You know the phrase: Just do it. It’s a marketing catchall, but it’s never more important than now if you’re even considering travel to one of the many international LGBT events that fill the calendar each year.
So stop putting it off. “Someday” has arrived.
There’s no reason for every adventurous, fun seeking gay traveler to have the ability to spontaneously go anywhere in the world. You never know when the opportunity will come your way, but you must be ready to seize the experience. If you don’t have a passport, get one now. Without one, you could miss a last-minute invitation to the Cannes Film Festival, Get Ruff! Leather Pride Weekend or Gay Whistler Ski Week.
If you already have a passport, check to make sure you have at least six months before it expires. You will face travel restrictions, scrutiny and more than just the once over at airline security if you don’t. Renew it now and consider getting the optional passport card.
First-time applicants go to U.S. government and fill out the paperwork. Then submit your paperwork in person at a local passport agency. The only part that requires action is getting your picture taken in the prescribed format. Quick copy places, many U.S. Post Office and even your computer can help with that.
You have the option of applying for a Passport card ($45) or a book ($110). The card gets you into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. But the passport card cannot be used for international travel by air. Consider getting both.
The processing time for a new book and card is right at four weeks. Expedited applications run about a week for an additional $60. Your passport expires after 10 years and renewals are inexpensive—$20 for the card and $75 for the book. If you do not have your birth certificate for proof of citizenship, you’ll cough up an additional $60 for a file search.
Don’t forget to update your passport if you change your name. New and more flexible passport regulations were recently put in place for transgender travelers. Gone is the requirement that reassignment surgery precede a passport gender change. A June 2010 federal ruling states “when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender.”
What if you are cruising in Alaska or along the New England coast – do you need a passport? Yes and no. If you stay on the ship when it docks in Canada, you’ll be fine without one. But should an emergency occur and you need a hospital or quick flight home and Canada is closer, you will not be able to disembark until you get back to the U.S.
The bottom line: Don’t even ask if you need a passport. Just get one. With all of the discounted travel around the world these days, why not be ready for a new experience? “I’d love to fly to Rio with you, but I need a passport first” is simply not an acceptable answer when that invitation comes.
A funny thing usually happens when your passport arrives in the mail—an overseas adventure is right around the corner. Just do it.
Photos courtesy Gay Travel and Entre-Nous Network