Travel Nightmares – When Your Passport Expires While Travelling

My last post about Losing a Tooth got me thinking about other times that disaster has struck whilst travelling. On this particular occasion it was something quite simple that could have been checked before we left for our trip although as with everything you do regularly, there is room for complacency. After a week in Singapore celebrating a close friends wedding, all dreamy-eyed we were set to board a flight to Indonesia. Disaster struck upon arrival at the Air Asia desk – we were told we would not be boarding the plane.

Every traveller’s worst nightmare: missing a flight. I had meticulously planned the trip down to the hour as I was writing about seven resorts and several restaurants on the trip. Transfers, boats and even massages had been booked so if we missed the early morning boat transfer then the domino effect would begin. Note to self – in future don’t book boat transfers for the morning after you arrive in the country! The reason behind the refusal was that my partners’ passport was a few days short of six-month validity and Indonesia had a very strict policy on this (even a baby had apparently been refused the previous week). Suddenly my mothers face appeared in my head with a smug grin, the five valid family passports in hand – now that was organisation. We tried everything, even the honeymoon card but it was no use, we would not be boarding that flight.

An extortionate taxi ride to the German embassy left us looking at a closed office and panic ensued, we had heard it takes up to three days to get a new passport which would completely scrap the Gili Islands trip. All of a sudden an angel appeared in the form of an overworked consular officer. The sob story continued and she went back to the office and phoned my partners’ hometown in Germany. She kindly agreed to print a new passport as a show of good faith.

I imaged the scene five minutes later. My partner and I (two very western looking people) were hurtling through a Singaporean mall desperately looking for a passport photo machine, clearing everything and everyone in our paths.

When we finally found a shop who took pictures they insisted on photoshopping my partners’ pictures to perfection (another note to self, for next passport photo). At this point, it was highly unnecessary – I mean he’s already so beautiful… but mainly for the fact that time was of the essence.

Finally, a new passport in hand, a few blog business cards dropped at the Embassy and we were on our way to the airport. Of course via another extortionate taxi ride only acquired after my partner had screamed to the taxi queue ‘this is an emergency – SORRY!’ whilst simultaneously hurling his iced coffee towards the bin.  Now I’m actually wondering how I managed to miss the iced coffee boat.

We begged the help desk for another flight and luckily we got one that same night. Unluckily it was $700 more expensive than the original flight, adding the fees from the embassy made this the most expensive passport in history. For the next year, my partner continued to travel around on his strange green passport, being stopped in every land and interrogated over its authenticity and origin. Australian Immigration even classed him as a Singaporean Citizen on his visa.

So, moral of the story, to avoid a heap of stress and an unnecessary hang session at the embassy of your choice, always check your passport and country you are travelling to’s immigration rules, it could cost you your holiday or the price of a new one.

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