I’ve been out of the country once, but I’ve never had a passport.
But all that doesn’t matter now because, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the very proud owner of a US Passport.
It’s probably not as exciting as I’m making it out to be, but it felt like Christmas Day when I opened my mailbox and saw a package from the government. I couldn’t even wait until I got inside the house before I tore into the package in the middle of the street. It’s completely empty right now, but I’ve been thumbing through it daily with a goofy grin like a teenage boy reading Playboy for the first time. I’m a strange individual.
This is it, though. This is my real ticket to the ends of the Earth. I have nothing holding me back from exploring the world.
I’m really surprised with how quickly the process went. After a year of planning to apply, I finally pulled the trigger and submitted all my documents around three weeks ago. I’ve heard stories about passports taking months to process, and I didn’t expect to see mine in the mailbox within the month-long estimate they give you.
It’s a really fascinating document, too. I know almost every country has a standard for passports, but I’ve got to admit that our United States booklet is pretty cool. It’s very Americana with its US-specific artwork and quotes. I spent a good half hour studying the traveler data page with all the intricate fraud-proof designs.
Doing some research, I found that passports actually have some neat features for security. Since 2007, the US has been issuing “e-passports,” which have a chip containing the traveler’s information, a biometric identifier (photo image for facial recognition), a unique ID number and a digital signature that verifies the authenticity and prevents data alterations. The cover alone is supposedly a strong enough vault to prevent information from being stolen.
I’m always fascinated with stories about counterfeits and fraud (one of my all-time favorite movies is Catch Me If You Can), but I’d be really impressed to hear about someone making fake passports — I’m sure it’s not a farfetched idea; there are some sneaky and talented people out there.
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten over this hurdle, my Brazilian Spring Break is becoming more and more of a reality. I’ve also recently purchased Lonely Planet’s Brazil travel guide to prep and plan my trip. A friend of mine highly recommended LP’s travel books for any journey and right now they’re having a special half-off sale for all of their eBooks. I bought my copy for about $20 but it’s only $10.50 right now (MSRP $29.99), so act fast!
That’s just a recommendation. Unfortunately, I am not sponsored by LP… yet (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).