Yes, I’m quite the fan of carrying a passport. Having held a job a few years back that required frequent international travel, it was a necessary tool of the trade. But is a passport really necessary for someone who might take a cruise to the Bahamas once every 5 years? Or a flight to Aruba? Well…in a word…no for now, but get one anyway. You will need it soon enough.

Passports will be required for all persons traveling to or from the United States by air effective January 23, 2007. These new requirements apply to essentially all international travel including to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. You can read more about the new requirements at the State Department’s website.

The new requirements were to apply to cruise ship passengers as well, but the industry successfully lobbied the Congress to delay implementation of this requirement for cruisers until January 1, 2008 indefinitely. Don’t let this (not so) brief reprieve stop you from getting a passport if you are planning a cruise. Get it over with, and don’t worry about it. You’ll be ready to go without any last minute stress of wondering whether or not you’ll get your passport in time for your trip.

Frankly, I was never a big fan of flying (or cruising) to some island with your drivers license and birth certificate anyway. This leaves way too much up to someone’s interpretation as to what represents a valid birth certificate and what does not. Check out the Ombudsman article in December’s issue of Conde’ Nast Traveler for a good example of why you need to get a passport if you plan on traveling anywhere outside of the USA!