How to Obtain Your Passport in 5 Easy Steps

how to obtain your passport

Do you have a destination wedding on the horizon or plan to travel internationally?  You will need to obtain a US passport.  No worries, here’s 5 easy steps on how to obtain your passport quickly:

Complete Your Passport Application –  You can fill out Form DS-11 Application for US Passport on-line and print it.  You will need to know dates of marriages and/or your date of divorce as well as your spouses or ex-spouse’s birthday and address.  Sorry, I’m just delivering information.

Obtain Passport Photo – You will need to get a passport picture.  I had mine taken at CVS.  However, Wal-Greens, Fed-Ex, UPS, Rite Aid, 1-Hour Photo Shops, Costco are a few places who offer services too.   Your local Wal-Mart may offer the cheapest service.

Before you have your passport photo taken, familiarize yourself with the rules.  For example, you can’t wear glasses, a hat, or obscure your hairline.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  So, I wore a headband for my initial photo.  But it was not allowed.  You can’t hid your hairline.  Obviously, the lady who took my picture at CVS didn’t know that.  She just knew how to use the camera.  The lady who took my passport application questioned it.  Back to CVS I went.  Fortunately, it was close by.

Obtain a Copy of Your Birth Certificate – You will need a copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal.  A copy of your birth certificate will not be allowed.

Make a Copy of all Documents – Make a copy of your documents before you hand them over.  You may need the information if you have to make an inquiry about your application.

Find a Location to Take Your Application – The Post Office and the library accept applications in my area.  There is a $110.00 application fee for adults and $80.00 for children under 15.

It takes approximately 30 days to obtain your passport.  However, allow sufficient time to obtain your passport and to have any printing errors corrected.  They printed M instead of F for my gender.  Correct any printing errors, otherwise, you risk being allowed to board the plane or get through customs.  You will need to complete Form DS-5504 to have any errors corrected.

Finally, we hope that our tips on how to obtain your passport has been helpful.  You may also like Using Travel Checklist to Organize Packing.

Airport Tips for Parents Traveling With Children

airport tips for parents


Summer is here!  We’re all looking forward to a nice long vacation.  Some of us will be traveling by car to our destinations, and some of us will be heading to the airport with children in toll.  Traveling can be stressful, but traveling with children raises stress to a new level.

So, how can you get through the airport with children and keep your sanity?  We have a few airport tips for parents that will make you a professional traveler in no time:

  1. Discuss expectations with the kids – First, let the kids know that they are expected to follow directions, and they are to stay with a family member at all times.  Once you get to the airport, discuss airport and plane instructions as well.
  2. Arrive early – Second, you will need plenty of time to check bags and get through security  Furthermore, you will need time to get drinks and snacks if you didn’t bring them.  Allow your children time to relax with an electronics game or book.  They may also want to checkout the planes on the tarmac etc.
  3. Get in the line designated for travelers with children – Next, you should know that not all airports have designated lines.  So, check with the airport before you arrive.
  4. Children 12 and under have different procedures – Children are allowed to keep their shoes, jackets on,  etc. on while going through security.  Furthermore, they will not be separated from their parents.  If you have an infant, you must remove them the carrier and carry them the detector with you.
  5. Children 13 and older must follow adult procedures – Children 13 and older must follow the same procedures as adults.
  6. All backpacks and carry on bags must be screened –  This includes your child’s.  So, make sure you are not carrying liquids or other items prohibited by TSA.  Allow yourself enough time to get beverages once you get through airport security.
  7. Pull Ups will come in handy  – If you have a child 6 or younger, use them.  It’s better than having an accident in the airport or on the seat of the plane.  Having to change out of wet underpants is a task you don’t need.
  8. Carry a change of clothes for the kids – Having a change of clothing with you just in case of an accident is a good thing.  This could be spills from eating or drinking, upset tummies and more.
  9. Wear slip on shoes and socks – Wearing shoes that you can easily take off and put on will help alleviate your struggle to get through the airport.  Remember belts, jewelry and other items can cause the detector to go off.  Put some thought into your dress for departure and your return.
  10. Pack carefully – You will have to get bags through security and through the airport.  Lugging heavy bags can be stressful, but also physically dangerous when trying to keep up with kids.
  11. Purchase ID Bracelets – We hope that we don’t get separated from our children, but sometimes things happen.  Place an ID bracelet on your children, and give them instructions on what they should do if they get separated.  First, they should immediately found another mom or someone wearing a uniform.  Second, instruct your children to tell the adult that they are lost from their parents, and last show them their ID Bracelet.
  12. Take advantage of early boarding – Airlines will allow travelers with children to board early.  This is one of the most crucial airport tips for parents that we have.
  13. Be patience –  Additionally, another one of most recommended airport tips for parents is patience.  You will need it.
  14. Baggage Claim – Furthermore, you must remain vigilant in getting your children through the airport.  Your last stop will be baggage claim.  A rest room break would be good at this time too.  If you have two adults traveling, I would suggest one stay with the children and the other retrieve the bags off the carasaul.   Furthermore, a  few bucks for a skycap or cart will be money well spent.
  15. Apply for a TSA Pre-check Clearance – Also, with a pre-check clearance, you will be allowed to by-pass removing your shoes, taking out electronics.  As a result, you can focus on the children and take them through the detector with you.  To fully maximize your pre-clearance, apply for your clearance before you make your airline reservations.  Additionally, you can enter your clearance number into the system when you make your airline reservations.

Last, allowing sufficient time to get through the airport is essential.  Furthermore, becoming upset and grumpy will make the trip unpleasant for everyone.  Most importantly, children will be excited at one point and frightened at others.  So, it is your responsibility to get them through both.

Finally, we hope you found our airport tips for parents useful.  You may also like: 13 Tips for Parents Traveling with Children 


Fun Things To Do In Central Park



Central Park is an 843-acre NYC gem offering an oasis of nature’s delights in the midst of a chaotic urban sprawl. Fortunately, this large patch of green provides visitors respite amid woodlands, meadows, lakes, wildlife and monuments.  With 21 playgrounds, rolling hills and tranquil spaces co-existing together, a day in this park promises to be unforgettable.  As a result, the whole family can enjoy a broad range of fun activities.

Here is a list of fun things to do in Central Park:

Bird Watching

First, explore 37-acres of winding trails, streams, rocks and hills known as the Ramble.  It’s a densely wooded, world-famous birding spot that covers from 72nd St. to 79th St.  Furthermore, Central Park is a well known migratory route and one of the best birding spots in the U.S.  It attracts birders from all over the world.  Some 250 species can be spotted here in any year.  Simply incredible.

 People Watch in Sheep Meadow

Second, Sheep Meadow is perhaps one of the best people-watching spots in Manhattan. This 15-acre field of lush green grass north of 65th St. along the southern edge of the park.  We suggest that you grab a blanket and some snacks.  Furthermore we suggest that you mingle with the ocean of sunbathers, picnickers, and kite-fliers for a relaxing fun-filled day.  In addition to the fun around you, you may hear a performer strumming a guitar or join in a friendly game of Frisbee.

Ice Skating at Wollman Rink

If you happen to be in NYC during winter, this summertime amusement park morphs into an icy playground.  And  ice skaters of all ages and skill levels join for arctic fun.  Another thing you can do is catch an exciting game of hockey,  or indulge in some night skating, with a romantic backdrop of NYC skyscrapers.

Bike through scenic landscape

Next, Central Park bike tours are perhaps the most leisurely way to explore this iconic green oasis. Take a guided bike tour, ride beneath a canopy of trees and appreciate nature at its finest.  Stop at famous locations and points of interest, grab hundreds of fantastic photo ops, and learn fun facts from your guide while pedaling through the park.

Stroll through the Conservatory Garden

Take in the beauty while strolling the through this six-acre paradise, the Conservatory Garden.  You can find spectacular annual displays of seasonal flowers.  Enter the park at 5th Ave between 104th and 105th Streets.  You will be entranced by water fountains and famous sculptures.  Not only it will entrance you, it will be bursting with colors you’ll want to capture in print.

Catch and release fish in the Harlem Meer and The Discovery Center

Enjoy this favorite free community pastime at the Harlem Meer.  Borrow a fishing rod and eco-friendly bait from the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, and let the fun begin.  You will find a flourishing pond with a variety of fish like carp, largemouth bass, and bluegill sunfish.  Additionally, you will find turtles, waterfowl, and birds.  Once you’re done just return your rods.  Be sure to learn about the many seasonal exhibits, musical performances, holiday celebrations and free education at the Discovery Center.

Go for a hike in the North Woods

Did you know that nearly one million visitors a year hike through these 40-acre woodlands?  The setting will make you feel like you’re in the Adirondacks.  In addition to the woodlands, you can enjoy the serenity of The Pool.  It is lined with cypress, weeping willows, and red maples, an idyllic setting for photographs.  This popular destination is the perfect place for spotting wildlife by streams.  Furthermore, you may find wildlife feasting on one of three cascades along rustic trails that will inspire and calm your senses.

Also, you may also like New York City Travel and Sites From Your Favorite TV Shows.  Without doubt, New York City should be on everyone’s list of place.  Oh yes, be sure to have fun!We need to conclude this post, but we hope you found our Things to Do in Central Park tips helpful.

About the author:  Kabir Khan is a contributor for travel and sight seeing in New York City.  Be sure to check out Central Park Bike Rental .  Great way to get exercise and to check out Central Park.


How to Save on Vacations: We Have 20 Tips


money saving tips on vacatins





While travel is not a household’s biggest expense, family vacations are expenditures that many families care. We have great tips to show you how to save on vacations. Getaways can also be expensive.  Particularly when traveling with kids. Even so, here are 20 ways to push through your vacations and save at the same time.

1. Be Flexile on Flights 

Save big money on travel by flying during less popular times, such as early in the morning, late at night, or midweek. When booking online, use the flexible-travel-date feature that lets you compare fares for days on either side of your target date.

2. Book early

Book trips between 27 to 114 days in advance saves a significant amount of money. The prices of airfares, according to, fluctuate until about 14 days out, when they reach their maximum.

3. Carry-ons

Avoid paying huge checked-bag charges by making sure that several of your suitcase adheres to the standard carry-on size (9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches). You can carry these bags on the plane and place them in the overhead bins.  Pack several large or a large suitcase for family clothing and toiletries.  Be sure to pack light.   

4. Hotel rooms

Call potential hotel rooms in your vacation destination and ask about discounted rooms.  AAA rates and any other specials can help cut cost. Do this before booking your hotel room.  Reservations can be made on-line.  Be sure to get a confirmation number and ensure your discount has been applied.

5. Vacation homes/condo

Consider booking a vacation home or condo rather than at a hotel. It will usually cost less and is more comfortable for the kids.  They also full or partial kitchens which can be used to cook some of the meals or house snacks.  

6. All-inclusive resort

When traveling outside the U.S., consider an all-inclusive resort, which includes meals, drinks, and entertainment. All-inclusive resorts offer maximum value while making budgeting for vacation easier.

7. Special promotions

Find online promotions related to your vacation. Attraction tickets are often less expensive when bought online, especially during certain days of the week.  If you don’t know where to start online, consider hiring a travel agent.  These agents work on commission and won’t charge you.

8. Coupons

Search the Internet for coupons you can use once you reach your destination. There are many sites that will show you how to save on vacations. Family deals are often offered when purchasing multiple tickets. Special Internet offers are also available when buying tickets online.

9. Deals

Find discounts and deals for your destination by using Groupon or Living Social. Also, check your destination’s local newspaper for specials and discount coupons. You can find special deals on How to Save on Vacations in local newspapers or the hotel you will be staying in. 

10. Transportation

Check to see if your hotel or resort offers shuttle service. You can eliminate car rental fees.  Use taxis or Uber, which can take you to outlying locations at a cost lower than a rental car.

11. Car rental

If you need to rent a car, go with a local car rental company instead of renting one at an airport location. Local car rentals help you to avoid high airport rates and fees.  Check to see if  they offer service to and from the off-site location. 

12. Car seats for kids

If you are using a rental car you may need a car seat.  Renting a car seat can set you back more than $5 a day. Save on car seat fees by bringing your own car seat for your kid. 

13. Supplies

If you are driving, pack plenty of drinking water, bread, cold cuts, healthy snacks and other supplies. This helps avoid stopping and buying on impulse. Once you reach your destination, shop at the local grocery store for supplies. 

14. Vacation essentials

Bring basic vacation items such as sunscreen and water bottles. Bringing your own essentials is far cheaper than buying them in hotels and amusement parks.

15. Packed lunches

If possible and when you can, prepare bag lunches each day for adults and for kids,  This can help avoid spending more, particularly on fast food chains.

16. Travel needs

Buy water, snacks and everything you need for a trip at a grocery store instead of purchasing them at the hotel, which usually sell overcharged items.

17. Eating locally

Eating at local restaurants is not only less expensive but also makes the trip more of an adventure. Ask for suggestions from your hotel’s front desk or from your vacation home’s contact.

18. Rewards points

When booking your airfare, hotels, or rental car, use points you have earned from credit card purchases or loyalty programs. Also, use credit cards that offer extra bonus points when used at supermarkets.

19. Apps

Download money-saving apps that you can use for gas, sites along a route, local diners, and accommodations. Save them in your phone during the planning stages of your trip.

20. Off season

Consider traveling during off-peak times. It will be cheaper and is less crowded than traveling during popular dates. Many vacation destinations offer reduced rates during the off season.

We hope that you find our tips on How to Save on Vacations beneficial.  You may not be able to or need to implement them all, so just implement the ones that will save you the most.

About the Author:

Stephanie is a freelance writer who resides in Gilbert, Arizona.  She is co-owner of  How Much Is itAside from spending time with her family, she also enjoys hiking, biking and scrapbooking

Kid’s Road Trip Games: Scavenger Hunt

Place an X on each item that you find.  Good Luck!  

road trip games for kids

road trip games for kids


Family road trips can be exciting, but they can also lead to a barrage of are we there yet if you’re traveling with children. Kids will be kids, but it’s enough to drive you crazy at times. I don’t know about your children, but anything over an hour seems to be more than my grandchildren can bear.  That is probably typical of most children to be honest. To make things interesting, I created a series of kid’s road trip games.  In particular, Travel Scavenger Hunts and word search puzzles.

Kid’s road trips games are perfect.  Playing them allows us time to unplug and enjoy the beauty surrounding us.  Additionally, road trips are a great way for children to observe the country side and what’s happenings on the interstate and highway.   Observations can lead to questions and interesting conversations with children.  Road trips can be a great way to bond.  Most importantly, you can make the trip educational and also memorable for everyone.

For this particular road trip game, children will love looking out the window in search of items on the paper. We come across most of them during our trips, and we have so much fun trying to find the items. If we find all of them all before we reach our destination we have other games to play. My grandson does word search puzzles, hidden objects or we do another Scavenger Hunt in the series.  I don’t know who has the most fun me or the kids.

Purchase a few clip boards and pencil or pens before you hit the road.  Be sure to print out several copies of the games.  I like to print the games on stock card.  It’s heavier than regular copy paper and that makes it easier to use without tearing.  You can also have the games laminated for a few dollars.  If you like our Scavenger Hunts please share and feel free to print for your use. Stay tuned for other printables in my Road Trip series.  You can download the kid’s road trip games here

You may also like:  Kid’s Road Trip Scavenger Hunt Part II