Five tips to avoid problems with passport delays

A picture of a passport with a map behind it.  Also in the picture are a part of sunglasses and a cup of pins as though a traveler is using the passport to visit places marked by pins.

Do you have plans to travel internationally? If you have seen recent articles regarding passport processing delays, such as this one, you may be concerned. Here, we will discuss five ways to avoid the pre vacation fears associated with getting a passport.

  1. Be sure to apply early

    The easiest and safest way to protect yourself from the delays the State Department is experiencing is to apply early for a passport. For adults, passports are good for ten years. If it takes three months to get your passport but you apply six months before your trip, you have, theoretically, wasted three months of that ten year period. Thats a spit in the bucket compared to the ten years though. Essentially, when it comes to applying, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Bonus Tip

    Passport cards may be processed faster but you really don't save very much time or money and they are less useful. Should you find yourself required to pass over the boarder on a land or sea port frequently, the passport card may be right for you. On the other hand, if you plan to travel by air, to any countries besides Canada or Mexico, or less frequently, do your self a favor and just go for the traditional passport.

  3. Get Travel Insurance

    I wasn't a big fan of travel insurance. I didn't think that it was necessary. That is until the Covid-19 Pandemic. We saw unprecedented trip delays, interruptions, and cancellations. In some cases, people had to spend extra time working from a place that they were quarantined in. Several government departments all but shut down. Travel insurance would have protected anyone who lost out on a vacation in most of these circumstances. Something I didn't know about travel insurance is that some policies offer a cancel for any reason provision. Should a disaster (whether viral or staffing related) occur, you would be covered if you decided to pull the plug on your upcoming trip. Notably, this is also a good option if you are unsure about the future. Do you have a big opportunity at work and you are not sure if you will be able to take your vacation, this would be the right safeguard for you.

  4. Plan a trip domestically

    If you have not planned your trip yet you could always consider a domestic destination instead. There are lots of opportunities that you could take advantage of right here in the States. Do you want to go on a cruise? American Cruise lines offers a variety of itineraries on legendary American waterways. The Pride of America, operated by Royal Caribbean, is the only Hawaiian cruise that does not dock in a foreign country. Between national parks, museums, and cities to explore, there is a lot to do that does not require a passport.

  5. Expedited Service

    For an additional fee, you can shave up to a month and a half off of the processing time for a passport. If you find yourself traveling in the next two and a half months, this is your best option. For us, this seems as though it would be extremely stressful but, if you have failed to follow our advice by applying early, this may be your only choice.

  6. Bonus Tip

    When traveling with children, especially on cruises, their travel requirements will differ from those of adults. In the post 9/11 world, there was a time that children required passports as well (which sucks as they expire in five years instead of ten). On our recent Disney Cruise, children under a certain age only required proof of identity. Our son's birth certificate worked just fine for him.

  7. In Person Service

    Okay, so your honeymoon trip to the Dominican Republic is in half a month and with all the excitement of the impending nuptials, you forgot to apply for your passport. There is one last option that may just save the day. In extreme cases, you can apply for a passport in person. The closest locations to those living in Missouri are Hot Springs Arkansas or Chicago Illinois. You must call and make an appointment and then attend that appointment in person to get a passport issued quickly. The site notes that they offer two types of service: Life and Death and Urgent Travel Service. In a case like this, it really is hard to tell which one would be more appropriate.

Passport delays can be scary. While a travel agent can't get your passport for you, most are very familiar with the system and will be more than happy to help you figure out what travel documents you need and how best to get them. Working with a travel agent to book your trip is free so the peace of mind giving knowledge that comes along with their service is just a bonus. If you follow these tips, hopefully your next international trip will be a bit less stressful.