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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Thirty Percent Club

It dawned on me recently that since I've been asking travel bloggers to write posts about the value of their passports that I ought to put my money where my keyboard is and do the same thing.  I don't know what has taken me so long to get ta writin', but just the other day at World Travel Market London, I was approved for United States Global Entry access -- not to mention my first passport ever was issued for a memorable trip to Paris which is precisely where I am as I write -  so I figure now is as good a time as any to type.

As a member of the aptly named Thirty Percent Club, a name I concocted to represent the 30% of Americans with US passports, I have used my passport at least 8 times this year to fulfill this insane case of global Wandermania I seem to have been born with.  My little blue membership book, a part of my life since my early 20s (you didn’t need a passport to travel to the Caribbean when I was growing up), is as much a part of me as my eyeglasses are a part of my face and I wouldn’t be any good without either one.

Asia, Cydney & TaMara / CampCaribe 2010
That being said, this quasi-fanatical attachment I have to my passport seems to be a natural segue into spreading the news about global awareness and blue book membership via The Passport Party Project, a nationwide campaign designed to help give girls a world view by gifting them with their very first passports.  The Passport Party Project encourages girls to think globally and act locally by challenging them to – among other things - master the English language, to learn a new language, and to befriend a fellow classmate from a culture other than their own – all in preparation for travel.  Travel is another form of education that cannot be duplicated in a classroom whether that travel takes place on a global or local level.  Learning about new places, new people, new traditions and making new friends outside of a girl’s day-to-day experience and sometimes even without parents is life changing stuff…even if those changes cannot be visibly seen for years later. 

But some changes can be seen immediately.  As the owner and Executive Director of a unique travel camp program for girls, I have experienced first-hand the brand new body language (aka mini-swagger) that independent travel brings about as these impressionable pre-teens/teens that become new members of the Thirty Percent Club learn to travel independently of their parents - often for the first time.  I have experienced first-hand the shift from whining and complaining to vivid curiosity and bold choices.  This is some of the growth and privilege that Club membership and subsequent travel brings about…and I’m proud to be a part of something so meaningful and important.

Having a passport opens doors.  Using a passport opens minds.  If you haven't already, join the Club.  Membership, as you know, has its privileges.