News of natural disasters or political violence in other countries leaves most people simply shaking their heads. However, for some travelers, bad news in an otherwise attractive travel destination means that it’s time to double-check the expiration date on your passport.

Why would you want to travel to an area that’s experiencing difficulties? Most people choose to stay home or go somewhere else when conditions in a particular destination are less than ideal, which means that you can often score excellent deals on hotels and flights. For example, when the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler covered the topic, they interviewed  Jeff Waldman, a California man who hopes that the political unrest in Thailand can help him snag a cheap vacation there. To Mr. Waldman, it’s all a question of risks vs. benefits:

“If Thailand erupted into civil war tomorrow, I don’t think that I’d be going. But a few little protests that are scaring off some of the less-risky travelers? I’ll absolutely take advantage of that.”

There’s no doubt that you can save money, but is it right to take advantage? What’s the difference between bargain-hunting and profiting from the misfortunes of others? Really, it depends on the situation. For example, spending money in Mexico during the H1N1 scare could actually have been beneficial, as long as you chose a time and an area of the country that was not severely affected and overwhelmed by large numbers of sick people. The economic crisis in Greece is also fair game.  In general, according to the Frugal Traveler, visiting during an economic or mild political crisis is fine, even a help to the affected communities. Visiting during a natural disaster is not, unless you are going as a volunteer to help.

Want to take advantage of the volcanic ash eruption in Iceland or the economic crash in Greece? Getting a passport is the first step. The application process usually takes about 6 weeks if you apply for normal processing and about 3 weeks if you apply for the government’s expedited processing. If you need your passport more quickly, the easiest and most convenient way is to use a private passport expediting company. An expediting company can make getting your passport a breeze, offering help with the application process and hand-delivering your paperwork to the Department of State for lightning-fast processing.

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