Collect virtual passport stamps with VisaStamper

passport stampsIt’s a favorite ritual for many travelers to leaf through their passport (often while waiting in an immigration line), reminiscing on each stamp and the destination it represents. When a passport is lost or expired, losing all those hard-earned stamps can be tragic. VisaStamper is a new website that creates a virtual passport, with photo-realistic stamps for each place you visit. The site currently has passport stamps for every country, with city-specific stamps for the US, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Ireland & Germany, and more every day. You can share your passport stamps on Facebook and Twitter, and collect “points” for each stamp in your VisaStamper passport.

VisaStamper works via your computer’s IP address location, automatically generating a stamp for the country you’re currently in. You can “backdate” your virtual passport by submitting your destination list and dates via email, though an easier form is in production. Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android are on the way in the new year to work via GPS and make sharing even easier.

Sign up and start collecting at VisaStamper.com (you can check out my stamps here) and visit them on Facebook. Happy (virtual) travels!

Conserve passport space by skipping the US entry stamp

It’s been a long hard seven years of traveling together, but this week I determined that my passport is going to die young. With an expiration date in 2014 and extra pages already stapled into the center, my passport has been through a lot with me, numerous trips to doctor for vaccinations, crumpled in my back pocket in public transportation from Malaysia to Indonesia to Dakar to Istanbul, brief time apart at the the Indian, Russian, Vietnamese consulates. With each new destination another stamp and another border crossing, the Quetzal bird flying across the Guatemalan tourist visa and the postage stamp style visas in Egypt and Jordan.

Now, three years prior to its expiration date and just after getting two pages of Indian visas, there are precious few slots left in my road worn passport, just a few more possibilities before I’m due back at the post office. I certainly can’t get any more full page sticker visas, and if I travel conservatively I figure I’ve only got about six months left.

One way to conserve space though is at immigration on the way back into the United States. For American citizens it’s not a requirement to have each and every inbound border crossing stamped. As a result, page-stingy travelers like myself can politely ask the homeland security officer to not leave any ink. Those few remaining spots can mean one or two last trips squeezed out before the dreaded trip back