Passport rules: What you need to know before you travel

(WXYZ) - It’s travel time! That means once-in-a-lifetime vacations or glamorous getaways. Before you go, what’s on your checklist? Flight and hotel? Booked. Bags? Packed.

Read all the passport rules for where you’re going? No?!

Just because you have a valid passport doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing.

Just ask Kristen Howerton. She loves to travel with her family, so she planned a meaningful trip to Haiti for her son’s tenth birthday. “My son Kembe was born in Haiti, so it is a place we visit often,” says Howerton.

She and her family are no travel rookies, so she did the normal things to prepare: “[We] made sure our flights were in order, made sure we had someone picking us up at the airport. And then I checked the passports.” Her kids’ passports were valid for five months, so she figured she was good to go.

Then, a friend told her Haiti requires passports to be valid for six months. She says she was surprised “because my assumption is the expiration date is the last date you could travel.”

According to the State Department, each country has its own rules regarding passports.

And it’s not just the expiration you need to think about.

George Hobica of http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/ says, “Some destinations won’t even let you into the country if you don’t have a blank page. Some visas require two pages” on your passport.

Passports aren’t the only potential issue. Hobica says, “One of our readers on AirfaireWatchdog.com was late for a flight leaving from Dublin to London. She got on another flight from Dublin to London, but the airline canceled all her other remaining segments because she missed her original flight.”

He says if you do miss a flight, reconfirm remaining reservations. And, whether you’re flying international or domestic, you can sometimes save money by mixing and matching airlines. “A lot of airlines now sell the one-way fare for exactly half the lowest roundtrip price,” he says.

In the end, Howerton flew off to Haiti for the trip of a lifetime with two of her kids, even though she had to pay nearly $600 to expedite the passports.

She would like the rules more front and center, saying, “I feel like it would be helpful if the State Department sent a letter when you get your passport that articulated that the expiration date is not necessarily your last possible date of travel.”

For a list of passport rules, click HERE https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html

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