It’s a fact: Most Americans do not have a passport. The number of Americans who have a passport, according to the State Department, is 68 million, or around 22% of the population. That means that as of this year, 78% of US citizens cannot see the Eiffel Tower or Machu Picchu or the Great Wall of China. Heck, they can’t even visit their grandma in Canada!
There are so many reasons to own a US passport. Freedom. Adventure. Exploration. Education. I could go on and on. One of the best reasons I’ve heard is from Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, who says, “It’s through travel, first and foremost, that we meet and understand the outside world. We can read all about other countries in papers and magazines or see them on television, but it’s remarkable how different places turn out to be when you actually visit them.”
There is a terrific book edited by Sara Benson titled “Don’t Let The World Pass You By! 52 Reasons to Have a Passport”. I believe in each and every one. Here are a few of my favorites:
#2 Find Out Who You Really Are
Flipping through your passport is like reading your diary. A passport makes grand adventures possible, and also preserves them like photos in an album. Where go go in the world says something about you. – what you’re interested in, how adventurous you are, what kind of activities you like…who you really are.
#6 C’mon, Live a Little
In the words of Auntie Mame – You’ve Got to Live, Live, Live! There is so much life in you and plenty of energy to connect to out in the world. But you have to get out there to experience it.
#7 It’s Not Such Risky Business
The world is not a dangerous place if you choose your destinations carefully; the book lists the 10 Safest Countries. By the way, the U.S. ranks 27th, right after Armenia.
#15 Ship Out and Shape Up
True Fact: I lose weight every time I take a trip – even when I indulge. It’s all that moving around and carrying luggage. The fact that I am not cooking for myself, have no cupboard to peruse when I am bored and hungry and am walking a ton more than I do at home helps, too.
#22 Feel the Thrill of the (Un) Familiar
Has your life become routine? Is it time to try something new? Your passport is the key to that new door that can lead you on adventures all over the world. Beaching it in Cancun? Riding camels in Egypt? Helping at a school in Costa Rica? These all make you feel more alive – and I think, happier.
#33 Activate Your Life
Travel moves you – literally! Whether it be swimming in a crystal blue ocean, hiking an ancient trail or biking through vineyards, travel is an active pursuit. It’s the perfect way for you to re-ignite a joy for life AND burn calories at the same time.
And here is my own Oprah moment of travel: You can be your own best self when you travel. You can re-invent yourself every day. You can talk to new people or spend the day within yourself. If you are open to the experience, you will learn more in one day of travel than most other pursuits. Martha Gellhorn – war reporter, novelist, travel writer (and Hemingway’s 3rd wife) – said it best “Now I am alive again. Ponce de León was a nut case: the fountain of youth is not a little spurt of water but travel. I forget everything I know; otherwise I would have left much sooner. . . I have only to go to a different country, sky, language, scenery, to feel it is worth living.”
Martha? Mame? The message is the same.
Want the book? Amazon.com has got it: http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Let-World-Pass-You/dp/1740595785/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272392861&sr=8-1