Passport Pages: Running Out Abroad – Member Experience
I had visited, lived, and or studied in 23+ countries since getting my new passport in 2013 but had negligently been unaware of how many pages I had left before I embarked on my latest trip. Some friends and I set off this summer on 10-country tour starting in Paris then moving through Southeast Asia.
When you’re traveling a lot, the passport stamps aren’t what give you problems but rather the full-page visas some countries feel the need to bless you with. All was going well on the trip: a stamp in Paris, a stamp in Bangkok, a…. full page visa in Cambodia for a 2-day visit?
Getting that full-page visa finally got my attention and had me questioning how many open pages I might need for other countries. It turned out, Vietnam would be a full-page visa as well and that China was not only a full-page visa but required TWO blank pages to even give you the visa in the first place.
Erratically flipping through my US passport pages in the Cambodian airport, I realized I had no more blank US passport pages left for visas and could barely accommodate more stamps. I did what any reasonable person would do in that moment—refused to believe that fact and begged my friends to go through my passport pages for me. Because surely my LASIK had failed me and my vision was no longer clear. Surely, I had not embarked on a 10-country stop only to be deported not even half-way through.
After confirming that I did indeed have no more pages left, one of my friends assured me that I had nothing to worry about because I could simply go into an embassy or consulate and have pages added. Such sweet relief?!
Well not really…. a quick google search dashed my hopes of a solution that simple. The State department had changed its policy on adding passport pages just 6-months before our trip and it was no longer an option.
All my google searches for alternative solutions were telling me that the only thing to be done was to renew my passport, which would take at least a week or more; made worse by the fact that I wasn’t even in the US and that some embassies/consulates abroad don’t process passports in-house.
I went on different messaging threads trying to find people who had undergone similar experiences but the change in policy was too recent for me to find someone to keep me company in my misery.
The internet could not provide the hope and solace it typically does and I sank deep into my worry. I tried to stay positive but internally I knew I might have really done it this time. Things always seem to work out for me when I’m traveling but surely luck runs out right?
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Friday at 1 PM and by 2:30 PM I was standing in front of the embassy gates explaining my pitiful situation to a staff member through a window. Luckily, I found out that emergency passports aren’t just for people who lose their passports but also for poor souls like myself that just can’t seem to get right. An application, passport photoshoot at a nearby mall, and $110 later, I left the embassy at 4PM with an emergency passport in hand.
The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur came in CLUTCH for me at the very last minute and I lived happily ever after…that is until it was time to apply for Chinese Visa in Hong Kong with a two-day turn-around.
That’s a story for another time though because remember my aforementioned statement about an inability to get right *face palm*