Spring Break 2019, Part 1: Prologue

As expected, my Cancún summary is rather long. So I shall divide it into a couple posts for you.

Part one goes back to the pre-trip drama I mentioned before we left.

Two Sundays ago we were deep into the trip prep process. Packing, printing itineraries, making our 30th Target run, etc. As a part of this I pulled out our passports to make backup copies. I got through the girls’, threw mine onto the copier, and glanced at S’s.

“Hmm, that’s weird,” I thought. “For a moment there I thought this was out of date.”

I looked at the date on her passport again.

“Wait, what year is this? 2019?”

“OHHHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT.”

I walked out to the living room where S was, eyes wide and feeling as though all the blood had drained from my head.

“Umm, we have a problem,” I said as I handed her passport over. “This is expired.”

Yep, her passport expired in February.

What followed was a general panic. She quickly got her sister who works in the travel industry on the phone, who did her best to calm S down. I could hear her talking about getting on the website of the passport agency in Chicago. Not being a dummy, I quickly pulled up that site. There were two open appointments on Wednesday. We immediately claimed one. The sister said she had heard of other people going up and getting their passport the same day they requested one. But as I read the website’s fine print I noticed it said passports would be issued within 72 hours. As we were leaving Thursday that wouldn’t do us much good.

The rest of the evening was very stressful, as I’m sure you can imagine. I couldn’t believe we had let this happen. We just traveled across the border a year ago and I would almost bet we both made mental notes for her to renew the passport before our next trip. I think the issue was that we did not expect to travel this spring break, so we put that thought waaaaay in the backs of our heads. When we ended up scheduling a trip to Mexico for this year, neither of us thought to check passports and make sure we were good.

On Monday I did some research to see what our options were if she couldn’t get a new passport. I read that I would need a notarized statement from S to take the girls out of the country without her. I slapped one together and emailed it over. She responded saying a couple people in her office told her they had run into the same issue, had driven up to Chicago and walked out with a passport that day. Tuesday night, at the school play, a friend told me she knew of at least two people who had done the same thing.

Things were looking better, but we weren’t counting our chickens, or pollos in this case, quite yet.

Neither of us slept well Tuesday night, waiting for her 5:00 AM alarm Wednesday morning. She made good time to Chicago and texted me when she arrived. I responded, “Let’s hope everyone up there is in a good mood today.” A few minutes later I saw that our credit card had been run at the agency, so another step had been checked off. About 20 minutes later she texted that passports would be issued between 3:00-4:00 Chicago time. Luckily she took her laptop and a bunch of work. We weren’t out of the woods yet, but the stress was beginning to ease.

Over the next few hours she got some work knocked out. She took a walk – it was a nice day in Chicago – and got yelled at by a homeless woman for being “A motherfucker who didn’t buy me that house you promised me.” Weird. Shortly after I got the girls home from school S texted saying she had her passport and would be joining us in Cancun! Relief! I told her not to drive too fast on her way home. A speeding ticket would just be the icing on the cake of a crazy week. Three hours later she was home and we were doing final packing.

Thank goodness we live within driving distance of a passport agency that does same-day service. We learned a valuable lesson that I will reiterate for all: keep track of your passport’s expiration date. Apparently you can’t even travel within the last six months before it expires, so give yourself plenty of leeway. And if you book an overseas trip, check your passport when you’re booking to see if you need to get on the renewal process right away. Mine is safe for another three years, and the girls have four years left on theirs.

With that messy step out of the way, we were off early Thursday morning to Cancún…