I used to travel all the time. It was the thing I saved up my money for and felt so excited to do, seeing new places, visiting friends, and even the travel journey itself was enjoyable to me. Now that I'm a mother, I travel much less often, although I'm sure if you asked someone near to me, they'd say I still travel a lot.
Having studied French and German in college I was lucky enough to study abroad during school and also lived in France after graduation, traveling a fair amount of Europe. But moving to California after I married and then having a baby--the trip to Europe seemed far too daunting and I haven't been in 6 years! One of my best friends who now lives in New Zealand was going home to England for the summer and I couldn't resist the opportunity to see him and his sister who had recently had a baby. So, my summer travel plans commenced. The logistics of the trip were daunting, but the first step was getting my son a passport.
I've always gone to a drug store to get my passport pictures done, "professionally". I was worried that I wouldn't be able to have the right size, spacing or focus to be accepted by the Department of State's Guidelines and that would set me back in the process. But looking over their website I realized that they never specified it had to be a $14.99 photo from Walgreen's, but rather the specifications were mostly regarding size, having a white background and not smiling.
So, in order to make the process easier (and cheaper!) on myself and my son, I decided to try to do it at home. I quickly grabbed my son one morning, put a fleece on him and zipped it up (he was still in his pajamas lol) and told him that we were going to take a picture so he could go on an airplane. Since he is a toddler boy and obsessed with all moving vehicles, that was enough incentive for my normally camera shy kid. I sat him on a stool adjacent to our kitchen oven and snapped a few shots:
It would also work to use a large white posterboard from the dollar store or amazon if you really don't want to leave the house at all for this project.
I used my camera then edited the photo on my phone, but this could have all been done with a cell phone. If you were doing your own passport photo it would work to ask someone to take it, but you could also prop your phone up and use a self timer.
I chose what I thought to be the best (and cutest!) picture of my son and edited it on the Snapseed app so that I could crop it and brighten up the white background.
Once I felt like the background was white enough, I uploaded it to Walgreens Online Photo Center and chose the 2x3 Wallet Size Photo Option. At $0.99 per photo, I did a few different variations and then searched for a coupon code, so in all I spent less than $4.00 to have my son's passport picture ready the same day!
After it was printed, I completed the necessary paperwork from the Department of State Website and brought everything to a local library in my area that began offering Passport Services. They just started this a few months ago and it couldn't have been easier, especially since they were so accommodating, they sat with me in the children's room to complete the paperwork while my son played at the train table! If you're local to Southern New Hampshire, check out the Milford Library's new passport service here, it's worth the drive!
I still can't believe how much easier it was to do this at home and hope this helps. Let me know if you have any great travel tips or tricks--I'm always on the hunt to make traveling easier, especially with kids in tow!