Q. Who needs a passport?
A. Any U.S. citizen who plans to exit and/or return to the United States by air. Minors age 16 or younger can present evidence of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate when returning from Canada or Mexico by land. A passport is not required for reentry when traveling on a closed-loop cruise.
Q. Does a baby need a passport?
A. Yes. An infant, even a newborn, must possess a passport if the child will be taken outside the U.S.
Q. How long does it take to get a passport?
A. Standard processing takes up to 6 weeks, 8 weeks or more depending on the demand at the time you apply. Expediting a passport at an acceptance facility (new) or by mail (renewal) takes 2-3 weeks. Emergency passports can be processed at regional centers. Processing at these locations can take up to 8 business days. Same day passport service is available under certain circumstances.
Q. When should I apply for a passport renewal?
A. It is recommended that you begin the application process to renew your passport approximately 9 months before it expires although the application can be submitted at any time. Passports issued to applicants age 16 or older can be renewed by mail up to 5 years after the expiration date.
Q. Do I need a passport to cruise?
A. No. A passport is not needed to cruise on a closed-loop cruise (a cruise beginning and ending from a U.S. port). However, I do recommend for my clients to get a passport card. You can obtain more information on this card by visiting the U.S. Dept. of state @ http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html
Q. I’ve never cruised before, what type of cabin should I book?
A. I always suggest first timers go with an inside cabin. Its usually the least expensive and allows you to reduce the viewing/feeling of the ocean, in the event you get motion sickness.
Q. Can I take this-or-that item in my carry-on?
A. Since 2006, the Transportation Security Administration has limited “wet” substances to 3.4 ounces in one quart-size plastic zip-top bag. The restriction covers liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes, with an exception for travelers needing larger quantities of medications, baby formula/food and breast milk for the flight.
Q. What are some common items seasoned travelers take with them?
A. Don’t forget a small power strip—ideal for sharing a crowded outlet in an airport, and a simple way to keep all devices close by once at a hotel. (Combine that with a Zolt—which powers a laptop and two devices with a charger the size of a lipstick—and it’s even handier.) Keep a photograph of your luggage and passport on your smartphone; lose either of them, and you’ll be grateful for the reference. Pack a scarf—always.
Q. What’s the best way to sleep on a plane?
A. Pre-flight exercise and a few drops of lavender essential oil.
Q. What are the best airport hacks?
A. Download the GateGuru app before your next trip: It shows maps and amenities for any terminal, so you can better plan where to eat lunch or whether you can arrive early for a quick manicure. Don’t forget that Zolt charger we mentioned earlier, so your phone doesn’t die before takeoff. And, of course, sign up for Global Entry.
Q. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?
A. They’re both a boon to frequent travelers but Global Entry is preferred, which costs only $15 more than TSA PreCheck and will likely automatically generate the latter most times you check in for a domestic flight.