VIRGIN GALACTIC HERALDS ‘THE YEAR OF THE SPACESHIP’ WITH THE UNVEILING OF THE DESIGNS OF SPACESHIPTWO AND WHITE KNIGHT TWO
You’ve done the crossword puzzle; Sudoku is not your thing; you’ve anesthetized yourself on Bejeweled; now what?
Warning label: Play at your own risk. Side effects include: improving the health of those who are malnurished; increasing your vocabulary; doing something for others while playing a game; inner satisfaction of being able to contribute to life.
You may recall the fiasco that ensued when people suddenly realized they needed to have a passport to travel to destinations that previously only required a certified birth certificate, etc. Our Senators and Representatives even had appointed staff members whose sole function was to assist you in expediting your passport application through the issuance process. Next, Congress delayed the implementation date of the new law requiring valid US Passports for travel in the Western Hemisphere by auto or ship. Anyone traveling by air has needed a passport for quite some time.
Now Congress and the Department of Homeland Security are at it again. The latter wants the law implemented some time this summer while the former slipped some verbiage into an omnibus spending bill requesting the law not go into effect until June, 2009. Now, add in the reaction of the countries/islands you are planning to visit and you get total confusion. Many small Caribbean countries are unaware of the proposed delays and are currently requiring travelers to carry a valid US Passport. In short, you can get several different “opinions” on whether you’ll need a passport for your travel and the catch is that this is not a multiple choice test.
I can assure you from experience that within the US and in countries abroad I’ve received different answers to what seemed to be simple questions. For example, when flying internationally, how many carryon bags can a person bring? Oh, and what constitutes a carryon bag? Since the suspected bomb assembly scare occurred in London, the Brits have banned travelers from carrying more than one “carryon” (Is a purse a carryon? It depends on the agent checking you through security, the agent checking your boarding pass, etc). Now we are allowed to carry 2 bags in Great Britain. The problem is that sometimes these changes in law don’t filter to the “Powers that be” at airports who actually can keep you from boarding a plane.
I’ve heard people explain that they aren’t planning to leave the US in the foreseeable future. If I could accurately foresee the future, I’d pick next Saturday’s Powerball numbers and retire! Why wait until you’re ready for a vacation outside the US, then find that you need a passport and because of the beaurocratic nightmare of the passport process, you won’t be able to secure one?
Other things to consider for those of you smugly gloating because you already have a passport: When does your passport expire? Most countries require you to carry a passport that is valid for AT LEAST six months after your travel dates. How many blank pages do you have in your passport? Many countries require Visas and that you present a certain number of BLANK Visa pages in your passport.
So, do yourself a favor—get a Passport or renew your Passport today!