If you’re traveling abroad you’re going to need a passport. In order to keep yourself from getting into a pinch, start applying for one as early as possible.
A US passport currently costs $135 for a new passport, and $110 to renew an old passport. Expensive, yes. But at least an adult passport will last you for the next ten years.
How Long Does it Take?
In the case of the US, current processing times are around 4-6 weeks for routine service.
If you pay an additional $60+ dollars for expedited service, you can cut the processing time down to 2-3 weeks.
That being said, I’ve heard of passport processing taking significantly more time than this (10-12 weeks). Just to ensure you’re not going to jeopardize your trip, I would suggest applying at least 4 months before you plan to leave.
Last Minute Travel
What do you do if you realize you don’t have a passport and you’re leaving next week? You may still be able to get a passport. In the US, you make an appointment with a regional passport center. Some may require proof of international travel within 14 days.
For citizens of other countries, take look at the passport links to the right to see if there are similar abilities.
Do I need a Visa?
Odds are if you’re from the US, Canada, European Union, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, you won’t need a visa to visit Europe for 3 months or less.
For more information about visa requirements, check out the European Union’s website.
However, if you plan on traveling outside of the European Union, to places like, Russia, Turkey or Croatia, check that country’s embassy to make sure you do not need a visa.
Do I need any other travel documents?
While not technically a travel document, many backpackers get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). The ISIC is an internationally accepted student ID card. It serves as internationally recognized proof of student status, it also entitles the holder to a number of discounts only available to ISIC card holders.
If you’re student, I would highly suggest getting one, as foreign university IDs aren’t always accepted as proof of student status. The cost is pretty cheap and it will pretty easily pay for itself with discounts.