternoon, it was en-route to the post office near my parent’s house.
The following afternoon, it was sitting int he distribution hub that is literally located 10 minutes from my parent’s house.
By Monday (March 5th), while I taking lunch, I received the text that it had been delivered – it only cost me an extra $25.
Inside the Priority Mail envelope was three items: The Passport, a brochure with travel tips and services, and a handout that let me know that I would be receiving my long-form back in a separate envelope.
Fortunately, since I’m applying as an adult, my passport will be valid until 2028. Since I’m writing this post application, I foresee adding all seven continents to my travel goals. Among nations already under consideration: South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and maybe Israel.
Since Antarctica isn’t a continent open to tourism, getting there requires some effort, but in the event that I make it to Antarctica, I will be documenting it.