Divaesque Passport Cover

Passport covers just don’t get better than this.  A durable leather wallet with the words “jet setting diva” in sparkling turquoise letters! Those of you who read my post, “My Life in Passport Photos,” know that I was jealous of my friend Mirva‘s pink “Jet Setting Diva” passport cover.  So I got one of my own.

But these passport covers by Sicura are hard to find! I lost a bid for one on eBay and I had to wait weeks for this one to arrive. It also came with luggage tags that say, “too big to carry on” and “weekend wardrobe inside.”

 

My new passport cover made its maiden voyage to Europe two weeks ago.  I was curious to know how customs officials and airport personnel would react.

My first passport control official was very serious and stern.  Could I make him smile?  As I handed him my passport, he glanced at the cover, raised his eyebrows and scanned the passport. I waited in silence. Then as he was handing it back, he said reluctantly, “nice cover.”  (Victory!)

The next day, as I boarded a plane in London, a lady behind me admitted that her daughter would love to have one just like it.

But the best reaction ever was from a German passport control officer in Frankfurt, who asked: “are you military personnel?”  Um… no.  (?!?)

Finally, when I arrived home at LAX, the customs official got all excited:

CUSTOMS OFFICER: Jet setting diva? Whoa! What kind of work do you do?

ME: I’m an opera singer.

CUSTOMS OFFICER: Really?  Cool!

So it’s official.  Having a cool passport cover will make your voyage that much more fun. I highly recommend it.

 

My Life in Passport Pictures

My parents must have known that I would become a world traveler: I was issued my first passport at the age of 4 weeks!

I was born in Hollywood, but my family moved to Scotland a few weeks later so that my Dad could earn his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. This photo tells a whole story: my Mom looks like a supermodel (she still does.) My sister Heather is obviously not thrilled about the whole passport picture experience. But I appear to be sleeping through it.  In fact, I’m told that I slept through the entire transatlantic flight!  Perhaps this explains why I am still able to sleep on planes: early conditioning.

But I almost didn’t survive that first flight to London Heathrow.  My mother tells this story:

As we boarded the plane, I followed after Heather, clutching a purse, a diaper bag, an overstuffed carry-on case and wearing a backpack designed to carry a toddler.  At barely two months of age, Lindsay was only a sleeping bump in the bottom of the backpack but as I edged down the aisle, one of the shoulder straps broke! The pack began to sway gently from side to side behind me.  Unable to even turn around, I went white and yelped!  An attendant quickly figured out the problem and helped me re-fasten the strap while I started babbling that we were moving to Scotland for three years and, and, and…. “I didn’t think you were going for three weeks, Luv,” he said with a wry smile as he helped me limp to my seat with the baby and the luggage.  We were seated next to an elderly lady in a black chador who seemed terrified, gripping a row of beads, rocking back and forth and softly chanting prayers throughout the take-off.  That was our first flight to Europe.

It’s quite fortunate that I didn’t get dropped on my head before I’d even had a chance to travel the world. But my real passport drama occurred in Rome, twenty years after that first international flight.  I was in Italy for the very first time, and as a naîve young music student, I managed to get my passport stolen before I had even laid eyes on the Colosseum!  So I spent my first day in Rome at the American Embassy on the Via Veneto.  I ducked into an automatic photo booth to get this photo for my temporary replacement passport.  After the blinding flash, I staggered out and handed the picture to the Italian man behind the desk. He glanced at the photo, did a theatrical double-take, kissed his fingertips and exclaimed, “Ma che bella!  È venuta bene, la foto, no?”  I smiled and blushed. It was a very Italian moment.

My “Roman” passport served me well. I got it extended at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and filled it up with stamps (and student visas) from Austria, Italy, Spain, Japan, Russia and a host of other countries. But then before I went to Nepal and Thailand in 2009, I decided it was finally time for a new passport.

Just a couple of days ago, I discovered that my friend Mirva Lempiäinen (a world-traveling journalist who writes a fabulous travel blog for Finnair) is in the possession of a pink passport cover that reads “JET SETTING DIVA.”  Seriously.  Yeah, I gotta get one of those.  Happy travels, everyone!