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6 Unique Stamps for Your US Passport

Passport stamps always have sentimental value, but when it comes to aesthetics, they often come up short. But not always. Some countries have passport stamps that are like miniature works of art. Here are six of the most interesting and unique passport stamps from around the world: Alaska  Okay, it's not a country, but when you re-enter the US from Alaska, you might find your passport adorned with anything from a moose (Poker Creek Customs) to an old-style locomotive engine (Skagway), depending on where you enter. See examples in this post from Republic of San Marino    Completely surrounded by Italy, the tiny Republic of San Marino is actually the world's oldest constitutional republic. It's not required that you get your passport stamped at the bo


For Canada Crossings, NEXUS Card No Longer Beats a US Passport

 A NEXUS card used to be the best-kept secret of frequent travelers to Canada. The card, which requires a background check and in-depth interviews with authorities from both the US and Canada to obtain, gives you "trusted traveler" status, plus your own special "express lane" at the border. With a NEXUS card, you could get through Customs much faster than with a US passport alone. Pretty sweet, right? Unfortunately for NEXUS cardholders, the program is not the secret ticket to elite status that it once was. In fact, MarketWatch is reporting that the NEXUS lanes going into Vancouver are now experiencing the equivalent of bumper-to-bumper traffic, often moving more slowly than the regular lanes. In fact, one Canadian traveler told Marketwatch that "“In June, we were crossing at Peace Ar


Sport Fishing in Mexico? Don’t Forget Your US Passport!

In California, deep-sea fishing boats crossing into Mexican waters have found themselves on the hook instead, as the Mexican  navy boarded them and checked their passengers' passports. According to, the sport-fishing boats believed that they were complying with existing regulations that allow anglers to take short fishing trips of a day or less into Mexican waters, as long as they have a Mexican fishing license. However, one of the boats reported being turned back when an angler on board was unable to produce a valid US passport. Michelle Gandola, a spokeswoman for the Sportfishing Association of California, told SignOnSanDiego that the Association had contacted the Mexican government for clarification: “We’re trying to get some kind of official statement from t


Your US Passport Can Take You to Japan- but is it Safe?

More than four months after an earthquake and a tsunami delivered a devastating one-two punch to Japan, the tourism industry is still reeling from the blow. Perceptions about the safety of the country (or lack thereof) are keeping many Americans away. Japan's travel industry tends to rely on well-heeled travelers, but according to the New York Times, tourist visits are down 50 percent. Meanwhile, Daniel Simon, the general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, told the newspaper that “we don’t really think the high-end leisure traveler will come back until Chinese New Year 2012 because there’s still too much negative news in the media about Japan.” So, high-end travelers are staying away. More intrepid travelers might very well say, "Let them." Though the coun


How Many Americans Have a US Passport?

As long as you're an American citizen, you qualify for a US passport, which allows you to travel to almost any country in the world. But how many Americans have actually taken the government up on this offer? According to social travel start-up Tripl, 115  million Americans currently have passports. That may sound like a lot, but it's only about 37 percent of the population. To put that number into perspective, 155 million Americans, or 50 percent of the population, have an account on Facebook. So, at least for now, more Americans are on Facebook than have a passport! Why don't more Americans have passports? There are probably a number of factors at play. For one thing, America is a big country, so there's no shortage of potential vacation spots that don't require one. For anothe


Beat the Heat With a US Passport

The dog days of summer are here, and at least in some parts of the country, being outside past noon is downright unpleasant.  In Oklahoma City today, the high is expected to hit 104! According to Wikipedia, the ancient Romans believed that during the dog days, "the seas boiled, wine turned sour, Quinto raged in anger, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." If you're looking for an escape from summer's punishing temperatures, your US passport might be just the ticket.  Here are some possible destinations to help you beat the heat: Norway: The average temperature in Oslo in July is only 63.1  °F.  Nice! Plus, the country has a variety of activities available that are guaranteed to chill you out, such as glacier wa


The Best “Secret” Places To Take Your US Passport

You've been to Mexico. You've been to Canada. You have pictures of yourself standing in London with Big Ben in the background and holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. What now? If you want to add some unique stamps to your US passport, consider these 5 undiscovered destinations. While not technically secret, these countries are off the radar for most US travelers but definitely worth visiting. The Maldives: This remote chain of islands in the Indian Ocean is home to some of the most pristine beaches you'll ever see. The weather is warm and the water is the clearest cerulean blue. The Maldives is not easy to get to, and you'll most likely have to fly through London or Dubai. It's also not cheap, as this Gadling post illustrates: a "shoestring" budget over there is about


Your US Passport Photo: How Close to Reality is It?

A US passport issued to an adult is valid for ten years. A lot can happen in that period of time, especially where your personal appearance is concerned. Weight can be gained or lost, haircuts can change and if you're surgically-inclined, you might even get a new nose or lips. A new photojournalism project by Suren Manvelyan and Biayna Mahari on the Behance Network showcases just how much of a difference a few years can make. The project compares old-but-still-valid passport photos with current photos of the same person. Here's how the creators describe the goal of the project, which they've named "Passport and Reality:" "This is a project about how different can look a person in real life and his own passport photo. People change every minute and the only thing that stays still is t


Your US Passport: Don’t Leave For Canada Without It!

When you head out to catch a flight to Canada, what's the one thing you shouldn't leave home without? Hint: It's not your American Express card! It's your US passport, which you'll need to get on the flight. Evan Longoria, the third baseman for the Tampa Rays, found that out the hard way when he tried to catch a charter flight with his teammates to Toronto. As he explained to the St. Petersburg Times, "First road trip of the year into Toronto, I packed everything, I was up early, took my dog for a walk and just didn't even think about bringing my passport." Fortunately for him, he was traveling with a sports team on their own chartered flight, so the team simply waited at the airport until someone showed up with his passport. His trip wasn't ruined; he just has to deal with the VERY


How Likely Are Your Neighbors to Have a US Passport?

Do you need a passport to keep up with Joneses? The answer might depend, in part, on where you live. C. G. P. Grey, a professional time management coach currently living in London, used data from the government website to come up with an infographic that shows what percentage of people in each state have a valid US passport. In the infographic, published on his blog, you can see that New Jersey, Delaware, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York and California have the most well-traveled residents. Out of these states, New Jersey wins the passport race: 68.36% of its residents have a US passport. The state with the lowest percentage is Mississippi, where only 19.86% of the residents have passports. Travel blog Gadling noted that, oddly enough, Grey's data suggest that at least 4