An Ode To My Passport

I’ve had this friend for the past ten years of my life; well not so much a friend, but a companion. A companion that has been with me through all sorts of adventures and explorations that have taken me to the ends of the world to all but two continents. It’s taken me to the bottom of the world, to the sands of the Middle East, to the backstreets of Macau, and so many other places. Unfortunately, it’s that time where I need to renew my passport and replace my trusted sidekick with a new one, one that will get me through the next decade of my life and some amazing new travels that I am starting to plan and those that I don’t even know that are coming yet.

My Trusted Companion

This was my first passport which I got in late 2004 as I was getting ready to go to Italy with my Latin class in the summer of 2005. I had left the country once before, to Canada, but that was in the time where one simply could drive across the border with very little documentation. It’s funny in that as a Kid, I didn’t even see Canada as a foreign country. I remember that border crossing and it being nothing and it being so like America, just with Tim Hortons everywhere. Eventually, as an adult with my passport already getting into it’s “senior years”, I visited Montreal to ring in 2012. My impressions of that country changed, and I found myself back in that great city in May 2013. My passport got me there.

My First Passport Stamp Was Actually A Departure Stamp From Italy (Rome)

More importantly, my passport took me overseas on my first “big” solo trip in my sophomore year at the University of Central Florida. Being a kid who was raised in Panama City Beach, affectionately known as the Spring Break capital of the world, I bucked the trend of going home or to another similar destination. With airfares to Europe in 2008 being extremely cheap thanks to the economy, I booked a trip to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and the Netherlands for a little over $500. I had traveled alone before, but this was my first time alone outside the country and what a great exposure it was! I got hooked on earning points and miles and next thing I knew, I had found myself the following year flying back to Europe for Spring Break hitting London, Paris, and Germany as well as getting to fly in international Business Class for the first time.

My senior year of college I couldn’t make an international spring break happen, but once I graduated I knew I had to go bury my head in the sand while I decided whether or not to accept a job offer. With five days notice, I had booked a trip to Australia for about $1000. I came back a from Sydney deciding to take the job offer and continued to plot travels now that I had “engineer’s money.”

The following year I found myself in Japan for a vacation, of which while I was there the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurred. Thankfully I was in the south of the country where the bulk of the devastation occurred, however I did find myself feeling the aftershocks in Tokyo a few days later as I tried to get back to the US.

Australia….and Japan

2012, if I were to say, was probably the most interesting year for me for international travels on my passport. I started the year in Montreal, then a few weeks later found myself in the Middle East via Europe, and then back to Europe in December to see a different side of Europe (and explore all the Christmas Markets!).

O Canada!

2013, as I mentioned earlier, took me back to Montreal, where it really hit me how much I love that city. Over my Thanksgiving holiday, since I had done a lot of work travel that year, I took a vacation to the opposite side of the world again, this time to both Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong, like Montreal became an instant favorite of mine and I can’t wait to go back someday (hopefully soon), while Macau surprised me as being so much more than I expected – something I think I only found out because I stayed for two nights in the territory as opposed to the standard day trip from Hong Kong.

Liechtenstein Hides Behind Hong Kong

This year resulted in the final journey for my passport; in celebration of my 26th birthday, I flew to South America. A new continent and two new countries, Chile and Argentina.t I would eventually make my way to the “end of the world” or at least as close as possible with out spending $10,000 in Ushuaia.

The Final Stamps…

The journeys I took with on this passport opened me up to the world and probably from time to time changed my outlook on life and other things. I’ve found myself a few times on my journeys and that wouldn’t have been possible with out it. Of course, it’s this passport and that first trip to Italy that caused me to be stricken with wanderlust; if I had never got it and never taken that trip, who knows if the world would have been opened up to me. Perhaps I would have been someone who says “I want to go to there” versus being the person that I am now having been to five continents and 20 unique countries (19 if you don’t count transiting Brazil for four hours) for approximately 30 different visits. The only thing that was terrible about this? Most of the European countries that I’ve visited never had the pleasure of stamping my passport thanks to Schengen Agreement and the removal of border formalities between nations. Along with several other stamps that I “missed out on” resulted in not quite filling my passport. That and every-freaking-country deciding to stamp the first page in my passport regardless of the amount of available space.

Seriously, How Many Stamps Can You Put On One Page

So with all that said, it’s time to say goodbye as I prepare my renewal application. I went and got the required photos today printed to be included in the application and I am about to send it off. Just need to write that check to the US Department of State, so that I can get my new companion here quickly. I’ll be springing for the passport card too, although I don’t see that really being beneficial for me at this time. With that being said, there’s going to be a few weeks where I am going to be passport-less. It’s going to be a strange, strange feeling…

It’s Time For A New Photo Anyways

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