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How I Avoided an Epic Travel Fail (Don’t Make My Mistake!)

By Danielle Howard December 02, 2019 Travel

We had been planning the trip to Iceland for months. In quest of the Aurora Borealis, a trip to nurture my soul, my husband, Mark, had diligently made all of the travel arrangements. I had put my mind at ease and focused on clients and work days up until the Friday before our scheduled departure.

Friday evening, I started to pack. The first thing I grabbed was my passport. Upon opening it, I stared in disbelief – issued April 2008, expired April 2018.

It was November 9th and we were leaving on November 13th – of 2019! My heart started beating rapidly and I reread it, thinking it must be wrong. Four days until we leave, and I have an expired passport!

I took a deep breath and after the heart palpitations slowed and I stopped berating myself, I headed to the Internet for advice. Guess what? I am not the only person who has experienced this. Don’t panic, you will still make your flight, I was reassured.

I was grateful for the advice out there and want to add my encouraging experience of getting through it. Here are my three “P’s” to help you navigate your day in Colorado with an expired passport and travel plans within a week.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Where to go: the passport agency.

Make sure you have all of your documentation ready ahead of time. Bring your expired passport, proof of impending travel, the application and the fee. If you have time to schedule an appointment, do so. I didn’t. I just showed up and went through the line with everyone else.

Rearrange your “planned” day. I was able to reschedule meetings to go remote instead of gathering in person. Face Time or Zoom have really made life easier.

After I gave the agent my paperwork and paid the $170.00 fee, I headed out and found a great little café – The French Press to camp out for a bit. Great vegetarian hash! Then I found a cute library to settle into to get my scheduled office “to do” list accomplished.

Pleasantries Make for Good Time

Make new friends! I stood in line with about 20 other people. Everyone was glued to their phones. I started a conversation with the gal in front of me, wrangling her toddler.

“What is your passport story?” She shared they were on the way to a family reunion in Turks/Caicos. Thus – started the stories. A few people chimed in and the line moved quickly.

Upon getting through security (We were greeted by several state department security guards that were helpful and smiled!), you will stand in another line – awaiting an open window. Take notice of the view behind the employees. Our beautiful Colorado mountains are framed by the windows.

I said, “Great view,” and actually got two responses from people. “Thanks for pointing that out, I was consumed with the number of people in line,” and, “Wow – I didn’t notice.”

It’s a good idea to only take what you need to get through the process. I brought my computer, thinking I would be in there for a while, but ended up quickly getting through the line and heading out to fill the six hours before the passport elves had finished their work.

Perspective Is Key

Yes, this is inconvenient and costs you time and money. Keep your eye on what is important and don’t sweat it. You have plans to go somewhere for a reason that is important to you. So, keep a positive perspective.

You can get some exercise in. The Denver office is on the 6th floor. Use the stairs. You will need to make two trips. First, to give them the paperwork and pay the fee (an extra $60.00 to expedite processing), then to come back and pick it up.

They schedule pickups between 2 and 3 p.m. I arrived a few minutes early and went right through security.

The passport office is within walking distance to Cherry Creek State Park. I was fortunate to have a beautiful fall day to get out and enjoy an hour’s walk between my remote meetings and when I picked up my new passport.

Take a deep breath and know that you will be on your way soon. You are headed out on an adventure. Now, this can be included as part of it. Enjoy!

What last-minute preparations have you had to do before leaving to travel abroad? Have you had to renew your passport mere days before takeoff? How did that go? Please share your stories below.

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The Author

Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), author, speaker and financial thought leader. Read her book - Your Financial Revolution – Time to Recognize, Revitalize, and Release Your Financial Power. Visit her at or

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