Tape a list of each of your family members' passport expiration dates and the date you need to start renewing them on the outside of your passport file. Just so you don't have to worry (am I the only one who does that?), begin renewing them at least 3-6 months before the expiration. I hesitate to write this because I am a recovering procrastinator and this would just give me license to wait, but for a US passport, if you live in the US it can take as little as 5 days to 6 weeks depending on if you want expedited service and how long it takes the US postal system to get it to you. If you live in Asia? Africa? The Stans? Eastern Europe? You're gonna need a bit more time. Check with your embassy; they'll know. Here are a few links for passport renewals.
Okay, funny story (now I can say that). This last summer my family was moving to Belgrade, Serbia, our next post. We had sold our car and rented our house. We were outta there! We arrived at Dulles Airport feeling quite pleased with ourselves that we were 3 1/2 hours early for our flight. We lugged all eight 50 pound pieces of luggage and 8 carry-ons to the ticket counter and handed the agent our passports. She looked up and asked, "I need your daughter's current passport. This one is expired." Yes, after more than 10 years of doing this, we let our daughter's passport expire. Our excuse? Her's was on a different schedule than the rest of us. Whatever. My husband and son flew to Belgrade that day while my daughter and I lugged our four 50 pound pieces of luggage and 4 carry-ons back to the curb and hailed a cab. Luckily, we had the cell number for our friends in Chantilly who hosted us until we had a valid passport in hand. Good grief. This is how I learn the hard way.
Spouses, any other passport advice? Or would you rather just leave us behind? Please, share your wisdom. Or do you have a travel story that tops mine? Please, give us a chuckle!