You've probably heard about the embarrassing backlog of 3 million U.S. passport applications. I was there, my friend. See, I sent in my renewal application back in March. My travel plans didn't have me leaving the country until the end of June, so I didn't bother to pay extra for the expedited service.
Processing times were listed as six to eight weeks, with some applications taking as long as 10 weeks to complete. No problem. I wasn't leaving for another 13 weeks.
You can already tell where this is heading. By mid-June, my passport hadn't arrived. The online status check was spitting back the same "processing" explanation that it had for months. You're encouraged to call if you're leaving the country within 14 days to speak to a rep. After a half-dozen calls -- padded with huge wait times, misinformation, and false promises -- I never got my passport in time.
Instead of dreaming of the turquoise beach waters of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos as a tropical paradise -- which it was, by the way -- my ultimate getaway was preceded by stress, scrambling to secure my birth certificate, and an interminably long airport check-in line because I didn't have my passport.
In a cruel twist, my passport was waiting for me when I got home.
I'm not alone
New passport requirements have led to a surge in demand for new applications. The widely reported backlog is forcing more summer travelers to go with the two-week expedited premium service, yet that bottleneck has pushed conventional renewals well past their stated turnaround times.
I've let anyone within earshot know that paying for the expedited processing is a must at this point. Yet I have also let folks know that if I could do it all over again, I would probably have made travel plans closer to home.
That's an investing theme, folks. I'm not the only one who got hosed. There are 3 million angry citizens scrambling for answers. Some countries have lightened their entry and exit requirements as a result of our snafu, but the collective response is probably finding many folks postponing their treks out of the country this year.
Connect the dots, and you may be able to find some stocks that will turn in healthy near-term results.
Stocks to ride out the passport processing blunder
So where will those overseas travel dollars be spent? If global travel providers like cruise lines, international air carriers, and overseas hospitality plays miss out on some of this summer's vacation dollars, where will they go? I've got a few ideas.
Great Wolf Resorts
More stocks, closer to home
Beyond the obvious regional travel plays, what about the potential overseas travelers who decide to just stay put? Where will that money go? Most will stash it away, saving it for a trip next year when the passport-processing calamity cools. However, I would argue that some of that money will be spent here -- and now -- to make summer more bearable and productive.
Here are a few homebody stocks that I see as winners in the passport mess.
It's a small, small world
Obviously, the passport-processing situation will straighten itself out. And I certainly don't want to rain on anyone's globetrotting parade. There are so many fascinating places to see outside the country, and you should definitely check them out if you have the means and the time.
However, the best advice now is to wait until you have your passport before plunking down any serious coin on some nonrefundable overseas getaway. And that means this summer belongs to the home team.
As an investor, play it that way.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did have a great time on Grace Bay Beach -- once he finally landed in Providenciales. He does own units in Cedar Fair. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.