A few years ago, I made plans to fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Bucharest on the day before Thanksgiving. I was going to be gone for four days. (I know — crazy, right?)

It had been several years since I had traveled internationally, and this trip had come up sort of last-minute. I found my passport (major victory) and noted that it was good until February.

I packed my carry-on and arranged with a Romanian friend to buy hair conditioner so I wouldn’t have to check a bag. (Even over just four days my head requires way more conditioner than I could legally take in a carry-on bag.) Got to the airport three hours early. (It was, after all, the day before Thanksgiving.)

I got through security in one minute, which left me three hours before my flight.

At boarding time, I handed my passport and boarding pass to the agent. Sorry, she said. No good. “Your passport expires in four months,” she said.

“Right,” I said. “But I’m coming home Sunday.”

This is when I found out about the six-month rule: Many countries won’t let you in if your passport is within six months of expiring.

The gate agent had a hard time explaining to me why this was so, and at that point I didn’t care why. I cared about Romania: What were their rules? Would they let me in?

“If you were staying in Amsterdam,” the agent said, clicking through her computer, trying to find the necessary information, “they wouldn’t let you off the plane. I think they’ll let you change planes, though. If you don’t try to leave the airport.”

Finally she found the appropriate page. Romania! Ah, lovely Romania. No requirements. Come on down.

So, my advice: Check the expiration date on your passport, and then check the country requirements at tinyurl.com/jmc25up. Happy traveling! By the way, Romania is great this time of year.


Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg is on vacation.