Your Passport to International Travel – Everything You Need to See the World

Your United States passport is valid in every country on Earth with only one exception (North Korea). Beyond that singular limitation, passports open borders when coming or going, enable you to seek government assistance wherever you are in the world, and can last for an entire decade before renewal. For jetsetters of all stripes, a US passport is a powerful tool.

As the world reopens, international travel is on the table once more. Though it poses plenty of challenges, few destinations are as rewarding or educational as those farthest away from home—well beyond the scope of our own culture, boundaries, and lives. In this way, passports are more than mere travel documents. Passports are keys that open the door to the rest of the world.

If you’re planning on international travel, you won’t get far without your passport. Here are a few pointers and reminders for all of us with international aspirations.

Renewing Your Passport

For many of us, the next step after finding our passports is renewing our passports. Unfortunately, recent demand for passport renewal has surpassed the State Department’s capacity. Hardly a quick process in the best of times, passport renewals are now seeing delays like never before. What was a 2-3 week process may now take upwards of 18 weeks and include additional fees. 

To give yourself the best chance of international travel in 2021, the time for passport renewal is NOW. Passports do not have to expire before being renewed, but beware that renewal may take more time than you can spare. In any case, renewing your passport can be done in person or by mail, depending on your situation.

For more information about renewing in person, click here.

For more information about renewing by mail, click here.

It’s important to remember that the renewal process starts once your application has been received, not once it’s been sent. You can check the status of your application online here.

Passport Cards

Since 2008, travelers have had a second option for international travel: the passport card. The passport card is a sleek, wallet-friendly alternative to the traditional booklet and can serve as both a primary and secondary form of identification when traveling abroad. 

Passport cards aren’t quite the same as passport booklets, however. While they may be more convenient than booklets, they’re somewhat less powerful overall. Passport cards can grant you entry to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, but only by land crossings (such as a border) or by maritime ports of entry (such as traveling abroad by cruise ship or boat). Passport cards cannot be used for international air travel by themselves. To travel internationally by air, you will need a passport booklet.


International travel is a modern marvel of global human cooperation. The more we get out to experience far flung lands, people, food, and culture, the more our own understanding of the human experience deepens. We are enriched by travel—the farther, the better! But we won’t be going anywhere without our passports.

If you plan on traveling internationally this year, or anytime in the immediate future, don’t wait one more day to send your passport renewal application. Stay safe, check local health and safety guidelines domestically and internationally, and most importantly, cherish the opportunities and memories you make! Welcome back to the world!

Start your international trip at South Bend! 

No matter what destination you have in mind or what language your mobile app is teaching you, a US passport is your ticket to adventure. With a US passport at your side, the world is your oyster. Don’t wait until it’s too late or have your much-anticipated travel hopes dashed by long renewal waits. Send your application today so that you fly the wide blue skies tomorrow! For more information on ID requirements or passports, visit

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