Friday, January 14, 2011

Passport Panic

When booking trips to Africa you really have to dot all your i's and double cross your t's.
Last month I had planned a pretty involved trip to Europe/Africa for some really awesome clients. His wife and him are pretty well traveled, they have been on several cruises and international tours. This year they were combining a 28 day European/Africa cruise with a Safari land tour. After getting all their pre cruise land set up in Italy I started working on the end of their trip to Krueger National Park and Victoria Falls. I double checked all their documentation and sent them to an international vaccination clinic to get shot up for the trip. After reading through all the legal mumbo jumbo on entry requirements I see a paragraph that notes clients have to have at least 2 completely empty pages in their passport book. I high lighted this information and also told the clients that customs will not stamp on the page if their is another stamp there (I dont know why this is a big deal in Africa because they put several stamps on a page everywhere else). Their passports were only a couple years old so they figured this was not a problem.
Unfortunately, a couple days before their departure they got out their passports to discover they only had one page that was still completely blank, even though most pages only had one stamp and plenty of room for more. I called the consulate to see how strict this rule was and if the clients could get by with what they had. Of course they said they could chance it, but they could also run into to problems. So, after weeks of preparation and planning they had to make a last minute drive up to Seattle to have additonal pages added to their passport. After a six hour roundtrip drive and another $90 each they returned home with several new blank passport pages. The upside of this story is that they were close enough to drive to a passport office and they got the passport office to reissue the passports same day (they were original told they would have to come back the next day for them). To every story there is a silver lining, we decided that they would now be able to travel a whole lot more in the next five years.

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