You heard it here first. I read Chris Elliott’s online columns almost everyday. Sometimes I come away a little miffed….like when he bad-mouths frequent flier programs, and other times I learn something I didn’t know. And still in other instances (like yesterday’s column), I see a stark reminder of what I think should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. What the heck am I talking about? NOW HEAR THIS – IF YOU ARE TRAVELING OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA YOU NEED A PASSPORT.

I realize this isn’t news to most readers as the primary clientele are interested in airplane travel. What you may not know is that as a US citizen traveling on a “closed loop” cruise that begins and ends at the same US port, you are allowed to travel with a nothing more than a birth certificate and a picture ID. The cruise industry fought hard to carve out this exception for closed loop cruises. I can only assume that they thought a requirement for passports would cost them business. Perhaps it would. However, just because you can do something does not mean that you should. The definition of what is valid and what is not in regards to immigration documents other than passports is subject to a little too much interpretation if you ask me.

Planning a cruise? Thinking about attempting to travel with your birth certificate and a picture ID? Please don’t do it. Get a passport. It’s the cheapest travel insurance money can buy.