Booking international trips can be so fun and exciting, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of mistakes travelers make when it comes to their passport. Your passport does not seem like a complicated thing, but trust me, it is.
I’ve seen it all – and it ends up being very costly, turns into a headache, unnecessary stress, and overwhelm. But the truth is, it can be easily avoidable by following these 16 passport tips and tricks that will save you time, money, and make your life and travel a whole lot easier.
Make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes and implement each tip and trick so you can have a trip of a lifetime and avoid unnecessary stress.
1. Check your expiration date.
The very first thing you need to do is to check your expiration date. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake people make and it can get very costly. Before planning a trip, make sure to check your passport expiration date.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure date leaving that country. Many countries require your passport to be valid for a certain amount of months and will deny entry if your passport does not meet those requirements. The reason why countries require a passport validation period is because they do not want to risk you overstaying your visa. If your plans change or if something were to happen to you and you had to stay longer in that country, this requirement helps you maintain a valid visa.
This seems so simple and easy to do, but too many times people forget to do this. I know numerous people having to cancel their trip because their passport was expired or was about to expire. Don’t make this costly mistake and just check your expiration date.
2. Renew early.
Renew early!! Renewing your passport takes time so make sure to renew your passport early. Right now, there is a huge wait time and delay in getting your passport renewed. If you need to, you can expedite your passport for a fee. Expediting your passport will still take time though. So make sure to give yourself an ample amount of time to renew your passport.
3. Ask for extra pages when you renew.
When you renew your passport, check to see if you can get additional blank passport pages. Depending on your country, it can be free. In the United States, it’s completely free and all you have to do is check a box to request extra blank pages. Americans have the ability to choose from a 28-page or a 52-page passport. I always recommend getting more blank pages if you can.
The reason why it is important to have extra blank pages in your passport is because a lot of countries require a certain amount of blank pages in your passport for valid entry. Some countries even require consecutive blank pages. If you are traveling a lot, having a lot of blank pages is really important to do as your passport will quickly fill up with visas and passport stamps. You do not want to get denied entry because of your passport pages. This happened to someone next to me in Zambia. He wasn’t allowed to board the plane because he didn’t have enough blank pages in his passport.
4. Get extra passport photos.
If you are long-term traveling or traveling for an extended time, you should always get extra passport photos. Make sure to bring them with you while you travel. When you are traveling on the go and don’t have an exact plan, you will most likely need to get a visa upon arrival at some point. Some visas require you to submit a passport photo with the application. When you carry extra passport photos, you can easily use that for your visa application instead of having to find a place to get your photo taken while you’re traveling.
5. Scan the passport photo.
While you’re still at home, make sure to scan the extra passport photo and save it to your computer or phone. This will come in handy when you are traveling on the go and have to apply for a visa online. Some countries require a passport photo when you apply for a visa. Usually, the required passport photo needs to meet certain dimensions of the photo. This way you already have a passport photo that meets the dimensions*, has the passport photo requirements, and you can easily update it to your visa application.
*make sure your photo dimensions meet the requirements to the country you’re applying to.
6. Double-check your information.
Always double, even triple-check your information. When you are flying or traveling somewhere, make sure the information you enter is correct. For example, in America, we write dates like month/day/year, whereas, in other countries, they use day/month/year. It is important to make sure your passport and any information you enter is correct. Some airlines will charge you a fee to make a change to the information that’s incorrect.
7. New passport = new visa.
Along with the previous tip to double-check the information that you enter, you should always make sure that the passport information you entered is still the same passport you will be using on your trip. For example, let’s say you buy your flight and enter your passport information for a trip you’re traveling to later in the year. During that time frame, you get a new passport. You need to make sure your new passport is updated with your visa (you might even need to apply for a new visa) and make sure your new passport information is updated with the airline as well.
8. See if you need a visa.
Before leaving on vacation, there are a lot of things you need to do before every international trip. One of them includes whether or not you need a visa to enter the country. Each country requires different requirements when entering the country. Check to see if you need a visa or any other entry requirements, like a certain vaccine, passport validity, etc.
Example of what requirements can look like for a country you’re traveling to:
9. Check the countries you’ve been to.
Some countries will not let you enter if you have traveled to a certain country within a certain amount of time. It is very important to monitor and see if there are any countries that you have recently been to that would deny your entry into the country you are traveling to.
For example, if you are traveling to some Middle Eastern countries and have an Israeli stamp, you might not be allowed to enter the country. If that is the case, then you should look into the next tip, tip #10: apply for a second passport.
This tip to check the countries you’ve been to is not exclusive to the Israel/Middle East situation, but it also applies to visiting other countries that have high viruses, diseases, etc. Usually, you can still enter the country if you’ve traveled somewhere that is banned, but only after a certain time frame.
10. Apply for a second passport.
If your country allows this and you meet the requirements, you may be eligible for a second passport. For example, if a country will deny a visa or entry because your passport has stamps showing travel from other countries, such as an Israeli stamp will not allow you to enter in some Middle Eastern countries. Or if you need multiple visas on an ongoing basis, you might be eligible for a second passport.
11. Get a RFID-protecting passport holder.
This is an important tip that a lot of people, unfortunately, do not do. Scammers are very smart and their ways of stealing your information have become very creative. Passports and some credit cards have RFID chips that transmit information wirelessly. The essential things you need to pack for traveling include an RFID-blocking product.
Make sure to get an RFID-protecting passport holder so you can safely store your passport and protect your information from getting wirelessly stolen.
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12. Guard your blank pages.
If you are running low on your blank pages, don’t be afraid to ask the officer if they will stamp on a specified page. A lot of times the officers just open a random page and stamp your passport. They tend to be careless where they’re stamping in the passport which then results in them using up more of your blank passport pages. So don’t be afraid to ask and guard your blank pages!
13. Make copies.
Before leaving for your trip, you should always make a colored copy (or a few) of your passport. Having a copy of your passport is great if you want to carry it instead of your actual physical passport and in case of an emergency. I always recommend carrying the copy paper of the passport so you minimize the risk of getting your actual passport stolen.
You should also leave the colored copy of your passport at home with someone you trust.
14. Take a picture or scan your passport.
Take a picture of your passport and carry the picture on your phone. Save your picture of your passport in a folder so you can easily access it when you need it. This helps a lot when I am filling out forms or need my passport information really quickly. This also helps if you need to submit a picture of your passport for a visa application or for anything else.
15. Sign up for any programs.
If you’re from America, you need to sign up for a program called Global Entry. It is a program “that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.” – CBP. You need to apply for it, pay a fee, undergo a background check, and have an in-person interview in order to get approved. Some credit cards will pay for your Global Entry fee as a credit card benefit.
If you are from a different country, see if your country has a similar program.
Programs like Global Entry, are a great way to get back into your home country and skip the long lines.
16. Protect your passport like it’s your life.
Your passport is the most important thing you will ever bring with you while traveling. You need to guard that thing like it’s your life. Do not put your passport in your pocket or in places that can easily be stolen. It is an absolute nightmare if you have to replace your passport while you’re traveling.
Not only should you protect your passport from getting stolen, but you also need to also protect the physical passport itself. Some countries will not accept your passport if it is bent, has ripped pages, has a bunch of stickers on it, if it’s messy, has wear and tear, etc. You need to protect your passport as if it’s your most prized possession. Handle your passport with extra love and care.
Traveling can get hectic, but if you follow these 16 tips, your travel experience will be a lot less stressful when it comes to your passport. Your passport is so important so make sure to implement these tips so you do not make any of these mistakes.
These 16 passport tips and tricks will save you time, money, and make your life a whole lot easier.
What tips are you going to implement soon? Comment below!
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