Passport pet peeve (and a travel tip)

I just added additional pages to my passport. I suppose, overall, it’s a good thing that we’ve traveled enough internationally that I think I might need extra pages. But paying whopping fees for additional pages because border control agents tend to stamp pages willy-nilly really irks me! Here’s the thing: there are grids on each page. Stamps are supposed to indicate when/where you entered a foreign territory and then when you returned to your country of residence–and they’re supposed to sit beside each other! Visas often require full pages and, more often than not, there are requirements about how many consecutive pages you must have blank to get one. For example, we need two consecutive blank pages for our entry visa when we arrive in Bali. I happen to have exactly two such pages remaining, but I also have quite a few where Homeland Security has stashed a stray re-entry stamp, multiple pages away from its partner. We’re traveling through Germany and then Thailand before we get to Bali so I’m thinking it’s too risky to expect that the agents (well, maybe not the ones in Germany if stereotypes persist) will stick to the grids and steer clear of those two remaining, consecutive pages.

Okay, slightly persnickety, and possibly dull travel rant over. But seriously! What is the deal? We have to be so careful with these documents; is it really too much to ask that they stamp them in sequential order?

Lesson learned (and passed on): pay upfront for the extra pages if you plan to travel internationally often, and check visa/page requirements early in your travel planning to avoid expedited-service fees.

[Image of very orderly EU stamps via Chris Guillebeau, The Art of the Non-Comformist’s The Hidden Messages of Passport Stamps]

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