It's travel time! That means once-in-a-lifetime vacations or glamorous getaways. Before you go, what's on your checklist? Flight and hotel? Booked. Bags? Packed Read all the passport rules for where you're going? No!? Just because you have a valid passport doesn't mean it'll be smooth sailing--- 'er, flying.
Monday on WMBF News at 4 p.m., Theo Hayes has critical information about passports you need to know before you head to the airport.
Kristen Howerton loves to travel with her family, so she planned a meaningful trip to Haiti for her son's tenth birthday.
"My son Kembe was born in Haiti, so it is a place we visit often," Howerton said. She did all the usual things to prepare: "…made sure our flights were in order, made sure we had someone picking us up at the airport. And then, I checked the passports."
Her kids' passports were valid for five months, so she figured she was good to go. Then, a friend told her Haiti requires passports to be valid for six months.
"I was surprised because my assumption is the expiration date is the last date you could travel."
According to the state department, each country has its own rules regarding passports.
And it's not just the expiration you need to think about.
"Some destinations won't even let you into the country if you don't have a blank page," says travel expert George Hobica. "Some visas require two pages."
Hobica says passports aren't the only potential problem.
"One of our readers on airfairewatchdog.com was late for a flight leaving from Dublin to London," he said. "She got on another flight from Dublin to London, but the airline cancelled all her other remaining segments because she missed her original flight."
He says if you do miss a flight, reconfirm remaining reservations, and, whether you're flying international or domestic, you can sometimes save money by mixing and matching airlines.
"A lot of airlines now sell the one-way fare for exactly half the lowest roundtrip price," Hobica says.
In the end, Howerton flew off to Haiti for the trip of a lifetime with two of her kids, even though she had to pay nearly $600 to expedite new passports.
"I feel like it would be helpful if the state department sent a letter when you get your passport that articulated that the expiration date is not necessarily your last possible date of travel," she says.
Hobica says it's always important to photocopy the information page of your passport and keep it in a safe place in case your passport is lost.
Other tips: check your credit cards. They may offer automatic travel protection. And, Hobica says, you will usually always save money if you bundle travel –like air and hotel ---together.
To check out the passport requirements for any given country, check out our website.
Find more links to important travel-related information here:
Information on country-by-country passport rules
Transportation.gov consumer protection rules: