I like magnets. A LOT. But collecting magnets has it’s downsides, for example if I have a ton of magnets my children can put more art on the fridge. They seem oblivious to the fact that there are layers of previous artwork as long as they can find a magnet they are going to use it. Additionally, the magnets I have purchased at National Park gift shops are sturdy and fully capable of magneting through lots of paper. So I only buy a magnet once in a while now, like when it is amazingly cool (I’m looking at you Abe Lincoln finger puppet and 8 Presidents of Ohio magnets.) But I do like a little something. Enter the National Park Passport!
It is a great little book that you can cancel (stamp) at every site with a unique stamp that includes the park name and date. There are also other stamps that the park service releases that are thematic like the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Stamp and will be found at pertinent sites. I bought one for my two oldest kids and have huge regrets about not buying one for myself. There is also a Kids Companion passport that has more activities and groups parks thematically rather than regionally which is handy. I bought one of those and I consult it sometimes, but I do like that it has a place to list all the parks you’ve been to though no room for cancelling. My daughter is excellent at carrying her passport but my son is missing a few parks that we have visited. The passport cancelling is an ink stamp, just like a traveling passport. This is not to be confused with the commemorative stamp sets that are pictorial and basically stickers to add to your book. Those can be purchased online, but the cancellation stamps cannot. You can send a self addressed stamped envelope with a slip of paper to most sites and they will send you the stamped paper back if you forget to cancel your passport while visiting.
As we have been doing this for a couple years now I seriously regret not buying myself a passport. I found all the multiple use of the word “Stamp” to be too confusing when I was ordering online and I couldn’t really get a sense of what exactly was supposed to happen. Now that I have done it I have no idea why it was confusing because it’s pretty easy. When we hit the next park I am going to look at getting a big fancy one that will be a super pain to lug around so that in my golden years I can look at all our travels. Hopefully by then I will have forgotten how much time I spend asking everyone if they have their passport, refusing to buy magnets or yet another compass to lose, or chasing a baby while spelling words over my shoulder so a kid can finish writing their passionate declarations about protecting National Parks.