A good friend of mine who's in her 40s JUST GOT HER FIRST PASSPORT. She's thrilled and so am I. Just having one gives you the freedom to do more than you could yesterday. Stupidly, getting a passport was something I thought everybody did as soon as they could pronounce the word 'departure'.

Chris Hondros - Getty Images News

According to The Expeditioner:

"Most Americans do not have a passport. The number of Americans who have a passport, according to the most recent statistics issued by the State Department in January of 2011, is 114,464,041. Given the country’s population of 307,006,550, about 37% of the population has one.

This means that nearly 2 out of 3 Americans can’t even fly to Canada, let alone travel to anywhere else in the world (new rules allow those with “Passport Cards” to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean and Bermuda, but they are not allowed to be used for international air travel. There are about 3.5 million Americans who have this card."

Sure, money can be a real hindrance to traveling the world and exploring exotic beaches but in my humble opinion it's CRUCIAL to save your pennies and leave the country as often as possible.

Seeing the world is not just about taking a vacation, it's about seeing new things, meeting new people and gaining perspective on other cultures. Sounds like a given, but according to the stats above most people don't seem to make much of an effort.

I recently had to renew my passport for the 2nd time. They expire every ten years. (My favorite part was picking a new picture to use and quite frankly I'm not sure the State Department will accept it since it's actually a good one.)

You Must Apply in Person If:

  • You are applying for your first U.S. passport
  • You are under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change
Ethan Miller - Getty Images News

In any case, if you've been thinking about JUST DOING IT...getting a passport, I'm all for it. It's easy. Visit the website of The US State Department for the paperwork you'll need, write the check and get one. Then you can flash that awesome picture to the TSA dude who's going to feel you up. I've actually come to enjoy the ridiculous banter that occurs when a stranger gropes my boobs in public.

At least that way, you're ready. Aruba, China, Brazil, wherever. YOU'LL be ready to expand your horizons anytime YOU want. And now that friend of mine and I are planning a vacation together, anywhere we want to go in the world. Thus far, we've only been to Targhee a few times. 'Bout time to head farther south. -Michelle