The Road to Shambhala: Passport Crisis Adverted
I’ve long been stoked and prepared for Shambhala, my first international festival and first visit to Canada. I had everything ready: costumes picked out, road trip routed, Kickstarter money raised – wait… where’s my passport?
Sheer panic dominated my being when I realized my passport had fallen off of the face of the planet Saturday, two days before my planned date of departure to Canada. I thought that I was royally screwed, because the quickest expedited passport turnaround that I knew of was two weeks, which is long after Shambhala would have ended. To make matters worse, I had a successfully-funded Kickstarter project to get myself and a friend to the festival for a gonzo-inspired journalism project; I felt helplessly depressed as I thought about how many supporters I would be letting down if I didn’t make it.
I desperately began looking into a “plan B”, and relentlessly read through goggle searches and blog posts for a possible solution for my passport crisis. I discovered a few outside passport expedition agencies, but many of them cost upwards of $500, and provided no guarantee that it would actually be processed by the date needed. This was a chunk of money and a risk I knew that I couldn’t afford to take.
Countless phone calls, three panic attacks and one sleepless night later, I learned that The Western Passport Center in Tucson, AZ is notorious for same-day passport processing. I made an appointment for 9AM Monday morning, and my friend and travel partner Maranda and I re-routed our trip up to Canada to accommodate this. The additional fee would only be $85, and immediate same-day processing was on a case-by-case basis when proof of travel could be provided.
I arrived at the Western Passport Center at 8:45 AM with all the required documents and proof of travel, but a cloud of uncertainty still hung over my head as to whether or not they would actually be able to process it that same day, so that we could stay on track to make it to the festival in time to provide sufficient coverage. I was surprised with the friendliness, quickness and transparency of the government agency. They told me to come back at noon (in 3 hours), as they were going to try to have it ready for pick up then. I killed a few hours in Tucson, then came back to the sheer delight of finding my passport was ready to go! I literally danced my happy booty out of there.
-Keep up with your important documents.
-Sometimes accidents happen, but there is almost always a solution if you are willing to do the research and work to make it happen.
-Go to a Passport Agency, (there are 28 across the country) rather than an outside agency.
– Make an appointment at the Passport Agency (some are easier to get an appointment at than others, depending on the location).
-Make sure to have all of the necessary documents: proof of citizenship, ID, and proof of travel.