1. Tomorrow, Saturday, September 17th is the third annual “Passport Day in the USA” hosted by the U.S. State Department! This means that any U.S. citizen can apply at their regional passport agency without making an appointment, and on a Saturday (a day they are normally closed). This is great for working families, students, and others interested in the many opportunities that travel abroad can offer. See the State Department’s website for more information and to find printable applications that can be completed in advance.
2. As of January 2007 you must have a passport to go anywhere outside of the United States. Post September 11, 2001 documentation regulation has become an increasing concern for traffic inside and outside of the United States. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative the requirements for foreign travel are more rigid than ever, including traveling within the North American continent.
3. Because NOT everyone is doing it! According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are currently 312,226,000 U.S. citizens. Of those 300 million, the U.S. Department of State finds that (as of 2011) roughly 102,184,000 people have valid passports in circulation. Based on the math I acquired in the 2nd grade (so please don’t quote me on this) less than one-third (32.7%) of the living U.S. population has a valid passport today. As you can see in the graph below, the past three years show a decline in the number of annually issued passports. Why do you think this is? Due to what we learned in reason two, two-thirds of the U.S. population cannot leave the country–not even to eat tacos in Tijuana. Do you predict the numbers will start to rise with our ever-globalizing world? Or will Americans continue to only dream about going bob-sledding in Nova Scotia, eh?
4. You are lucky to have open travel options. As citizens of
America, one of our Constitutional rights is to own and make use of a
passport. This is not the case for every citizen of the world. Several
countries have limitations on where their citizens are permitted to
travel while a few countries, such as North Korea, actually forbid
citizens from outside travel.
5. Traveling abroad is an amazing opportunity for furthering your education!
One of my favorite life mottoes is that, “travel is my anecdote to
ignorance”. Seeing new places, learning foreign languages, and absorbing
the essence of other cultures can not only add meaning to your personal
life but can also teach you many lessons absent within your comfort
zone. I challenge you all to take the first step this Saturday; get your
passport, and start looking forward to your next great adventure.
–Julia from My Wonderful World