Odd Feelings About My New Passport…

Filed Under: Travel

I just went through the process of renewing my US passport. Ford’s passport was due to expire in August, and mine in December, so we figured we might as well both renew them at once. Over the weekend I got my new passport in the mail. Much to my surprise, it’s making me sentimental.

I’m usually not someone who cares about anything material. It’s one of the things that I learned from living in hotels — material possessions don’t matter. So while some people get attached to certain material objects, I’ve never really felt that way… until now.

I received my new passport in the mail, along with my old one with some holes in it (to show that it’s no longer valid). The new one is so pretty — you can actually see it’s a US passport, the back isn’t littered with stickers, and the pages don’t look like they were added as an elementary school arts & crafts project.

But oddly I feel sad about the new passport. I feel like I’m throwing away 10 years of my life, in a way. Every single place I’ve traveled to internationally is documented in my passport. My passport is the only thing that has been everywhere in the world with me for the past decade.

Sure, my passport was a total mess, and had virtually no empty pages, and looked awful… but damnit, it was my one and only consistent travel companion.

In a way I feel like renewing my passport is like closing the chapter on the last 10 years of my life, and opening a new chapter. In general that’s not a bad thing — life is good, all things considered — but it also reminds me how life is fleeting. How did a decade pass so quickly, because I totally remember the last time I renewed my passport?!

On the plus side, I’ll probably run into fewer problems at immigration with my new passport, and I also won’t have to worry about my lack of empty pages. My old passport seemed to be a conversation starter with immigration, airline, and hotel staff, and usually I’m not one for starting random conversations.

So yay, I get another 10 years of travel, and I quite literally have a clean slate. But a new passport is also a reminder of how time flies, and to appreciate every minute.

Anyone else find themselves feeling some kind of way after getting your passport renewed?

Comments
  1. Anyone who travels feels like that. I have all my passports since I was a little kid … back when there were more borders and more stamps 🙂

  2. I get this. A passport full of stamps and stickers is a concise form of your life story – honeymoon, first trip with kids, first visit to…. Etc etc.

    Don’t throw it away even if it’s just so you can smile at your photo in years come.

  3. Yes, but less and less so as places move away from stamps. The stickers don’t really even do it for me. There is something special about trying to decipher the stamps.

  4. I felt the exact same way 2 years ago when I renewed mine. And my old and new ones looked very much like your photos. I had just received my 10 year China visa with my old passport and since the majority of my travel is in Asia I still bring it along on most trips. I didn’t have to say the long goodbye to the old gal yet!

  5. At least they give you the old one back now. It used to be extra-sad when you had to cough up the old one, never to be seen again.

  6. I’ve got every passport I’ve ever had, and I got my first one as a baby. I’d never get rid of them; they are treasures. Be happy that you’ve got a whole new book to fill up with great travel and memories.

  7. I feel the same way. Just renewed my passport with 51 countries worth of stamps and memories (Well sort of….since once you’re in the Schengen zone, you really don’t get stamped). But it’s the same passport I used when I first took my first solo international trip abroad (Brazil), when I studied abroad in college, and when I finally hit 50 countries just a few months ago. It definitely feels weird, so I feel you on that.

  8. My world traveler neighbor recently passed away, and I came across her old passports. The first was an early diplomatic passport from 1950 when, as a recent Stanford grad, she became a secretary to the Air Force attaché in post-war London. She went on to travel the world for decades, including sneaking into East Germany (documented in her Christmas letters, not her passport!) and sailing the Queen Mary around the world. What a life! I compiled the Christmas letters and remarkable stories of the world travels as a memory for her friends and family: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Greetings-Remarkable-Harleigh-Thayer/dp/1095555936/

  9. How long did it actually take for you to receive the passport? The website says 6 to 8 weeks processing time but wondering what the recent timeframe has been.

  10. You should remove the old not-valid-anymore security stickers after your trips. Not only does it make the security staffers’ job easier, it will also avoid conflictual where-you-have-been proofs. Didn’t you have such a story in Lebanon not so long ago? (if I remember well).

  11. @ mudba — I did, and that’s the 52 page one (which just shows how big my old one looked by comparison).

  12. This was my first passport renewal also, and I was sooooooo paranoid about the old one not being returned that I made color photocopies of all of my stamped pages, just in case. There are a lot of memories tied to those stamps! It was 6 weeks of holding my breath and waiting for both to be sent, which thankfully were. 🙂

  13. @ Shaun — I used a service for expedited renewal, and it took less than a week from when I sent it out to when I received it. Maybe a good topic for another post.

  14. I think it’s important that they allow you to keep your old passport (even with holes). So while you no longer use it, you can keep it as a reminder.

    A few of my British friends are posting pictures of their new passports on social media over the last few weeks. They’re all very sad that “European Union” has already been removed from the cover. But that’s another story.

  15. Here’s a question that I’ve been putting off:
    If you have other countries visas in your passport (say a Chinese one) that does not expire at the same time as the passport…do they transfer the page/stickon VISA over or do you have to get a new visa to all those countries again?

  16. Hi Ben,
    Totally sentimental about giving up by annexed passport too. Nothing abnormal about that. Don’t know why you used an expedited service when you can just do it yourself at a passport agency when you’re about to travel– that’s what I always do– but whatever.
    –Ari

  17. My mom and dad still have their old Yugoslav passports from when they came to the USA as kids in the 1970s and before they naturalized. Aside from the sentimental value and the reminder of where and how far we’ve come, they are quite the time capsule.

  18. @Ben

    Care to share the website or service you renewed your passport from? I’m due for a renewal in a few months.

    Isn’t there supposed to be a new design for U.S. passports?

  19. Hi Ben,

    I’m totally with you. I keep all my passports and get sentimental every time they expire.

    May this passport be filled up very quickly.

    Aleš

    P.S. For the love of travel, get a clear cover for this new one! I have all my passports in clear covers and they look new to this day!

  20. Just sent mine in as well…and they forgot/did not send back my old passport. 70 pages of wonderful stamps and visas poofed 🙁

    Anyone have a similar situation/was able to get it mailed back to them?

  21. @Luke Dubin

    It depends on the country. Sometimes you are allowed to bring both passports and enter using the visa on the expired passport as long as you have a current passport with you as well. USA & China allow this, among others.

  22. @Andrew

    How long has it been? Sometimes they send the new passport using Priority Mail but the old passport separately using regular first class mail.

  23. @Luke … see Tom I’s response. If you have a visa in the old passport you still need, then you need to bring the old passport with you as well for that visa. That is a major reason why they return the old passport. The Chinese 10 year visas keep those old passports in use.

  24. Just make sure you update the new passport information on the Global Entry website.

    @Mike O – The only benefit is you don’t need to travel to the passport agency office, and that may make sense if there’s none nearby or don’t have the time to go to a passport agency office. For DIY expedited renewal, you can make that request yourself on the passport application – just pay the extra fees. If you have upcoming travel within 2 weeks, or require a visa for travel within 4-6 weeks, you can make an appointment at a passport agency to submit your application in person. Make sure to pay for Priority Mail or Express Mail so the passport is tracked.

  25. You are closing a chapter of your life and starting another. Getting married, moving to a new location, adopting a dog, turning 30 – your life is pretty different from a couple years ago.

    The cool thing is that you get to keep the old passport, and once in a while flip through it for the memories.

    FWIW, my (and many of my friends) third decade was a great time. More confidence, maturity and understanding – and typically you have built some financial base. I’m guessing you’ve got all that – plus some good times ahead.

  26. @ David s. Reading the article, all airlines may refuse boarding if a passport is damaged, however suspect it’s more than a minor 2mm tear I recall a case when an arrival in Thailand was refused as she had decided to tear out a page since she needed it for toilet paper

  27. @ Ben — C’mon, let’s see the side-by-side that Ben L. suggested. It would be hilair-lair! 🙂

  28. I know how you feel. My old passport had quite a few sections added to it over the years and it certainly attracted attention. My new one makes me look like I’m some kind of rookie traveler; at least until it gets more stamps.

    My still valid Indian and Chinese visas are in my old passport, so when I travel to either of those countries I lug it with me. Airlines, Qatar in particular, seem to have issues with getting that information into their check-in system. Fortunately it’s never been a problem entering either one of those countries.

  29. Passports are definitely cool mementos. My grandmother’s passport from the early 1960s had a fun bit of history. The State Department message of where you aren’t allowed to travel had not only Cuba but also, “those parts of China not under the control of the Republic of China” — i.e., everywhere except Taiwan.

  30. @ Lucky did you also get the passport ID card? I did recently and am still trying to figure out its use??? Other than another form of “Real ID”.

  31. don’t worry, you’ll fill the new one up soon enough. Having renewed my passport a few times now I do enjoy going through the old ones from time to time, but I don’t know that I’d say it is especially sentimental. I just renewed mine because I was almost out of pages even though it still had a couple of years left on it. Got the “big book” this time – but they initially sent me the regular one so I had to get it corrected which ended up taking several weeks longer than getting the regular one did.

  32. A couple of points – I’m surprised that Ford waited so long to renew since a lot of countries (and maybe the airlines as well) require three to six months on the passport. Second, the regular (US State Department) expedited service took only 10 days for me back in 2017 when I renewed. Also, they didn’t return my old passport with the new one, it came separately a few weeks later. And, about those stickers, I accumulate 10 to 12 a year and I remove them after each trip because they draw a lot of scrutiny and I’d rather not go through more screening (it’s happened).

  33. I know how you feel. Mine expires in 2021 and I’m running out of empty pages (and similar to you I had my passport added pages twice! Someone told me though that they don’t allow to add pages on US passports anymore. So if there’s no empty space in your passport nowadays and your passport isn’t due for renewal anytime soon, you’d still have to renew the passport. I have a feeling given how much you travel that you’ll need to renew that new passport in less than 5 years.

  34. “On the plus side, I’ll probably run into fewer problems at immigration with my new passport, and I also won’t have to worry about my lack of empty pages. My old passport seemed to be a conversation starter with immigration, airline, and hotel staff, and usually I’m not one for starting random conversations.” LOL

    My passport with loads of visas and stamps was once used by an officer as a text book to onboard an intern (next to her). In the past half year, I was so nervous about the remaining 1-2 blank pages that I actually negotiated with immigration officer in every country, ‘Do you mind avoiding stamping on the blank pages? I only have 1-2 left and there is an upcoming work trip that requires a physical visa’…

  35. I don’t feel that my passport really reflects where I’ve been. For example, I’ve taken many trips to various countries in Europe that are represented only by FRA stamps.

  36. I just had my US passport renewed this year and it was a very stressful experience even i applied for expedited renewal. USPS delivered my old passport back but lost my new passport. I was without a passport for about 1.5 months after I found out my new passport disappeared.

  37. Mine is up for renewal next October – trip to Asia planned for next February, and I plan to renew (using an expedited service) after that.

    I will want book a trip for November 2020 long before I send my passport in to be renewed (basically, right at 330 days out). Since it expires in October 2020, can I do that?

    If I am able to book it using my about-to-expire passport, can I go back in and change my passport number for the reservation?

    Alternatively, if I cannot book it due to my expiring passport, I may want to renew my passport earlier. In that instance, same basic question – can I go in and change the passport number on my existing reservations for this November and next February?

  38. My new passport has no stamps due to many airports not stamping them. That should be illegal! All checkpoints should stamp!

  39. I plan to be buried with my passports, or if I’m cremated have them cremated with me. When I leave this Earth the memories of my travels are what I want most to take with me.

  40. Phenomenal post, incredible site Lucky!

    I’m blessed to have traveled all over as well. I carry several passports, I echo your sentiments completely.

    Passports truly are a great treasure of life.

    The friendships I’ve made while visiting places afar, are life long. Many I now consider part of our family.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with so many!

  41. Ben, I felt the same way about my passport. My wife delighted me by having it taken apart and framed with ina large display with some of the stamps and visas she knew were the most meaningful to me. If you settle down enough to hang art, I highly encourage you to do something similar. It is a great conversation piece and it keeps the memories generated with that passport alive.

  42. “The new one is so pretty”
    Are you serious? If you look at the quality of passport from Canada, Japan, China, Norway… this is like JCPenney vs Saks.
    The government should find another vendor to work on the passport for sure.

  43. My husband renewed for a new passport last year. When it came, his picture on the biometrics page was crooked.

  44. When you and Ford get married, you should do a little something with the page of your passport/page of his passport that documents the first trip you took together.

    I love it when you talk about Ford and your dog.

    Signed,
    a 44 year-old woman who watches too much Discover I.D.

  45. Mine is due to expire shortly. 10 years and no single US entry stamp because of Global Entry. Soon I might not get any entry stamp in Canada, UK, Switzerland…
    With this trend, we might not need the thick extra page passport after all..

  46. Ah grasshopper, it is not the material object (passport) that you now care about. It is the sentimental memories you associate with it. Live and learn.

  47. The TSA agents at my local airport’s security lines used to use big red sharpie markers to mark boarding passes. A couple of years ago, red ink from the markers got on my passport’s picture page.

    On that trip, every time I had to go through customs and immigration, the agents freaked out about the marks (and they weren’t big or very many).

    On my return home, I had to apply for a completely new passport (not a renewal), with all the documentation a first-time application requires.

    This May, I was happy to see they had ditched the big sharpies for ballpoint pens. I talked to the TSA agent, and he said a lot of passengers had experienced damage to their passports.

  48. My passport expires next year. This will be my third passport. I plan to apply in person at a passport office. The turn around time according to their office personnel is 3 business days.

  49. *Sigh* I completely understand this. I need to renew mine soon and I’m actually dreading it. It’s a great moment when just before heading out of the house on another adventure I slip my passport into my pocket and head off. It’s the last thing I pick up, like I’m saying to it “c’mon old friend, let’s go”. And it makes sense – without it the trip won’t happen. It’s the passport that gets you into a country, that opens the door, so no wonder it feels like a special magical friend. And once you’ve had one for several years, and it’s been everywhere with you and its full of stamps and brightly coloured visas its a thing of absolute magic!

  50. The fact you kept all those dirty stickers in the back gives me anxiety lol. u should take them off every trip now to keep it clean and avoid trouble!!!

  51. My previois Australian passport was only around 35 or so pages and I filled that in a quickly in 5 years.
    I had 2 pages left and in Dec 2017 The Aus government no longer would issue the “frequent traveller” 60+ page passport anymore.
    I was in Thailand at the time and on the last day of accepting applications I got it in 10 minutes before the embassy closed as I had my photos earlier that morning weren’t accepted so I had to go on a and race through BKK on the back of a motobike to go get new photos. Was a mad rush and journey to get my passport renewed to a bigger one I think I achieved 4 or 5 modes of transport in that day.

  52. I’m waiting for my renewal and asked for the extra pages. My old one has my China tourist visa, but will need it as I am sending my old and new to get my Z Visa. I cross my fingers and worry it won’t be returned as well.

    I didn’t have my first one completely filled, but now that I will be living and working abroad, that will change. Lots of treks, books and crannies to explore in this big old world, and I can’t wait!

    Thanks for the share!

  53. I just sent in my “arts & crafts” looking passport for renewal 3 weeks ago. Waiting for my new one to arrive in another 3 weeks or so. I have an upcoming trip to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in November so hopefully will get some new visas and stamps

  54. I go through a passport every 2 years. Once one expires, I rip the pages out of the old passport, make a collage of the pages with visa stamps on them, and hang them in my living room in a nice frame. Got like 5 frames now.

  55. @Shaun. I just renewed my passport and received it exactly 4 weeks from the date I mailed in the application. Given the time of delivery there and the return delivery, it took only 3 weeks for “Routine” processing, which was to be 6 to 8 weeks.
    I called 10 days ago to inquire about its status, and I was told I could add around $71 for expedited service. It would bump it up ahead of all the other Routine orders. I’m glad I just let it go because it came through rapidly anyway.
    I still did not get the plastic ID or my old passbook back, but I understand they will be mailing each of them separately.

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