Sunday, March 29, 2009

Getting Ready for the Trip....

NOTE TO SELF: Check your passport renewal date Several Months before your travel date.

Two days before we have to leave, I decide to get my binder of Important Papers to be sure I had everyone's passports. I do not know what made me open mine but I opened and looked and discovered, to my horror, that my passport had expired in JANUARY. This happened on Friday the 13th, two days before we were supposed to leave. I had wondered what Friday the 13th was going to drop on me and I found out at 6:00 AM. Fortunately, that was early enough to take action.

While I was panicking and berating myself for not having checked my passport earlier, Bill found the address of the State Dept passport office downtown. This information is well hidden because they want you do go to a post office or renew by mail but Bill found it anyway. I am so lucky that he is the calm collected one in the relationship. I RUSHED the kids to school and then went downtown to beg for passport renewal.

I had everything together but the photos. Due to my poor planning, I could not get passport photos at CVS for $7.99 and instead had to pay $25 at the the passport photo place conveniently located next to the passport agency (and open at 8:00 am). By the time I had my photo taken, the line at the passport agency was nearly out the door. A woman at the photo place told me I had to have an appointment to talk with anyone there. I had no appointment because the appointment system on the phone didn't work (and I am sure one was not available anyway). Then I notice the Passport Expediting sign.....

So for an extra $150, the photo place would take my passport application upstairs next door and would have them renew it THAT DAY. This was WAY cheaper than trying to change my flight so I paid up. I came back at 4:30 as instructed to pick up my passport and had to wait, double parked, for 90 minutes. At 6:00, much to my relief, I had my new passport in hand! And I did not get a parking ticket. So Friday the 13th didn't end so terribly.

But it was a dreadful way to spend my day. What if I hadn't checked my passport until Saturday? What if we'd gotten to the airport and I couldn't go? It is one thing to manage my own expectations and disappointment but the kids, even Lyra, are old enough to be mad at Mommy for screwing up the trip and I would not have wanted to try to manage THAT.

PHEW. I had a lucky break. So , go on, check your passport expiration date right now! Some places won't let you travel if it is going to expire within 6 months of your travel date so don't wait until the last minute. Surely Obama can create a job or two by requiring the State Department to remind you to renew your passport six months before it expires.

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