Thursday, June 21, 2007

U.S. tourists in a bind over changing travel rules

Yesterday, officials pushed back plans for the second time in a month to obligate U.S. travelers from presenting passports when traveling to several countries such as Mexico and the Caribbean. The constant changes to U.S. passport rules has led to a massive backlog of passport applicants as well as uncertainty over what to do.

Even those who have traveled to some destinations have been forced to turn back over confusion from the rule changes:

“Martin Rodriguez, a police officer from Dublin (California), waited 11 weeks for his passport, then - after confirming the new policies with airlines and government officials - went ahead with his Mexican vacation plans, carrying only an ID and a passport application receipt.

But when he and his wife flew to Los Angeles before connecting to Guadalajara, they discovered that Mexican officials were turning away some travelers. They drove home.

U.S., Mexican and airline officials all insist they are following the rules, but which rules? It's not clear.”

So what can be done? One travel expert has some advice:

“1) Apply six months before you plan to travel or pay for expedited service.

2) Don’t purchase tickets for a trip that requires passports until you have them in hand.

3) Pray.”

Sources- Bloomberg, TIME, San Jose Mercury News, MSNBC

Image- National Park Service

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