Travel Essentials: Passport Photos

In the past two years, I have renewed my Driver’s License, I have renewed my British Passport, and I applied for my first ever Irish Passport. And while it is all relatively simple, to find a local photobooth, and to pay a quick £5 for 4 passport photo prints. It really isn’t a long-term solution when travelling regularly. For a start, many applications require 2 passport photos, meaning the above example would actually cost me £10. Then add in travel and the cost of passport photos can quickly spiral. But it is more of a problem of the past, as it’s becoming relatively simple to just buy passport photos online with Tomamor and have them delivered to your door (delivery is only available in the US atm but you can always choose the file option and receive a jpeg file that can be printed anywhere in the world. Prints are in a 4×6 format then just can cut along the edge of the photo for the passport/visa. Anyway, you buy in bulk, they deliver them directly to your door, and you both cuts costs, and rid of them inevitable hassles in travel down the line.

The Travel Visas

I don’t actually travel often, except for what it is necessary, as I am otherwise based in Thailand for half the year on tourist visas. But this also means renewing visas every couple of months to remain, and to do this I have to jump borders into other countries, with more visas, and you’d be surprised how quickly passport photos can disappear. And I honestly can’t remember just how many times I’ve been ripped off with the ‘captive marketing’ prices after turning up unprepared for visa applications. So I used to set aside entire days in Bangkok, when we would travel to the cheap print shops of Ladprao District, to have passport photos taken and printed, before travelling all the way back again to the centre of Bangko. Paying for two taxis, and the MRT underground fare, in each direction.

The Usual Problems

Aside from the obvious frustrations of being ripped-off at the tourist trap photo shops when travelling, we do find all sorts of unlikely problems when trying to have passport photos printed abroad. For a start, there will always be the language barrier and frustrations of communication, especially when in smaller towns, and when travelling in obscure destinations. Then there are the annoyances of specific requirements, and I remember having to apply for a Visa to visit India, where the passport photo was to be square (2×2 inch, 51x51mm) rather than the “traditional” rectangular shape. Again, add in the language barriers, and the capabilities of local print shops, and these situations can be a bit of a disaster.

Be Prepared

These days I have sleaves full of passport photos in both Thailand and the U.K. And I always have a small packet in my wallet when I travel. The same goes for Fanfan. And if we ever do run low, we just reorder in bulk, for a fraction of the cost of these individual trips to photo booths and local print shops. So passport photos are never really a problem for us anymore. Meaning we have no more panicked searches for photos for visa applications, there’s no more fumbling through language barriers, and we are no longer being ripped off for something that is otherwise so cheap and simple to organise. As there’s really just no need to frustrate our travels with something so simple.

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