Everyone knows that traveling out of the country costs money. Airfare, rental cars, hotels or AirBnBs, restaurants, excursions, etc. One cost people may not consider (like me) is getting passports for the family. We have a family of five, which means even a trip to IHOP costs a lot…I should have known getting passports for 5 people would cost more than pancakes – I just didn’t know it would cost a hundred times more than pancakes…
I made an appointment for all of us to get passports online and it gave me an estimated cost of $275. Ok, that sounds reasonable, I thought. I made my kids shower and pick out clothes the night before. I showered, blow dried my hair, used a straight iron, and then curled it (easy breezy beach waves are not easy, no matter what anyone says.) I want to look glamorous while traveling, if only in my passport picture. The morning comes, we dress, touch up hair, apply lip gloss, come paperwork in hand, ready to be world travelers. We knock. It felt like OZ in the abandoned and usually busy post office. Nobody answered. We knocked three more times and a lady in sensible shoes and a crisply ironed baby blue shirt with a name tag that said “Laurie” opened the door while simultaneously glaring at us. My oldest daughter had to pee. (Side note: One of us ALWAYS has to pee, and it is usually an emergency.) I asked where the bathroom was and she glared again. I get it. We’re a pain in the ass. But it’s for my DAUGHTER, I say, and she looks at my cute daughter and agrees to take her. We thank her incessantly. I’m not above groveling to make things go better.
Laurie is all business, but extremely good at her job. She reads over the applications, tells me when she needs a birth certificate or an ID, what I missed on the application, where to sign, what amounts I need to make each check out for. No wonder she doesn’t have time to do bathroom runs. I’m sorry for our bladder problems, Laurie. Passports for a family of five took one hour and 30 minutes. It also cost $710. The $275 was just for photo and processing fees.
My advice to you guys is figure out when you need the passports by. Take one or two kids at a time. Or do the adults first. Just know that each application takes a long-time and cost $160/adult and $130/child under 16. Also, they don’t take credit cards. Bring a checkbook (it’s not obvious online when you set up an appointment). You have to write a check for each passport, and then one for the photo and processing fees. I can’t imagine what a pain it would be to go through all of that and not have enough checks. Also, better to do it earlier, rather than later. I was told that passports are taking longer than normal. They keep everyone’s original birth certificates or previous passports until they process the passports. If your kid has to do something like Driver’s Ed (like mine) make sure and get a copy of his/her birth certificate and evidence that the original is being held for passport purposes. I’m no world traveler, but I’m learning as I go, and I’m ALL for sharing the important information! Travel on friends!