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The Passport Sitch

So, I had to get a new passport this year, which I had known for a while, as I recall noting it when I went to the U.K. last year. But then I forgot. And then I was dreading it. You know the hassle: the paperwork, living without it for weeks, and I don’t know. But just getting it renewed seemed like a mighty burden. Then again, if I didn’t get it done soon, I might not be able to get out of the country for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back INTO the country. To complicate matters, I had not one, but two international trips to navigate, which all meant that I had better get my passport renewed and fast.

The passport rules actually state that some countries won’t accept your passport unless it is valid for over six months from the date you arrive. I pushed it in Tanzania and Rwanda, but fortunately I squeaked out of both with my imminent expiration undetected. I returned stateside in late June. I was tired. July came and I downloaded the form for renewal and that was, by the way, a really expedient way to get this process started!

My departure at the end of September loomed and yet still I hadn’t sent in my precious passport for renewal. After all, it had been with me to Firenze, Roma, Milano, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Nairobi, Ixtapa, Sayulita, Barbuda, Tortola, Scotland and so many other wonderful places! And yet, if I wanted to make it on my trip to Chile, I was going to have to get this process going.

At long last, with not a day to spare, I put my passport in the mail and sent it off. I crossed my fingers that it would return to me in time.

Could I have paid more money to have it expedited? Yes.

Could I have waited in line at the passport agency to have my passport renewed in front of me? Yes.

Of course, if I had been a good little traveler, I would have gotten my passport well before May and I would never have fretted for an instant. But my life being busy as it is… that just didn’t happen. Learn from me. Take heed.

If you’re headed to Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda or Canada by air in 2007, you have to be thinking about all of this, too. Because, my friends, the passport rules are a-changin‘. After January 23, when traveling by air, you won’t be able to get back into the country without a valid U.S. passport. Some people say that the best part of traveling is coming home – so make sure you can.


My name: Amy is my name, but I'll answer to Ame, Ames or Aimee.

How I earn my keep: My beat is travel, but my passion is collecting stories from people I meet on the road.

Hotel I could move into: Must I pick only one?! The Palacio Duhau a Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires tops my list. For the stunning restoration of the palace and tasteful new tower that create a thoughtful intersection of old and new. Every public and private space captivates. I'd move for the grand Alvear entry as much as for the manicured garden. For the wine and cheese tastings, the dulce de leche, the art gallery, the flower shop and for all the careful attention to detail that went into creating a hotel that is transcendent. If I were to pick a hotel that most felt like me, it would be The Inn at the Manor in the Cotswolds. Oh, I could definitely live there curled up with a book in a leather chair in the bar or outside among the English wildflowers. If I wanted to live in a land far away, the Ngoro Ngoro Crater Lodge would make a unique home with a view of the crater floor from every room (including the loo!), sumptuous beds, endless roses and the most unusual neighbors - massive water buffalo who won't bother you if you stay close to your Maori guide.

If I won the lottery, I'd live in: A historic farmhouse with an enormous barn and hundreds of acres tucked into a small town in New England or a Malibu beach house with stunning views and the surf just steps away. On second thought, winning the lottery means I could jet from coast to coast and enjoy them both.

Favorite way to get around: By foot. Whether in the city or country, I find the best way to get to know someplace is ambling around to discover and sample the distinct sights, sounds, smells, and tastes a place has to offer.

View that took my breath away: Looking toward the sky in Arusha and watching black and white Colobus monkeys scramble among the treetops, jumping from one tree to the next, floating through the sky like a primate version of Superman. Monkeys know how to have a good time!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: The place I visited last. What can I say? I'm fickle.

Follow me on twitter @amyziff


Darren Cronian

Is it true that 78% of American’s don’t own a passport? I suppose with such a vast country as the US, they are plenty of places to be visiting, before visiting Europe or further afield.


I guess I don’t understand all the fuss. Just get one and be done with it. Where I am concerned is that is cannot have less than 6 months to expiration to get into some countries. If it hasn’t expired, isn’t it still VALID?

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