Your passport may not be valid -

3 On Your Side

Your passport may not be valid

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Kristen Howerton and children. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kristen Howerton and children. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

It’s travel time! That means once-in-a-lifetime vacations or glamorous getaways.

Before you go, what’s on your checklist? Flight and hotel? Booked. Bags? Packed.

Read all the passport rules for where you’re going? No?!

Just because you have a valid passport doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing--- ‘er, flying.

Just ask Kristen Howerton. She loves to travel with her family, so she planned a meaningful trip to Haiti for her son’s 10th birthday.

“My son Kembe was born in Haiti, so it is a place we visit often,” says Howerton.

She and her family are no travel rookies, so she did the normal things to prepare: “…made sure our flights were in order, made sure we had someone picking us up at the airport. And then I checked the passports.”

Her kids’ passports were valid for five months, so she figured she was good to go.

Then, a friend told her Haiti requires passports to be valid for six months. She says she was surprised “because my assumption is the expiration date is the last date you could travel.”

According to the State Department, each country has its own rules regarding passports.

And it’s not just the expiration you need to think about.

George Hobica of says, “Some destinations won’t even let you into the country if you don’t have a blank page. Some visas require two pages” on your passport.

Passports aren’t the only potential issue. Hobica says, “One of our readers on was late for a flight leaving from Dublin to London. She got on another flight from Dublin to London, but the airline cancelled all her other remaining segments because she missed her original flight.”

He says if you do miss a flight, reconfirm remaining reservations. And, whether you’re flying international or domestic, you can sometimes save money by mixing and matching airlines.

“A lot of airlines now sell the one-way fare for exactly half the lowest round-trip price,” he says.

In the end, Howerton flew off to Haiti for the trip of a lifetime with two of her kids, even though she had to pay nearly $600 to expedite the passports.

She would like the rules more front and center, saying, “I feel like it would be helpful if the State Department sent a letter when you get your passport that articulated that the expiration date is not necessarily your last possible date of travel.”

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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