5 tips for getting baby passport photos right the first time

Traveling with a baby can be exhausting, frustrating, and generally tiresome. And that’s just packing your luggage! One way you can relieve some of the stress starts with getting your child passport photo correct the first time. We’ve laid out five great easy-to-follow steps for taking passport photos with children.

1. Make sure they have slept well

When your child is well rested, whether that be from a good night’s sleep or a long afternoon nap, taking passport photos can be made easier. They are more likely to listen and be less fussy when asked to sit still for the camera.

2. Bring snacks!

Bringing a small snack, like grapes or crackers, can provide your child with distraction should they get bored while taking their baby passport photo. It’s also great should the parent get fussy!

3. Provide something for them to focus on

A child passport photo must include the child looking straight at the camera. But of course, that’s easier said than done. In order to grab the child’s attention, display their favorite toy or an interesting object near the camera lens to focus their eyes near the camera.

4. Set up the correct background

Passport photos require neutral backgrounds without pattern or dark solid colors. It is best to use a white blanket or sheet to place your child on to take their baby passport photo. If your baby is still a wiggly infant, swaddle them to keep their arms and legs still. If your child is a bit older, still not capable of controlling themselves yet too rambunctious for a swaddle, bring in some assistance to help keep their arms and legs still. Should you need some help to settle the baby, make sure the helper’s hands are not visible in the passport photo. In passport pictures, the child must have their eyes open, mouth closed, and a gaze directed straight to the camera.

5. Upload the picture to paspic.com.

To expedite the process of getting your passport photo printed, upload the image to paspic.com. You will receive detailed instructions and instant notification as to whether your baby passport photo has complied with all legal requirements. They will be printed on photo-quality paper and mailed directly to you!

Photo: Asleep by César Rincón licensed under Creative commons 2

What to do if you lose your passport

The worst has happened. No matter where you look, you cannot find your passport. Losing important documents happens to the best of us, and depending on where you are in your travel plans, a lost passport can be a devastating blow. Replacing such an important piece of identification is necessarily difficult, but by keeping calm and following the steps outlined by the state department, you can be traveling sooner than you think.

Is it lost or stolen?

Determining whether your passport is simply misplaced or may have been stolen is an important step. If stolen, your passport may be used in illegal activities such as identity theft and unauthorized travel. In either case, it is important to report as soon as possible. Once reported, it will be invalidated so that it cannot be used or misused.

Fill out the appropriate forms

Depending on where you are and when you need to travel, you may need to take immediate steps to replace your passport. If it is going to be more than two weeks before you travel, you can make an online appointment at a Passport Acceptance Facility such as your local post office or courthouse. If more expedited travel is necessary, you will need to apply in person at your Regional Passport Agency, which may require some travel itself. The form you will need to fill out is DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport, and it will generate either a DS-82 or DS-5504 depending upon eligibility.

Make sure that your passport photos are acceptable

When applying for your new passport, you will need new passport photos that adhere to the strict standards outlined by the state department. Great care will need to be taken in the following areas

– Exposure of the photograph, not over or underexposed
– Positioning of the camera and subject of the photo
– Overall clarity of the photo and lighting of the subject

Given that these guidelines are so strict, a professional passport photo is often the best way to go. If you need to guarantee your passport pictures are acceptable, use Paspic today to avoid any additional delay to your travel plans.

The best travel snacks for avoiding an upset stomach

Each country possesses food and cuisines that are vastly different to our own in the United States, especially with the food regulations we have in place, the amount of processed foods we eat and so on and so forth. It’s easy to underestimate how the food will affect you, so it’s best to not start piling up your plate as soon as you land in the airport. Instead, take it slow and feast your eyes upon these handy dietary tips for your next vacation:

1. Bland food

Not exactly what you had in mind for your next trip to Morocco, is it? A bland diet is recommended for travelers with sensitive stomachs who may need to start slowly upon arrival. Examples of bland food include low-fat dairy products, cooked vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, and refined grains (white bread, crackers and pasta). These foods are not weighed down with fat nor are they highly acidic. You should eat them besides one meal out on your vacation and build up to eating food that is more local. That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

2. Bars

Bars are great because they could even fit in the same purse as your passport! They don’t expire, endure cold and hot climates and they’re good for you! They are usually packed with vitamins, protein, and fiber, so they’re great if you’re planning on making a trek up around the city or up a mountain with a beautiful view. You can buy these at your destination or have them with you on the plane. They’re a great alternative to peanuts, aren’t they?

Don’t let what food poisoning or an upset stomach happen to you on the first day of that well-earned vacation you’ve been saving up for. Study up on the local cuisine, common problems for tourists, and come prepared with your own dry storage. Your stomach will thank you for it!

Whether you’re planning a culinary adventure abroad, or just a trip to get away from it all, we can sort out your passport photos for you. Get in touch today.

The 4 best ways to see a new country

When you take a trip abroad you likely want to learn at least a little about the country’s culture, people, food and more. Unfortunately, many travelers never actually get to see a country the way the residents see it. Here are some of the best ways to see a new country.


CouchSurfing started as a local movement in 2003 and has since gone global. The idea is that you stay for free at members’ homes overnight or for a couple of days, eating with them and exchanging conversation. You might sleep on a couch, on the floor or in a spare bedroom; whatever they have available. After you sign up with the organization, you can avail yourself of all the spare couches across the globe. This is a very personalized way to get to know people from another country on a one-to-one level.

Long train rides

Riding a train across an area like Eastern Europe, for example, is a special way to see the countryside and meet lots of different people along the way. You may have a sleeper car or just sleep in your seat. Either way, you’ll invariably run into residents who are eager to talk to you and share ideas and maybe even a meal.

Taxi rides

As soon as you arrive in your new country, ask your airport taxi driver if they’d be willing to pick you up from your hotel the next morning and give you a real tour of the city from a personal perspective for a lump sum. Taxi drivers have a unique view of the city, and they know all the back roads and “secret” spots that you’ll never read about it a tour book. Your driver can show you spots where you can visit during your stay and tell you about any neighborhoods you should avoid.

Exchange yourself

If you’re a college student, you can become an exchange student and live with a family in another country while you finish a semester in that country. You’ll meet other students your own age at school, and likely make a lasting connection with your host family. As an exchange student, you would be fully integrated into their family life, attending social events with them, eating meals with them, and taking part in daily chores.

No matter how you get around in a new country, make sure you practice personal safety. Keep your passport and any spare passport photos in a safe location at all times, travel with a buddy whenever possible, and always let a friend or family member know your plans for the day.

Photo: ETR 450 by harlock81 licensed under Creative commons 2

What you shouldn’t take on your next trip

Of course, you’ve already thought about everything you need to take for that next vacation. Sun lotion, always. A swimsuit, shorts, a nice and corny floral print shirt. It’s always easy to think in terms of what you need; not so easy to think in terms of what you don’t (especially if the trip is a long one). Here is an absolute must on any vacation: reduce clutter to avoid the very real possibility of losing something important. So get rid of the technology you cradle like a teddy bear at night, the series of novellas, the extra wardrobe and read this list of must-nots.

1. Books

If you’re checking in a bag, books will not only weigh down on you but weigh down on your travel budget. If your bag is over 50 pounds, you could end up paying an extra 25 dollars for every 25 pounds over. Seriously, how many novellas are you going to get through when you’re sorting out directions, relaxing with other people, and experiencing new things every day? If you’re going to bring a book, bring the shortest one to give you the satisfaction of finishing it, or simply buy a Kindle so you can read on the plane.

2. More clothes than you need

The golden clothes ratio? One outfit for every three days you spend there. There will be at least one affordable clothing store with copious amounts of nice clothing, and you’ll need space in your bag to bring your purchases with you. If you’re concerned about hygiene and you’re travelling with more than just yourself, encourage them to do the same and do laundry together at a local spot. A laundry mat can be a great cultural site for learning, especially when some even have coffee shops, bars, or arcades waiting for you inside.

3. Laptops, cameras, and jewelry

It’s not uncommon for routine maintenance people in hotels to do an inside job and take valuables. If you need to go on a computer, look up computer rental shops, internet centers, and local libraries. Need a camera? Use your phone or invest in a nice digital one that you can always have on hand along with your keys, wallet, and passport (because you don’t want to end up taking another one of those passport photos, either!).

In short, your trip should be about making space for the new: new memories, friends, and experiences. Why do you want to stuff it all up with your personalized clutter?

5 tips for a trouble-free international vacation

International travel can be a lot of fun, but make sure you take the time to protect yourself against trouble along the way. A little prep work goes a very long way towards keeping your overseas holiday entertaining and stress-free.

1. Take care of passports early

Make sure you’ve secured passports for everyone going on the trip well in advance, just to be safe. Especially for the passports of any children; a child passport photo can be quite tricky to get through regulations. Consider using an online passport solution so you can use your own camera and handle things on your own schedule.

2. Read up on expected weather

Weather isn’t necessarily going to be like what you see in movies or travel brochures about your destination. Warm climates get chilly or rainy, hot climates get cold, etc. Make sure you know what sort of clothes you should REALLY be packing before you get there, or you’ll spend your trip miserable.

3. Know what can and can’t cross borders

There are a lot of treaties, customs officers and travel safety rules out there between you and your destination. Make sure you don’t get caught up by any of them along the way; rather innocuous items can be a big problem (and things you’d expect to be problems can be totally fine).

4. Make sure you have embassy information handy

If you’re contacting an embassy during an international trip, things aren’t really trouble-free, but it’s better than needing to contact the embassy and not being able to figure out how. Write it down, save it in the phones of everyone traveling with you and do whatever it takes to make sure if anyone needs them, they can reach them.

5. Check up on phone service and other details

It’s easy to get used to certain services being available everywhere – but not every service travels well. Whether it’s your phone service, certain aspects of your health insurance, or any of a dozen other little things you take for granted, not all of them are going to work the same way you expect them to when you start crossing borders. Make sure nothing you’re dependent upon is going to fail you.

4 things to consider when renewing your passport

Ready to renew your passport? Check out our top four things to keep in mind that will help make the process easier.

Know the regulations

Most passports can be renewed by mail. All you have to do is fill out a form at the post office and attach a passport photo and your old passport. Some exceptions to this include if you haven’t renewed in longer than 15 years, if your current passport is damaged or if you were younger than 16 when your last passport was issued.

Don’t leave it too late to renew

Renewing your passport takes time – anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks. Also, consider that if you need to arrange an appointment it could take even longer. The Department of State recommends renewing your passport within nine months of its expiry date, too – so always keep this date in mind and even set a reminder in your phone or diary so that you don’t miss it.

If you desperately need a passport because of an emergency, it is possible to obtain an expedited passport which takes around 8 business days with the option for overnight delivery or a same-day passport. They’re costly but an option if you have unexpected travel plans.

Save those pages

If you travel a lot, you might find that travel and visa stamps take up a lot of room. All passports come with 52 pages and you used to be able to request more; however, that’s no longer possible. In order to use less space, consider sticking Post-It notes over blank pages or asking customs officials not to stamp on specific pages. That way you won’t run the risk of having one stamp on every page and having to renew again earlier than you’d like!

Get your passport photos approved online

As well as knowing the regulations for renewing your passport, you also need to know the regulations for your passport photo. There are strict requirements on how your photo should appear and failing to comply could see your passport renewal delayed. You can also use an online passport photo approval service like Paspic to have peace of mind that your passport will be accepted.

Photo: Passport by Tony Webster licensed under Creative commons 2