The time we traveled internationally without a passport

Yep, that's pretty much what this story is all about. How Hratch (the Armenian hunk that is my life) managed to travel internationally without a frikkin passport.


And just so you know, we're not VIP's, we're not even IP's. So if you're up in a bunch mentally thinking "well they must have connections" or "they probably just knew a diplomat". Nuh-uh!

Hate to burst your little bubble, but we're just a typical immigrant couple with a typical life and a typical network of people. Ain't nothin' special here.

So what's the story?

As much as I love Hratch more than life itself, procrastination is a hobby he loves to pursue - much like the endless hours he can spend on his playstation, routinely kicking a ball into a goal via made-believe animated men in short shorts. My incessant nagging rarely ever works and so rather than getting pent up by the fact that he's leaving his packing to the last minute, cause Adrenaline Rush, I took a step back and gave him the space to do his own thing.

He's a grown ass man (and a fine one at that).

But I digress!

We were both catching flights to D.C. - same day, different times (don't ask!). I was heading out in the a.m. and him in the p.m. Being the minimalist that I am (or at least pretend to be), I packed one little backpack with my laptop, a few shirts and a book for the flight.

But my backpack is like no other.

It's the kind with a thousand infinite zippers - you'd think it's a prop from a spy kids movie, that you can literally stuff it with a pizza box and there'd still be room for more shit to pack.

So I head out, passport in hand, snack in mouth (I get hungry a lot) and made my way through the nightmare that is the Toronto subway to make it to the airport.

One long podcast and 2 bags of chips later, I landed on American soil.

I pulled up my phone, disabled airplane mode and was bombarded by a string of messages from Hratch.

"Nadine, do you know where my passport is?"


I figured it would be another classic "it's right in front of you Hratch" situation.

He insisted it wasn't where I instructed him it was.

Now that was a head scratcher.

As a last resort, he prompted me to check my backpack.

I ruffled through the zoo of zippers and low and behold, his passport was tucked and buried in there oh-so-discretely. There was just no way I would've caught it. And how did his passport get in my backpack anyway?

Not the point!

We only had a few hours till his flight took off and we were in panic mode.

We both went down a rabbit hole of phone calls and got all-too-familiar with the string of hotel-like music when we're asked to stay on "hold".

He's calling Canadian immigration on his end, I'm calling American TSA office on mine.

We're explaining and pleading that I'm in possession of his passport and would be willing to be on standby or hand his passport to an official agent who'd hand it to Hratch when he landed, much like a poorly constructed relay race.

Yeah, every agent chuckled at us.

"It's never gonna happen" - they said.

But we were ruthless and if there's anything I've ever learned from Hratch, it's two things:

  1. You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, AND

  2. Staying calm is a virtue

So I stood idly by at Dulles airport, with knots in my tummy, camping outside the cafeteria where agents would take their lunch breaks.

You have to bear in mind, I'm a VERY shy person but with all my might, I'd approach one agent after the next, describing the situation like I was a broken record.

Till finally ONE AGENT told us some groundbreaking information!

We needed to call some sort of office (can't even remember the name) to get a background check and approval of his travel, provided I hand over the passport to an official officer and Hratch manages to get clearance from the airline to board.

Now handing over the passport was no problem, getting airline clearance was a whole other story!

You see, no airline wants to ever bear the responsibility of on-boarding a traveler without a passport.

And so it was all up to Hratch to persuade the airline to board him.

It's 20 mins till the flight takes off, he hasn't gone through clearance, hasn't checked in his bag and I'm on the other side of the world wishing and hoping for some sort of God damn miracle.

Even though I was doubtful, I just knew with his charisma, patience and his over-the-top-Canadian-politeness, he'd manage to convince the hostess to board him - and guess what? I wasn't wrong.

We now have 10 mins left - I shit you not, I can't be making this up.

He still has to check his bag, go through clearance, run an entire acre through the airport just to make it in time to catch his flight.

My heart's pounding, I pace back and forth in the airport.

And I get it, you might be thinking "what's the big deal? he can just catch another flight".

Well very BIG deal, thank you very much!

Just cause he managed to get clearance this time, doesn't mean it would be a done deal the next time around, and that's not to mention the fact that it was a weekend trip and we were already a Saturday. So, yeah.

His name being blasted (and badly mispronounced) on the speaker "Calling Hratch Mikaelian to flight XYZ, Last call for Hratch Mikaelian".

He keeps racing on through till finally he boarded the plane only seconds before take off.

I get the message "I made it".


Enjoying our walk in sunny D.C.

So why am I telling you all this?

This was a very defining moment in our relationship (and our life!).

It gave us the push & confidence to literally do the impossible!

We now not only have a funny (and impressive) story to share with friends and loved ones, but we developed a skill that allows us to figure out literally anything.

Mission impossible is just a hollywood movie glorified by Tom Cruise.

But real life? In our heart of hearts, we truly believe that nothing in life cannot be figured out.

When push comes to shove, when you want something bad enough, you'll go through every possible scenario to make it work.


Now we could've played the blame game:

- "Why the hell did you pack your passport in my bag?"

- "Well, why didn't you check the bag?" And sure it did start off that way, for like 30 seconds! But what would that have resulted?

- Being resentful towards one another.

- Me vacationing on my own rather than having him by my side.

We went into the "figure it out" mode and ever since then, that's the only way we ever adopt solutions to any shitty situation.

Everything in life can be negotiated.


So if something in your business (or life) isn't working, what are you gonna do about it?

Are you just going to stand by in victim mode, going all "life is unfair" like a teenager passing a Blink 182 punk phase with badly black coloured chipped nails?

Or are you going to put your big boy pants on and figure the shit out of it?

I know what I would do - cause I fucking did.

What about you? What was a situation that seemed impossible that you managed to totally dominate? Better yet, what are your thoughts? Was Hratch wrong to have not packed earlier? Or was I the perpetrator who was supposed to thoroughly check her backpack before heading out? Comment below!

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