Protect Thy Passport: Safety Tips for Your Passport When Traveling
by Audrey Scott
Oh, the places your passport can take you. That is, if you keep it safe and protected. It really doesn’t take a lot of work or expense to take a few steps towards passport safety and peace of mind when you travel. Whether you’re on a Holy Land Pilgrimage or traveling elsewhere, here are a few passport safety tips for your next trip abroad.
1. USE A PASSPORT COVERNot only does a cover keep your passport in good shape, but a passport cover from another country can be used to keep things low key and to keep people guessing. My passport cover is from the Czech Republic.
2. KEEP YOUR PASSPORT IN AN RFID BLOCKING SLEEVE OR COVERUsing an RFID blocking sleeve for our passports is something that we’ve started doing the last few years as hacker technology has improved. Same goes for protecting your debit and credit cards. It’s just better not to take any risks.
And, the RFID blocking sleeve also serves the purpose of providing an additional level of physical protection for the passport. It’s inexpensive and easy to buy a set of RFID blocking sleeves for passports and credit cards or to buy a passport cover that already includes RFID blocking technology.
3. MAKE A LAMINATED, WALLET-SIZED COPY OF THE MAIN PAGE OF YOUR PASSPORT.This is our top passport safety tip. Think of this as the updated version of “carry a photocopy of your passport.” And it’s easy to make at the neighborhood copy shop. While it’s necessary to hand over your actual passport to a border guard or immigration officer, there are countless other situations (e.g., hotel desks, credit card ID, local transport booking) that may require nothing more than something with your name, photo, and passport number on it.
That’s where a credit card-sized laminated photocopied version of the front page of your passport (that fits easily in your wallet) comes in handy. And, it won’t disintegrate as rapidly as a regular paper photocopy. You’ll be surprised how often this official, yet not-at-all-official, piece of plastic works.
Here’s the big advantage of this laminated passport copy — it’s one more opportunity to keep your passport in your money belt (or wherever you happen to store it), locked away at the hotel, and one less opportunity to accidentally leave it somewhere. Be sure to keep the copy handy (we keep ours in our passports), but away from your passport original.
A U.S. Passport Card
Note for U.S. citizens: It’s also possible to apply for a U.S. Passport Card that is essentially an official version of the laminated copy. The cost is $65 for 10 years, the same length of time as your passport. It can also be used as an official identification if you are traveling to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
4. KEEP AN ELECTRONIC COPY OF THE VISA TO THE COUNTRY YOU’RE TRAVELING IN ON YOUR PHONE.Every time you enter a new country take a photo of your visa from that country and keep it handy on your phone. This will show the date you entered, the date the visa expires, and that you are in the country legally.
This was one that we learned on a recent trip to the Comoros Islands. Not only did the police during a road stop in a random village want to see our passports (and we used our laminated passport copies for that), but they also wanted to see our visa for the Comoros Islands.
5. MIND YOUR PASSPORT.If you’re at home, keep your passport in a secure, dry place. (And no, running your passport through the laundry does not qualify as “minding it.”) On the road, keep it in your money belt or some other place that is zipped or locked up, out of sight and hard to get to.
The worst place to keep your passport?
Stuffed in the back pocket of your jeans or an exposed pocket of your backpack. It screams, “Please lose me!” or “Please steal me!” We’re astounded by how often we see this on the road.
In 2019, Princess® Cruises will celebrate Fifty years of expertise sailing the Alaska region. Princess will offer a variety of cruises from 7 to 12 days long and multiple opportunities to explore the heart of Alaska on land.
Their history of carrying more people to the Great Land than any other cruise line, plus a top-rated Voyage of the Glaciers cruise that sails 500 miles further north across the Gulf of Alaska is just one of the reasons why Travel Weekly has named Princess® the #1 Cruise Line in Alaska for the last 13 years. For the ultimate Alaska experience combine a 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with stays at the exclusive Princess owned & operated Wilderness Lodges. Venture into the depths of the wilderness, so close to wildlife it will feel as if you belong in their world.
You will experience Alaska’s top two attractions on every Princess Land & Sea tour including pristine Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring towering Margerie Glacier, as well as picturesque six million-acre Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest peak and teeming with bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and wolves. Only Princess® offers Direct-to-the-Wilderness® rail service that takes you from your ship through the heart of Alaska delivering you at doorstep of legendary national parks and stays at Princess® exclusive owned wilderness lodges, the ideal location for exploring the Alaska wilds.
Which Alaska adventure is calling your name? Come learn about the Great Land of Alaska. Join us for an informative “Destination Alaska Planning Seminar” featuring a presentation by a Princess Cruise Line representative. Take advantage of tremendous savings and amenities for your 2019 Alaska Adventure.
Cruising the Mediterranean Sea offers port stops packed with rich culture and diversity. Within one week's time, it is possible to be in Italy, Greece and Turkey or France, Italy and Spain. Since travelers often like to budget a little extra time and take their kids to these destinations, the best time to cruise the Mediterranean can have less to do with the weather than with factors like personal or family schedules. Both the peak season and the low season have pros and cons.
High Season ProsSome Americans and Europeans prefer to take Mediterraneancruises during the peak season from May through August. This is when one will be able to find the widest selection of cruise ships and itineraries, and won't have to worry about rain or choppy waves. Since the summer months coincide school vacations, June through August remain the most heavily trafficked months, says travel writer Howard Hillman. Each day, it is possible to expect 11 hours of sunshine and average temperatures of 86 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, with sea breezes making it feel a few degrees cooler. Summer is the perfect time for visiting the beaches of Spain.
High Season ConsCruise Critic warns of "bigger crowds, higher prices and steamy temperatures" from May to August. Ports become congested and tourists are crawling all over the popular attractions. It is possible to see loads of Europeans, particularly in August during their most popular holidays, and it is likely to see many noisy children. Rooms on ships may be scarce if waiting until the last minute, and prices are usually jacked up during peak travel season.
Low Season Pros
Cruise Critic says the Mediterranean's low/shoulder season includes March, April, September, October and November: "This is the time to cruise the mega-ships minus lots of kids." Spring temperatures warm up nicely, with an average of 74 degrees Fahrenheit by the beginning of May. April and March see dry days and nearly 10 hours of sunshine. Some of the deepest discounts are available during October and November, including "two-for-one" or "free airfare" specials, according to Cruise Critic. Also, the Costa and MSC Italian cruise lines stay in Europe year-round to offer their flashiest ships and most unusual itineraries, to places like Morocco, Egypt and the Canary Islands -- which are too hot to visit during the summer. It is possible to enjoy less crowded ports and attractions, less competition, lower rates and more comfortable weather during spring or fall, adds Howard Hillman.
Low Season Cons
During the later fall months, the average temperature is around 66 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too cold for sunbathing, and winter ushers in only six daylight hours for sightseeing. Northern Mediterranean locations like France and Italy are just above freezing during the winter months. One will have fewer options; and for the most part, older ships will be cruising the Mediterranean at this time – with the exception of luxury lines that remain in Europe year round.
Bottom LineIf taking the kids, it is more probable to go the traditional summer route. In that case, make the best of it – swim often, see Spain's magnificent beaches and drink fresh wine spritzers in Italy. If there is a little more leeway, consider mid-to-late September or late May/early June for the best weather, prices and itineraries. The weather is perfect for shore excursions, and the ports are less crowded. For the best bargains, look to the shoulder months of March, April, October and November. There may be a few concessions as to weather, but there will also be big savings.
What is the point of a pilgrimage? Where did this idea come from for Catholics? There is considerable evidence throughout Scripture, which supplies theological significance to the concept. Even today we see many embracing this activity with passion and the commitment of time and resources.
While many would regard a basic definition of pilgrimage as a “journey made on foot or by other means to a site of particular religious significance,” this might be insufficient for two basic reasons that ignore the universal appeal of a pilgrimage or the pilgrim’s motivation.
Humanity inherently has a curiosity and desire to dive into certain questions. The Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) acknowledges this natural, basic curiosity of human beings to ask: “What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death?” (No. 1).
Pilgrimage is a part of many of the great religions of the world, for in religion humanity seeks the answers to the questions above. So, pilgrimage is a common human experience in which one seeks to fulfill a ritual obligation, perform an act of devotion to atone their own sins, live an experience of spirituality, or implore a grace, a miracle, a cure, etc. As profound as the reasons for pilgrimages may be, so are the destinations for them: Jerusalem (Jews and Christians), Mecca (Muslims), Sarnath (Buddhist), Banares (Hindu), Amritsar (Sikh), to name a few, plus innumerable lesser sites of historical-spiritual importance to these religions and others.
In Christianity, there are few acts of devotion as rich in history, traditions or spirituality. This is true to such a degree that the image of the pilgrimage has become a metaphorical image of life itself. We are all on a journey heavenward. Chapter VII of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) speaks of the pilgrim Church that journeys onward toward the heavenly Jerusalem. The council’s Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) says in its preface that the Church is a community of disciples “led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the kingdom of the Father.”
Pilgrimage in ScriptureThe idea of a pilgrimage has an incredibly strong foundation in both the Old and New Testaments. The spiritual importance of pilgrimage is manifested often in physical journeys and trials — from Abraham’s journey of faith all the way to the missionary journeys of St. Paul.
In Genesis, we observe how God specifically summons Abram to trust Him — to leave his country, to come into God’s land, where he will inherit God’s promises that will make his innumerable descendants into a great nation.
Later, in the Letter to the Hebrews, more is said about Abraham’s pilgrimage: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God” (11:8-10).
The Bible tells of many physical journeys, especially to Jerusalem, or “Zion.” Fifteen of the Psalms were written specifically for pilgrimage to Jerusalem (see Ps 120-134). They are called the Psalms of Ascent, as the Jews would climb the steep grade up to Jerusalem, the city on the hill. The prophet Micah says, “Many nations shall come, and say, / ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, / to the house of the God of Jacob, / That he may instruct us in his ways, / that we may walk in his paths” (Mi 4:2).
But the pivotal pilgrimage in Scripture is the Exodus — the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt — through the desert, trials, temptations and sin, ever journeying toward the Promised Land. This episode has become one of the primary models of the relationship between journeying and the life of conversion and faith.
In the New Testament, we likewise see a pilgrimage’s importance, not so much in the sense of a physical journey, but in the idea of living our current, earthly lives in a way that brings us closer to the eternal.
Even mysterious and enigmatic figures like the Three Kings are pilgrims who appear in the Gospel of Matthew after the birth of Jesus: “Behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage’” (2:1-2).
Apart from the legends, little is known about these men of great culture who came from a distant land, but they beautifully embody the idea of pilgrimage. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in the third volume of his “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy: “The Wise Men of the East … represent the setting out of humanity towards Christ, they inaugurate a procession through the whole history. They are not only the people who have found the way to Christ. They represent the interior desire of the human spirit, the encountering of religions and human reason with Christ.” With this perspective, one can see that any religious pilgrimage takes on a Christian meaning, as humanity searches for God, knowingly or unknowingly.
The Infancy Narratives include an account of a pilgrimage taken by the Holy Family: “Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom” (Lk 2:41-42). The 12-year-old Jesus stays behind in the Temple, unbeknownst to His parents, and speaks of His Father with the scholars.
After the inauguration of Jesus’ public life — following His baptism in the Jordan — His entire ministry unfolds as a pilgrimage back to Jerusalem, day after day, along the roads of Palestine.
Christ’s death on the cross has a massive effect on the evolving definition of pilgrimage. His sacrifice introduces the idea of redemption, and the temporary nature of what we experience, as we journey toward heaven.
We see this in the Gospels, or in the accounts of the apostles. They recount to us how Jesus’ death has opened the door to heaven. With this understanding we realize that the struggles we face now — trials, sufferings, temporary worries and problems — can be our sacrifices of praise as we journey toward salvation.
After His passover from death to life at the Resurrection, the community of Jesus’ first disciples, animated by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, travel throughout the world to spread the Gospel. After their martyrdoms, their tombs immediately become places venerated by the ancient Christians — most notably those of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome. “In fact, if you want to go to the Vatican or along the way to Ostia, you will find the trophies of those who have founded this Church,” the famous Church historian Eusebius writes about A.D. 200.
The official pilgrimages of the Twelve Apostles (who all died as martyrs, save St. John) branches from Spain to India to Ethiopia. Tradition relates stories, however, that associate each apostle (and also other figures of the New Testament) to a place where he died and often to where his relics are preserved.
St. John, in his Book of Revelation, reminds the faithful that our life on the earthly terrain is just a temporary state, until we get closer to that end God has envisioned.
Pilgrimage in HistoryThe scriptural motivations for pilgrimage compel people today to experience this for themselves. But also in the Christian tradition the practice of pilgrimage has always been linked to the saints. They are especially honored in churches and shrines, especially those that preserve their bodies and tombs.
Once Christianity was legalized in A.D. 313, the paths most frequented by pilgrims draw a dense network on the European map. “Egeria’s Travels” was a primitive kind of travel diary by a devout pilgrim, written around the early part of the fifth century, which documents the practice of pilgrimage to the sites associated with Christ’s life. But later, when the Holy Land was conquered by Arabs, other routes were opened in the West.
Rome became an important destination for medieval pilgrims and remains so today. There also is Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, where pilgrims walk along the famous Camino. It also is still a popular destination, where the relics of St. James the Great are venerated. There are many official routes from all over Europe, with specific hostels along the way for pilgrims to rest and meet one another.
From the 11th century or so, indulgences became intertwined with pilgrimages. There was an indulgence reserved for the Crusaders departing to the Holy Land with arms to protect pilgrims.
With the passing of the centuries, other places of pilgrimage become important. Around the world, especially in countries of ancient Christian tradition, sanctuaries were built in memory of a supernatural apparition, miraculous event or other spiritual or historical relevance to the lives of saints. People have traveled to them for a variety of reasons.
The list of all world destinations of pilgrimage is many thousands in number, but here are some which are visited by more than a million pilgrims every year. In addition to Rome, the Holy Land and Santiago de Compostela, it is important to highlight significant Marian shrines: Loreto in Italy, where the Holy House of Nazareth is kept; Lourdes in France, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous and many experience physical healing; Fátima in Portugal, where this year the centenary of the apparitions to three shepherd children will be celebrated.
In the Americas, standing out for fame and number of pilgrims are the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and the Shrine of Aparecida in Brazil. But every country has its national shrine — in the United States it is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Fruits of a PilgrimageLooked at from a religious perspective, a pilgrimage is a trip different than usual. It is not only for admiring masterpieces of art, although many places of pilgrimage are full of history and beauty. In days gone by pilgrims could be imagined as ragged and emaciated, willing to forgo any comfort along long roads full of dangers. But a conscientious pilgrim still chooses a certain restraint and intentionality as one chooses accommodation, food and drink, and, of course, places an importance on silence and prayer.
To experience something different from other trips, the pilgrim must be different and live differently in the simplicity of faith. Otherwise, the pilgrimage does not contribute to real change. The pilgrim moves within the geography of faith, along the path on which are scattered traces of holiness, in places where God’s grace has been shown with particular splendor and produced abundant fruits of conversion and holiness.
One goes on a pilgrimage to ask God for help needed to live more generously your own Christian vocation once back in your home, explains the Vatican’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Therefore, the pilgrimage is not, and never should be, just “a journey to a place of religious interest.” Alone or with others, it is a physical component of the path of one’s heart toward God.
Deborah Castellano Lubov writes from Rome where she covers the pope and the Holy See.
Europe is a long, long way away. It takes the best part of a day to fly to, playing havoc with your body clock. Getting there - and staying there - isn't cheap, either. The exchange rate between the Euro and the Australian dollar is worse than with the greenback and you can have an all-inclusive package holiday to Bali for the cost of a return airfare to the continent. So why do we bother with Europe at all? Well, let us count the ways.
1. THE HISTORY
Pondering the wisdom of Socrates and Plato while trekking up the Athens Acropolis. Indulging your inner gladiator at the Roman Colosseum. Getting lost amid the labyrinthine, cobblestoned Old Town of Prague. Stretching from Lisbon to Istanbul, Europe is crammed with sights and streets that have been shaped by more than 3000 years of human civilisation. This is a continent that lets you bed down in fairytale castles. Walk hand-in-hand along ancient city walls and aqueducts. Take a pew in a mighty mediaeval cathedral. Roam the windswept beaches where the world wars played out. Tramp around myth-drenched villages that pre-date the pyramids of Giza. As more than one Australian has been overheard saying, "Wow, you can almost feel the history".
2. THE CITIES
London. Paris. Barcelona. Berlin. Europe is home to some of the world's greatest cities. The brilliant thing about them is that they never stand still. New fads and fashions - and a constant influx of immigration - mean these dynamic metropolises are always reinventing themselves. Visitors will naturally make a beeline to the iconic sights - after all, what's Barcelona without Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia or Paris minus the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre? However, inner-city zones that, not so long ago, were derelict industrial wastelands or down-and-out 'hoods are now increasingly appealing to tourists. London's evolving East End, and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (where you'll find the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall) are two examples of hip and happening districts brimming with creativity, while you may be surprised to discover cutting-edge street - or guerrilla - art stencilled across the renaissance city of Florence.
3. THE TRAINS
Thanks to budget airlines like Ryanair, you can now fly from the chilly tundras of Scandinavia to the sun-baked Spanish costas for less than $50. But most of the time, travelling around Europe is better by train. The continent is criss-crossed with rail tracks, spanning everything from chugging cog-wheel alpine lines to super-sleek ones that carry Frecciarossa and TGV trains at speeds approaching 360km/h. Window scenery is diverse and often spectacular - especially through mountainous nations like Switzerland and Slovenia, or along coastlines like the French Riviera. Another thrill of European rail travel is crossing borders, and encountering a different language, culture and (sometimes) currency, within an hour's journey. As well as the regular services, there's an raft of special trains, such as heritage steam locomotives and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a paragon of opulence that runs from London to Venice.
4. THE RIVERS AND THE CANALS
Long before the advent of trains, planes and automobiles, Europe's waterways played a pivotal role in its development from Stone Age hinterland to the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution. While no longer the vibrant veins of trade of a few centuries ago, the continent's rivers, fjords and canals have emerged as booming leisure cruise destinations. Popular routes include Vienna-Budapest on the Danube, Europe's second longest river (after the Volga in Russia), and Basel-Cologne on the Rhine. Some cities - notably St Petersburg, Bruges, Amsterdam and, of course, Venice - are synonymous with canals, and romantic canal trips, while some countries - particularly England and France - have extensive inland canal networks. Fancy hiring, navigating and sleeping on a narrowboat? You can do that here.
5. THE ISLANDS
Historic harbours rim Europe's coastlines, with the likes of Cadiz, Marseille and Genoa absorbing ports of call for ocean-going cruise liners. Others are springboards for memorable island-hopping adventures. Take Piraeus, the port near Athens - from which you can board ferries to dozens of exotic Greek islands, including Crete, Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes. Once you've tired of the wonderful walled old town of Dubrovnik, you can sail around Croatia's majestic 700-island archipelago. Other seductive island-hopping gateways include Palma de Mallorca (for the Balearics), Valletta (for Malta) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (for the Canary Islands).
6. THE FOOD
What's Paris without the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFPEurope is jam-packed with tantalising foodie experiences. Think: devouring warm, melt-in-your mouth croissants and pain au chocolat purchased from a boulangerie in a chocolate-box-pretty French town. Enjoying an alfresco seafood feast beside a crystal-clear Mediterranean bay speckled with colourful fishing boats. Tapas bar crawling in Madrid or San Sebastian. Licking a gelato while gallivanting across a piazza in Rome (or munching a mozzarella-drenched pizza in the scooter-strewn streets of Naples). A European adventure is also about sampling the local favourites. You may find yourself addicted to boreks (a flaky pastry snack) in the Balkans, or pierogi (dumplings), which are served in dozens of flavours, sweet and savoury, in Poland.
7. THE COUNTRYSIDE
Europe's cities hog the headlines, but it's the countryside that many travellers fall in love with. Carpeted in snow and ski bunnies in winter, and abundant with lush green, floral-rich scenery in summer, the Swiss Alps are a dream for lovers of the great outdoors. So, too, is Cinque Terre, where a trail traverses five fabulously photogenic towns, perched on clifftops overlooking the Mediterranean. Inland, the great Italian lakes never fail to enchant, while you may wish to live out your daydreams under the Tuscan sun, sipping a glass of Chianti and reading your Frances Mayes or Elizabeth Gilbert on the terrace of a renovated stone farmhouse. Alternatively, rent a cottage amid the lavender fields of Provence which made such an impression on van Gogh. Or chase Santa Claus and the Northern Lights in far-flung Lapland.
8. THE HIDDEN GEMS
One of the joys of travel is finding a hidden gem. Europe is full of them. It is 25 years since the Iron Curtain fell, and former Soviet cities like Tallinn and Krakow are firm favourites on the tourist trail, but other picturesque central and eastern European spots are still off most travellers' radars. The historic towns of Kotor (Montenegro), Maribor (Slovenia), Olomouc (Czech Republic), Pecs (Hungary), Sibiu (Romania), Torun (Poland) and Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) are all enticing little city break destinations; the lakes of Ohrid (Macedona) and Bled (Slovenia) are utterly bewitching and do you know which country has arguably Europe's most gorgeous coastline? That'd be Albania. A jumble of olive groves, sheer cliffs and turquoise seas, the Albanian Riviera, as it's known, is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
9. THE FESTIVALS
Incomparable: The entrance to a castle in Germany's Moselle River valley. Photo: Getty ImagesEurope has an extraordinary calendar of festivals. Many - such as the Semana Santa holy week in Seville - ooze centuries of tradition. Others, such as Sonar in Barcelona, flaunt cutting-edge trends and sounds. A few, like the annual Cheese Rolling competition in Gloucestershire, England, revel in their Monty Python-esque absurdity. Across the continent, you can mingle with like-minded souls at music festivals, film festivals, comedy festivals, arts festivals, food and wine festivals, beer festivals and festive - OK, Christmas - festivals. One thing's for sure: come to Europe and you'll find your kind of festival.
10. THE PUBS
Bouncing through Europe, you're bound to work up a thirst. While you'll find scores of vineyards and wine cellars, it's the old pubs that often generate the most vivid - or blurry - memories: quaffing pints of Guinness with affable punters in taverns across the Emerald Isle (Ireland), sipping real ale in the creaking, timber-beamed olde-worlde pubs of England, sinking steins served by dirndl-clad waitresses in the beerhouses of Munich, or trying 1001 different tipples in a Brussels back-street bar. Your idea of a beer drinker's heaven may be the Czech Republic. Here, you'll rarely pay more than $1.50 for a half-litre of the planet's finest pilsner. Prefer a caffeine hit? Europe is a land of pavement cafes; perfect for watching this endlessly fascinating continent go by.
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