Traveling Without A Passport?
Closed Loop Cruises
(Cruises that start and end in the same U.S. destination)
U.S. citizens who board cruise ships at U.S. ports, travel only in the Western Hemisphere, then return to the same port may present a government issued ID, such as a driver's license, to prove identification, accompanied by an original certified birth certificate to prove citizenship. Understand that cruises that include destinations outside of the U.S. that are not U.S. territories, may stop at countries that require you to present a U.S. passport to enter, so you could end up spending time on the ship when everyone else is enjoying the destination port city. Also, some cruises may not let you board without a U.S. passport, so be sure to check with the cruise line before booking those tickets.
Situated two and a half hours from Miami in a pocket of water between the Atlantic and the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a U.S. island territory. Influences of Africa, Spain, Latin America and the U.S. collide in the culture of this small chain of islands. Visit the mountainous interior, tropical rain forests and southern beaches to stare into the Caribbean waters and forget the mainland.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which include St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, were acquired by the U.S. as territories in 1917 after hundreds of years of Danish rule. The history of the islands includes indigenous Indians, Europeans settlers and African slaves and traders in the islands' complicated past. Enjoy all that the islands have to offer by learning their history as well swimming, diving and enjoying the weather.
Northern Mariana Islands
The Micronesian islands of the Northern Marianas are another group of Pacific territories open to U.S. citizens without passports. Enjoy cultural dance, music and food while relaxing on the tropical beaches. For a bit more adventure, scuba dive for ocean life, coral reefs or World War Two shipwrecks off the coast.
The six Polynesian islands in the heart of the South Pacific that make up American Samoa are another tropical territory of the U.S. Far from the borders of the American mainland, tourists seeking some peace and respite from the more obvious beach getaways will find island life in these tropical islands refreshing. Discover the jungle or just hang out at the beach and leave the working world behind.
The only tropical islands to receive full U.S. statehood, Hawaii has glistening beaches, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, active and dormant volcanoes and warm, sunny days all year round. The Pacific island chain is more than five hours from the U.S. mainland when flying from Los Angeles.
According to USA Today, if you do not have a passport, that does not mean you must let the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative scare you away from Bermuda, Jamaica, the Bahamas and other small Caribbean nations. While all air passengers must use a passport to return to the U.S. from these countries, if you are traveling by land or by sea, a passport card or enhanced driver's license will also gain you passage back into the U.S. A passport card, a wallet-sized government issued photo I.D., is good for international land and sea travel in North America. It is cheaper than applying for a passport book and will allow you to travel to even more warm, sunny islands.
Traveling With A Passport
Applying For A Passport
Step 1: Start Early - Gather Documents
Apply for your passport several months before your trip. First-time applicants, minors, and applicants who may not renew by mail may submit their passport application at the Post Office. The U.S. State Department website explains what you'll need to bring with you.
Application forms (unsigned)
Proof of identity document and a photocopy of the front and back
Proof of U.S. Citizenship document and a photocopy of the front and back