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No. of Recommendations: 1
I made a huge mistake. I haven't applied for a passport in 20 years, and I haven't flown on a plane since before 9/11, so I guess I didn't really understand how complicated traveling is these days.

I don't think it takes any longer to get a passport than it ever did. (I got my current passport a month or so after 9/11 - a new one, not a renewal) and it came in about 4 weeks. I'm surprised that anyone would leave something as important as a passport to what is literally the last minute since it's such a basic part of trip planning.

If you have an old passport you should take it with you when you apply. I certainly agree with the others that you should go ahead and pay the fee for expedited handling and consider it a learning experience.

When you get the passports, make a copy of the page with the pictures and keep the copies separate from the passports. I keep my passport in the room safe and carry the copy with me. Further, the copy will be invaluable if the passport is lost or stolen.

One last thing since you haven't travelled for a while: Don't take traveler's checks -- they're hard to cash and there's almost always (always?) a fee. Take your ATM card and before you go, change your PIN to 4 digits. You'll get local currency and there's an ATM on almost every corner.

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