Saturday, January 10, 2009

Passports to....?

On New Year's Eve day, we took a little family field trip to apply for passports. For Kiddo, it was her first one ever, and Hubby's and mine had both expired earlier in the year, so we needed to renew ours. I must commend the local post office branch we visited - it is one of the smaller ones, out of the way and staffed by just 2 clerks - on their assistance and efficiency with the entire process. We were expecting the whole thing to be much more of a hassle, frankly, and it turned out to be a delight. The post office clerk took our pictures and got everything sorted in no time once we arrived, and was equally helpful on the phone when I called earlier in the week to ask ninety million questions about the process. So, off the applications went, to two separate locations (different if you're getting your first than if you are renewing) in three separate envelopes. I was surprised when the clerk told us they ought to arrive within 3 weeks, after hearing all the news stories about the terribly long back-ups at the passport agency over the past year. We were just doing the "regular" passport applications, not expediting, as we have no urgent need for them.

Kiddo's arrived yesterday, and Hubby's and mine arrived today. That is less than two weeks after we submitted our applications, and that is with a national holiday thrown in to the mix. Well done, US Passport Agency people!! Serious kudos for the speed at which everything was done and mailed back!!

So, now I've got these three, brand-spankin'-new passports sitting here next to me, and I find myself wondering.... in the next ten years, where will they take us? My last passport had stamps from several countries, from the UK to the Caribbean. Will this one take me back to Europe? To Australia? Africa? I know we'll be bringing it with us on our next trip to (or more precisely, through) Canada in the spring, as we now need them to get across the border for Canada and Mexico. (With our relative proximity to Canada and the fact that they have the better side of Niagara Falls, this made getting a passport for Kiddo more of a priority. I was 15 when I got my first passport, not 5!)

One of the things I've always used as a consolation measure when I start feeling sad about Kiddo being an only child is the fact that this means it will be that much easier to travel with her. I'll envision trips abroad, the three of us climbing the towers at Warwick Castle and gazing up at Stonehenge in England, or hopping in a gondola in Venice, or being awestruck by the Sydney Opera House, or going on a safari and seeing Kiddo's beloved African animals in their natural habitat in person. In my imaginings, Kiddo is always a bit older than five, so perhaps this isn't the passport that will see those stamps. I mean, children's passports are only good for five years, instead of the decade for which our adult passports are valid. I really do hope that schedules and finances permit us to fill at least some of the pages with stamps before these expire, though. Maybe not Africa, but at least Canada and Mexico, perhaps Europe.

I think there is a lot of value in visiting other places, seeing history firsthand, experiencing other cultures in person. I've always appreciated the opportunities I had growing up to travel abroad, and I want to instill that appreciation in Kiddo, too. So here I sit, gazing at our crisp, new, untouched passports, and I'm overcome with wanderlust....

So tell me, dear bloggy friends, what is your number one Passport-Required dream destination? How old were you when you got your first passport? What was the best place you've been so far? Do you enjoy traveling (especially great distances) with your child(ren) or do you think I'm nuts to be excited that Kiddo now has the necessary paperwork to go abroad?


Eudea-Mamia said...

To do list: The Greek islands - via some fancy-schmancy cruise line.

I was 12 when I got my first passport - for a trip around Europe and Great Britain with my parents and older brother.

Favorite passport destination? Italy, specifically Florence. The last time my travels actually required a passport - Nov. 1999. You reminded me that we've got to get our renewed! And passports for the boys. I just think it's good documentation to have, no matter what.

Did they confiscate your old one when you applied for the new? I cherish all the stamps, and would hate to give it up. I'm still sad I surrendered my original Social Security card when I got married.

I think it's brilliant and VERY exciting that you want to take Kiddo everywhere. I think travelling is a true gift that parents can give their children, if they're financially able. Nothing beats learning history by actually touching it.

annie kelleher said...

my youngest daughter has the travel bug and we're getting her her first passport this year in preparation for a summer abroad in nice... im not sure it's going to work out yet, but she's determined to see the world!

Kristin said...

You have eased my fears some. I think we are all going to apply/renew next week. I hope our post office is as organize and efficient as yours was.
I was a baby when I got my first passport. My parents took us on vacation everywhere. My first stamp was to Venezuela.

My name is Andy. said...

I traveled on my mother's passport the first time I went abroad (England). When did that practice stop? That kids couldn't travel on their parents passport? It's making me feel old.

I got my first passport in 2001 (age 31) so that Hilary and I could go to the Dominican Republic. Other then that I've used it to cross into the states.

You can use it to come visit us! Hint hint!

kwr221 said...

I want to go to Greece or AUstralia. Or back to England.

But in you boat, I would just go to Canada as often as possible for the thrill of it. ;-)

Carrie said...

I want to do Greece so bad it hurts!

Let's see, I was 21 when I got my first passport and I needed it to go on an Eastern European Tour with my college choir.

By far, my favorite place that I've visited has been St. Petersburg, Russia!

And I love travelling with my kid. I don't get the whole, "I have kids so travelling is nearly impossible" thing. You just have more stuff and it takes more time to get there. No biggie!

Anonymous said...

Hey, email me and let me know which post office you used and what documentation you brought for the kiddo.

We plan to get everyone passports after our tax refund comes in.


Sassy Britches said...

My first visit to your blog, and I'm so excited about this post!

My dream destination is Bali. I used to work at a travel agency, and this one hotel advertisement is stuck in my head, and has been for ten years! So, that's my spot.

I got my first passport at 21, working for said agency, to travel with a bunch of architeture students on a Grand Tour so to speak of Europe for 4-5 weeks.

My favorite place so far is a tie between Ireland and Peru. Although I've been to Italy twice, and it's a favorite too.

I think you should go for it with traveling with Kiddo!

Paige said...

I was 15 when I got my first passport- and spent that next summer all over Europe with friends. I LOVED it---still do. The most fun I have had was the first European trip with my husband--he had never been before. We spent a few weeks doing a little of everything---skiing in Austria and Switzerland, drinking in Germany, looking for hookers in Amsterdam, visiting friends in The Hague, eating in Belgium and for the first time I like Paris, because he did. Very strange how that worked.

But my favorite destination I think was New Zealand--jsut for the adventure of it

Traveling is one of our favorite things, and if I had kids I would tote them with from the very beginning

Bridget said...

I have an only child too and we were able to take her to some very interesting places she certainly would not have gone had we had a whole passel of youngens.
I myself got a bit claustrophobic trying to climb the tower at Warwick Castle and had to turn around and head back down midway. : ( One of the very coolest places I've visited though.

Blogging Mama said...

Number one place - Tokyo
Age at first passport - 15 (I did a one month summer exchange for school to Italy)
Best Place - Taiwan or France
My kids have been around the world at ages 2 and nearly 7 already and I think they are so much richer for it :)
Take the kiddo and go. Show her the world if you can. If you ever swing by Germany let me know. We have some great castles within minutes of my house :)

Michele said...

I was 12 when I got my first passport. Got it for our trip to my mom's native Ireland. It was a lovely trip. My first daughter was 6 months when she got her passport for our trip to hubby's native Amsterdam. Travelling internationally (from West coast) was so stressful, but it was great once we got there. I love so many places in Europe...The Anne Frank house in Amsterdam always is so fascinating. Look at the power of the pen in one child's hand. Wow. All time favorite is Italy, our honeymoon spot. There's just so much to see..Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Venice.....Oh, my, wanderlust is catchy!!

nikkicrumpet said...

Sadly at 48 I still have no passport. So far they've let me into Canada without one but i'm going to have to break down now that the time has run out. Hubby has had one since he was very young. My first trip would have to be to London, then on to Paris, Rome and Switzerland...although I'm pretty sure holding my breath until this happens would be a bad idea!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I haven't been too many places. For a passport, just Mexico, Ireland, Italy, and Greece. BUt, by far, the very best place to go is Ireland.

It is EVERYTHING you see on the commercials/tourist books. It really is THAT green. It really is THAT charming. The people really are THAT friendly. Now, I spent a whole semester there, so I really got to know the non-touristy places. But, overall, I'd say the entire country was like living in a big mossy leprechaun-y hug. People were so nice and fun and considerate. Do you like beer? You'd better, if you go there. Or Irish Whiskey. And the weather isn't top notch, but if you go during the summer, it's awesome. And, they speak English. That's a plus.

a little leprechaun said...

Love the post! Congrats on getting the passports so quickly!

Would love to go to Ireland...

Favorite(and only stamp) in passport - China

Got my first passport when I was 32.

Think that it's great that you got a passport for Kiddo. What a fun and great way to expose her to the world and different cultures.

Happy and safe travels!!

RMF said...

I got my first passport when I was 8 and went to England. E is going to need her second passport next fall--we got her one when she first came home since we didn't have an American birth certificate yet. So far she only used it on the cruise to Canada last summer.

Dreams...SO many! I'd like to see the town in the Netherlands where my DH lived for a year. I'd like to see China. Norway. France (I've been to Paris, but I hear there's more.) Scotland. Ireland. Israel, if I ever feel brave enough. Is that enough to be getting on with?

And of course I'd like to go to Canada to visit Andy and Hilary and Liam! :-)

Ronnica said...

I wish I traveled internationally more. Hey, it's one of the benefits of being single, right? If I could go anywhere, it would be either China or Europe (Italy and Greece specifically) to see ruins. I LOVE history and learning about other cultures.

I've been to Turkey twice and loved it. Talk about ruins! I think that Istanbul is the most fascinating city and should be a must-see on anyone's list!

My passport is probably expiring soon...hmmm...