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Last one to Walgreens is a rotten egg

The real amazing race: Beating the new passport fees

If you're like the typical Houstonian, then this tropical weather has you confined to your indoor mouse hole to take refuge from the summer sizzle.

Perhaps you've been a bit industrious in your hibernation — re-categorizing your socks, dusting under your fallow books on the shelves and daydreaming of vacations to colder climes.

You also happened to come across a tiny blue booklet in one of your dresser drawers. "What's this?" you asked yourself. You flipped through. There are stamps from Germany, Spain, and France. "My passport!" you exclaim.

The wheels begin turning. A getaway is precisely what you need. Visions of Iceland, Argentina, and maybe just Canada dance through your head.

You peer curiously at the inside front cover. "My passport was issued in 1999, so that means ..." you trail off.

Uh oh. Your passport is expired.

But if you act quickly, you can be out of our homeland's jurisdiction by early fall.

This Tuesday (that's tomorrow, kids), you'll see a significant hike in passport fees — for both new and renewal applications. First-time applicants will find themselves forking up $135 (a $15 increase), while those of us with existing blue books will shell out $110 ($35 more!) for the privilege to travel under the protection of U.S. citizenship.

What does this all mean? Fill out your application online right now. We'll meet you at Walgreens for passport photos in an hour, and race you to the post office to get it postmarked by the end of the day.

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