Back in the good old days of travel, your passport was an interesting and personal account of your international travels. Each country stamped you in and out with their own quirky stamp and colored ink and you could happily reminisce on some happy vacations just by idly flicking through the pages.
With the introduction of the Schengen Agreement it opened up Europe’s borders to become more like state lines with no immigration controls or “Douane”. It certainly simplifies travel for tourists but it does take away that spirit of boastful adventure.
With the European Union’s open borders, EU residents can travel around Europe every day of the year and still have a passport filled with bare and empty pages. Where’s the fun in that? Even Americans on multi-country tours will normally only have their passport stamped twice; once on arrival and again on departure.
However, those wishing to have a souvenir stamp in their passport should make a point of visiting luxury hotels in countries which still do take pride in paying an official to put an official stamp in your passport. For Americans, fly into the UK (stamp) then fly into one of the countries in the Schengen zone (stamp). Take the bus, train or car across the borders of the former Yugoslavia now divided into Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and on into Albania and it will yield a further fine collection of passport stamps in all types of indecipherable alphabets.
Other Eastern European countries such as Turkey, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will add to the rubber inked pages and if you visit the Republic of San Marino, an enclave of Italy, you can even have the pleasure of paying €5 for a stamp.
So if your passport is looking a little boring, consider taking up stamp collecting – the rubber stamp kind - and liven up your passport, and your cultural experiences!
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels