Last year I got lucky enough to visit the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse while it was “open” to visitors. As I was talking to the volunteers and visited their gift shop, I saw the Lighthouse Passport Book. This is similar to the National Park Passport, where you can stamp the book with cancelation stamps during your visits at different lighthouses.
In this case, the passport program is part of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. I like the idea of collecting stamps in a passport. No matter if it’s my travel passport or now the Lighthouse passport. It is a fun way of tracking where you been and gives you something to grab and hold on to. Besides that, you will earn patches for every passport book you complete. To complete a passport book, you have to collect 60 unique stamps or take photos of 60 lighthouses and put it in your passport. But taking a picture and putting it in a passport is almost like cheating. I mean yes you have been to the lighthouse but maybe after closing hours. That’s like saying you went to a museum and never stepped inside it.
To get your patch, you have to either send in your original passport book or a scan of your passport book to the USLHS Passport Fulfillment Service. If you decide to send your passport book in, you will get it back with your patch. There are a total of eleven levels of accomplishment in the U.S. Lighthouse Society Passport Program. Each level requires you to have a passport book with 60 stamps/pictures send in and verified.
But why going through all the hassle of collecting stamps instead of just visiting the lighthouse. Stamp availability depends on many factors like season, operation hours, location,…
Once you complete a book with stamps only, you get another patch honoring this achievement of a “stamp only passport book”.
Besides the fact of collecting stamps, I always loved to visit lighthouses. Why? Well, they are usually near a body of water and hey, who doesn’t love water? Lighthouses are usually located at spots with a good view of the ocean and to be easily seen from approaching ships. Mostly where there is good visibility to be seen from ships. That could be on top of a cliff, on a levee, and other locations. Lighthouses also come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and colors. The colors lighthouses are painted in, helps to identify the lighthouse during the day, while at night it’s identified by the pattern of flashes or eclipses of the light.
While visiting lighthouses, I love to learn more about the history of them. It’s amazing how much love and passion people put into the upkeep and maintenance of these lighthouses all over the country and world. Lighthouses come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and colors, which helped sailors to identify them and tell them apart from other lighthouses in the area.
Only U.S. lighthouses count towards achieving the different levels and receiving patches. There are a few exceptions to that, for example, some lighthouses in Canada have stamps and they will count. However, photographs of lighthouses outside the US won’t count to complete the passport and receive your patch. Either way, I will still visit lighthouses domestic and international for the above-mentioned reasons. The money you spend on admission and donate to the lighthouse will be used for their upkeep, which is really important as it is part of history. Not all of them require an admission, however, some are located inside parks, which will require admission.
Passport Book Tips
As I started with my first stamp at the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, I also wrote the date right underneath it to keep track of when I visited. There is no official requirement for that, but I think it will be a helpful addition while collecting these stamps. The stamps are as unique as the lighthouses themselves and come in different sizes and shapes. Some of them are even so big, to cover up to two spots in the book. Luckily there are some extra pages in the back and that should help me to squeeze all 60 stamps into one book.
I also highly recommend you to get an empty sheet of paper which you can put over your new stamp to cover it while wet. Otherwise, you might run the chance of getting a copy of the stamp on the opposite side of the passport.
Where to get your Passport Book
You have two options to get your passport book. You can order it online at the Society’s Keeper’s Locker or buy one at participating stamp locations. Be aware, not every lighthouse with a stamp will also sell passport books.
U.S. Lighthouse Society Passport Club
To earn your patches you have to join the USLHS Passport Club. Don’t worry, it is for free and offers the following benefits.
- The official Passport Club Stamp image will be sent to you via email for you to paste in your Passport.
- Stamp Flashes – The Club’s e-newsletter containing stamp collecting tips and information about new stamp locations.
- Award level patches for collecting stamps and recognition in the Passport Club Hall of Fame.
- 10% discount on future passports when purchased by calling Society Headquarters.
- Upon completion of your first Passport Book, in addition to your first award patch, you will also receive a unique lighthouse bumper/luggage sticker: I Brake for Lighthouses.
Join the U.S. Lighthouse Society and become a full member with additional benefits. Your membership fees will be used to “save the light”. More information about the different levels of memberships is available on the official homepage.
Have you started your passport yet and how many stamps do you have?
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.