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Passport Perfect?

Passport Perfect?

Passport by jordan madrid/ unsplash

The tiny rip that nearly cost me my flight.

Passport by geojango maps /unsplash
Passport by Geojango Maps/Unsplash

Passport Perfect? The tiny rip that nearly cost me my flight.

By Melissa Hoyer

At times we forget how very, very important that holy grail of documents – our passport – really is.

Without it your travel plans can be derailed just like *that*, as mine nearly were on a trip to the United States.

My departure morning started innocently enough. With eight months left on my passport and a four day work trip to the US, my passport was due for its ten year renewal at the end of December. All good.

A rip van winkle covid passport sleep

Passport by mana/unsplash
Passport by Mana/Unsplash

I’d left it in its usual safe spot, within a special little leather folder holder where it had a Rip Van Winkle-inspired Covid sleep, following a crazily solid global nudge the years before the pandemic.

Like me, it hadn’t been anywhere exotic so I didn’t notice what was ultimately pointed out to me once at Sydney airport – a 1.5cm tear on the spine of the passport – on the page of my details and picture.

Every single number and ID detail was still absolutely legible. But it was about The Small Rip (TSR).

Passport by convertkit/ unsplash
Passport by Convertkit/Unsplash

TSR first garnered a concerned look from a passport control officer at Sydney Airport. Customs kindly asked me to stand over ‘there’, while border security staff came to investigate, some suggesting I not fly as I could be turned away once I arrived. ‘Mate. they’re tough over there,’ said one, picturing myself surrounded by LA’s loveliest latex gloves and a film crew from ‘Border Security. The baddies.’

Anyway, I decided I had nothing to lose – apart from two days of plane travel (which I would actually love) so I bit the bullet and flew (much to the chagrin of one of the airport staff.)

Business class with Qantas

Once boarded, I avoided thinking about it in my very comfy business seat (I’d bitten the bullet with a points upgrade gift-to-self on my  Qantas flight) and arriving in LA went straight to the customs hall and landed a lovely American man, who noticed said TSR and reminded me how I was lucky to be potentially allowed in.

He had also noticed a few liquid stains too (probably a few water and wine stains) to be frank.

Passport by sergio rodriguez portugues del olmo unsplash
Passport by Sergio Rodriguez Portugues del Olmo/Unsplash

LA Customs officials

He stared at it for five seconds; stamped it; slid it back to me and I basically bolted.

Boy, did this all teach me a lesson! Most importantly – we NEED to keep passports in as pristine condition as possible: it’s a serious legal document.

I’ve then took the very immediate and important step of RENEWING my existing passport. But you know what. I will miss my old one and all its memories. Walking the Camino trail through Spain; a 48-hour trip to Japan; driving an Aston Martin on the Millbrook Driving Ground in UK; seeing the fam in the Czech Republic; island sojourns in Fiji, Bali and Tahiti; friends’ weddings and birthdays in the US, British Virgin Isles; the UK and New Zealand; a fashion styling job in Vietnam; work trips to Chile, India and Beijing and so it goes.

Passport by element5 digital/unsplash
Passport by Element5 digital/Unsplash

Every customs stamp brings back memories.

But it’s time to start afresh and legitimize my international self for another ten years with a pristine newbie, which I applied for online.

The price of a fast passport arrival

I paid the extra $255 for an expedited arrival, just in case a travel publication required me to zip off.

Time had come to treat my passport like I did my first born. And all-newborns. With absolute kid gloves.

Holidays by element5 digital/ unsplash
Holidays by element5 digital/Unsplash

And that, my friends, is a holiday tip to you.

Happy holidays!

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