Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Travel with your passport ... and a charger!

Several months ago I lost my passport. Fortunately, I found it two weeks ago, buried beneath a pile of papers in a desk drawer.

If you haven't heard, the deadline for passports for folks traveling by air in the Western Hemisphere is today, January 23, 2007.

There has been plenty of controversy surrounding it, as is reflected in this article from MSMBC.

Trust me, it's a hassle living without a passport.

On three occasions when my passport was "lost," I went to Canada.

Not only did I have to obtain a copy of my birth certificate to accompany my driver's license, I felt like I was being scrutinized more intensely than when I carried my passport.

And then there's the high security at the Amtrak station in Vancouver, BC.

Several weeks ago, while returning from Vancouver to Everett aboard the 6 PM train, I was given the thrice over during the pre-boarding screening process.

The big problem? I couldn't turn on my laptop as requested -- the battery had died. And of course I didn't bring my charger with me.

"Why would you bring your laptop with you without your battery?" asked an official.

"Well, because I had several hours of work to do, and it was still charged," I replied.

He wasn't letting me off easy, saying I would somehow have to plug it in and show him what was on there.

Note: My last hassle with my laptop was also at Amtrak in Vancouver, when one of the agents questioned my "lack of icons" on my screen.

"I have a Mac, it's not PC friendly," I said.

After mumbling and grumbling, he sent me over to a table and told me to open it up.

"I really don't think it's an issue," I said.

That really got to him and after chatting with his colleagues, he let me pass to board the train.

So always travel with your passport. Always take your laptop charger. And make sure you have plenty of icons.

And if you are traveling to Canada, read more about the air and land requirements on about.com.


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