Getting a REAL ID

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Let’s talk about REAL ID for travelers. I want to hear your opinions on this issue and check to see if your clients have been asking you about it.

I have heard from many friends here in Los Angeles that they wasted about 4 hours of their precious time getting their REAL ID. Hearing that, I got a knot on my stomach because patience is not one of my virtues and waiting in big lines causes me anxiety. I asked them if they had appointments and they told me that they certainly did, and despite that, they spent about 4 hours there.

My driver’s license needs to be renewed in November of this year.  I’ve been debating with me, myself and I (the three of us, LOL!) if I should get my REAL ID, or just renew by mail and bring along my passport when I travel inside the US.

I also have another issue with my driver’s license. In 2005 I had a LASIK surgery done on my eyes because I was nearsighted, and in 2012 (when I was 50 years old) I started to need eyeglasses because I became farsighted, so I had PRK surgery. Since then, I don’t need eyeglasses anymore. My vision in both eyes is 20/20 but one eye sees far and the other is sees close. Because of this, I can’t pass the DMV eye test; I need a letter from my doctor explaining the procedure. Not everyone at the DMV understands this.

Well, despite the knowledge of my friends’ experience, my inability to deal with lines, waiting, and anxiety, all topped off with concern over my eyesight blessings (?), I decided to try to get my REAL ID, and made an appointment for 09/11 at 9am at the Hollywood DMV.

On Wednesdays they open at 9am. I arrived there at 8:15am (yes, I like to be early) and the line was already around the corner. But, there is a special line for those with appointments. Thanks to my husband for being so detail oriented – he noticed this small, little sign close to the door while I went to get into line.

About 45 minutes later, I was number ONE in line for appointments (did I say thanks to my husband?) and in 20 MINUTES I was out.

I had brought all the required paperwork, I sent in my form online prior to my appointment, and I had everything ready to show them.

Were they friendly? Well, I asked very politely to see how my picture looked and the agent said, “There are others waiting in line!”  At least I can say they were very professional!

When it came to the eye test, I provided my eye doctor’s paperwork (which I got from their website) and the person knew exactly what it was all about!

Maybe if I wasn’t number 1 in line, I could have saved 45 minutes from my waiting time and been there on time at 9am, or only 10 minutes prior.  I could have done all in 30 minutes with no wait. Lesson learned!

I highly recommend getting the REAL ID, especially if you need to renew your driver’s license soon. Please make an appointment, organize your paperwork, and if possible, get acquainted with the DMV you will be visiting prior to the appointment so you don’t wait in the big line together with the “walk-ins.”

Let me know your experience with REAL ID has been!  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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