HELOISE: Passport pointers prep you for travel

Dear Readers: Getting a United States passport for the first time can be a little overwhelming, yet it’s exciting and an important first. Here are some hints to help:

First, the application. You can find these online or at any passport acceptance facility, passport agency and most post offices. Don’t sign the application until you submit it in person.

Get two passport photos; there are many photo-processing stores that do this. You must follow the guidelines.

Submit the application in person. You can go to the post office, public library or other state, county, township or municipal government office, according to the U.S. Department of State. Some locations accept passport applications by appointment only; call first to be sure.

When submitting your application, bring passport photos, proof of U.S. citizenship (a certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship), proper identification (driver’s license, government or military ID, naturalization certificate), a copy of that identification and the fee.

Processing can take a while, so make sure you get your passport well ahead of travel dates.

There also is a passport card, which costs less than a passport. It is valid for entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports of entry, according to the State Department. It is not good for international travel by air.


Dear Heloise: We carry a roll of toilet paper when we take a road trip or go camping. My husband discovered that the plastic spindle case used to package 100 blank CDs makes a perfect portable toilet-paper holder. It keeps the paper clean and ready to use in an emergency. So we found a perfect way to reuse rather than discard the packaging of our blank CDs.

Heidi, via e-mail

Dear Readers: Having a hard time getting your preschooler to help put his or her toys away after playing? Put like toys in bins. Once everything is organized, make it a game! See if your child is able to put the toys in the correct bin. Don’t forget to be encouraging when he or she puts things away correctly!


Dear Heloise: Four of us were going to Las Vegas for a week. Instead of paying baggage fees, I shipped our toiletries via U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail in the flat-rate medium box. I paid less than half of what it would cost to check one bag. Without our toiletries, we could carry on our luggage. Check with your hotel to see how to send yourself a package, and with the post office to see how long it will take a package to arrive.

Brenda B., via e-mail

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

King Features Syndicate

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