People ask this question a lot: Are passport Covers really necessary?
Is anything really necessary? You are the master of your domain. You decide what's necessary. But I will tell you that Passport Holders saved my life... okay not exactly but they are a really great thing to have. Plus now I can't imagine not having one. At first I was skeptical. When I first started writing for these guys i was just a regular travel writer. Bitten by the travel bug I would travel and write about it. So I get here and they offer me a bunch of free products.
"Here, have a passport cover, it's our number one best seller."
I have to sheepishly admit when they offered me a passport holder, even though it was free, I silently and secretly turned my nose up at it. But since I was working here now and had to play nice, I took the Ganesha one and since they were offering I took a couple more for friends. International Money because it's a pretty damned good design and Flying Stamps because well, ditto.
Anyway, I slipped the Ganesha passport cover on my well worn Passport issued by the good 'ol US of A and as I did I realized the first benefit of the passport cover. It protects the book. That sounds like something a cop would say. (Standing up straight with hands on gun belt.)
"Ahem. Always protect the book. I said, Always protect THE BOOK."
Plus there have been cases when people have not been allowed to fly because their passport was too beat up.
IF you travel as much as I do, the passport book gets bounced around. I am hyper aware of where I keep my passport-- i.e. with me all the time. So I almost always stick it down in my pocket. I am paranoid about pickpockets and just want to be able to pat my pocket and know it's there. I realized as I put 'ol Ganesha on my passport, that this cover would've helped keep it a little cleaner and less scratched up.
The next benefit I realized when I checked into a hotel in France last summer. There was a small group of us but of course we had to give up our passports. AFter they did their thing xeroxing and poking and prodding and taking notes, they handed them back to us. Everyone's passport looked the same. Mine, however was bright orange and yellow with Ganesha-- the God of removing obstacles prominently smiling back at me. I grabbed my book while the other five flipped open the pages of each book looking for whose was whose. I distinctly remember having the thought: why the heck haven't I used one of these before?
Another benefit I realized is that a good passport holder design is a great conversation starter. On my last trip to India, I was asked no less than five times about my passport cover. Since I had done my homework, I explained how Ganesha is not only the remover of Obstacles, but known as the God that can help you make the impossible possible...( not to mention he will protect you from snakes on a plane! sorry, couldn't resist.) Everybody loves motivation so inevitably that spiraled into all kinds of sparkling conversation which was interesting and enjoyable. I made new friends. Best of all, my time spent waiting to board planes and riding on said planes was much more pleasant conversing with my lovely neighbors.
Okay-- I know you're wondering. Because we get asked this question all the time: Are passport holders allowed. Well of course they are. Why wouldn't they be. I am a bit of a libertarian so I get my feathers ruffled at this sort of question. I don't look around wondering if there's a law restricting me. I look for ways to enjoy my life and then if there's a good reason that something I am doing isn't recommended or "allowed" then I will adjust. Sorry for the soapbox. It's just that I see so many people post 9-11 living in fear and looking over their shoulders afraid of what is going to get them. Don't worry, be happy. It's all good.
Finally-- the biggest question we get is: Am I going to have to take my passport holder on and off again and be really annoyed? Well, this year I've gone international 4 times and not once has anyone asked me to take the cover off. Nowadays, everything is electronic. They scan the barcode or RFID chip and take an image of the passport and they don't need to look at the cover anymore. Only once a couple of years ago was I asked to take the cover off. Also, I think because there are so many awesome passport covers out there now, that the authorities are used to them and in many cases, if it's a cool design, they like them. This last time coming through customs in LA, I had a conversation with the Customs Officer. He asked what I do for a living and I said "porn actor." When he looked up fast, I said "Just kidding, I work for the company that makes the passport holder you're holding in your hands. He seemed impressed as he held it up and approvingly said "Ganesha. Nice." There you have it. The remover of obstacles. "You're free to go, sir." Thanks.