Are We There Yet?

I don’t have a passport yet, which leads me to the next exciting adventure in travel planning. Traveling from the U.S. to Scotland requires a passport, but does not require a Visa (unless you plan to stay longer than 30 days).

I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can download the forms to apply for a passport on the Internet. They can be found at Passport Services.

Knowing that I’d need a birth certificate to prove citizenship, I set about searching for it. I know I have one. My father sent it to me months ago when he cleaned out his files. I put it somewhere where it wouldn’t get lost. Somewhere safe. Somewhere I have completely, entirely, forgotten.

Of course, I can find the birth certificates of both dogs, the receipts from Target for the last six months, and every extra button my clothes ever came with…but not a document I specifically wanted to save.

Isn’t that always true? You put something away in a safe place so you don’t lose it and never see it again. You can’t remember where the safe place was. I’m sure there’s someplace in my house where all the stuff goes, but I’ll never find it again. We should just have a big box marked “safe place” in the middle of the living room floor where we throw all our papers. It would probably be more useful!

The other thing that we investigated was the U.S. Customs rules about bringing stuff back. Like any other vacationer, we are sure to collect stuff on our travels that we want to bring back home. You know, books and stuff!

As a side note, Boo told us that several days into their travels, she was admonishing Jim that he was buying too many guidebooks and maps. “Am not! I’ve only spent twenty pounds or so!”. She replied that they already weighed more than twenty pounds, and he probably should ship them home.

You can apparently ship stuff as gifts, up to $200 a day, to other people without paying customs duties on it. Mark is very put out to realize that you can’t ship alcohol home — he’s thinking of all those distillery tours. Our kind neighbors are willing to sign for all the packages mailed to them, if we bring them back presents and bribes. Pretty cool, eh?

Otherwise, you can bring back $400 per person duty-free. Make sure to save all the receipts. Mark noted that TravelSmith has a really nice organizer for passport, papers, and money.

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