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?