Dear Heloise: While waiting to board a ship for our cruise, the family ahead of us had one member denied the right to board the ship because he was told the passport must be valid for at least six months from the day of departure. His passport was valid for only three more months, but we all expected to be back in the United States, long before the three months was up. Is this legal?

Jeri and Larry B., Oxnard, Calif.

Jeri and Larry B.: We checked and were told that the United States does not make this requirement, but there are other countries that do, and it’s more than likely that the ship would have been docking at one or more countries that do have that requirement. Before you go on any trip abroad, I recommend checking with the website Travel.state.gov, or calling for information at 877-487-2778.

Dear Heloise: Whenever we fly, my son says his ears hurt him. Any hints on how to help him?

Lucille E., Southfield, Mich.

Lucille E.: We consulted with an otolaryngologist, who recommended that you have your son blow up a balloon at takeoff and when landing to equalize the pressure in his ears. Yawning or chewing gum also might help.

Dear Heloise: My father was always fussy about personal hygiene, but now that he's in his 80s, he is refusing to bathe. He claims he doesn't need to shower, but you can smell him from across the room. His clothes are washed and ironed by me, so I know his clothing is clean, but he isn't. What can we do to get him to bathe every day, or at least every other day?

Judy P., Biloxi, Miss.

Judy P.: There could be a number of reasons associated with his refusal to bathe. Sometimes depression sets in, which can make an elderly person not care about personal issues. His sense of smell will have declined, making it harder for him to know how he smells. Maybe he’s afraid he’ll fall in the shower. You should consult with his doctors to see what they recommend.

Dear Heloise: My fiance and I are getting married in the fall. We're in our 40s, so we each have a household full of goods and don't need gifts. Instead, we'd like to list about five charities that we'd prefer people made a donation to rather than giving us items we don't need. We want to have this printed on our wedding invitation, as we believe that money spent on those in need is money well spent.

Cory and Jill, Wilmington, Del.

Cory and Jill: Best wishes to both of you, and thank you for your kind and generous natures.

Dear Heloise: I somehow managed to get plastic stuck to my iron. How do I get it off?

Ken W. in Honolulu

Ken W. in Honululu: Make sure the iron has cooled off, then try wiping it with nail polish remover. Wipe again with a cloth dampened with water to remove the nail polish remover.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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