Hi, Ed, and welcome.
RE: Passports and procedures. It is not hard. Go ahead and fill out the application. Don't worry about putting in a destination
, or just put in an easy one, like Canada
. There are some significant delays at some of the processing stations (as they've said in the news), so it is good idea to go ahead and get them, before you "have" to have them.
Visas are needed for some countries, but not others. www.noonsite.com
has a section called "countries" that can give you a good rundown on the procedures for different places. Lots of other good info, too.
Some of our Aussie friends here (use the search function and it will pull up the threads) have given fair warning and good advice about their regs. It actually doesn't sound all that onerous, so long as you know about it and can comply. Those who didn't know, or were told otherwise, learned about them, the hard and expensive way. While I personally think Aussie customs
is going way beyond reasonable in their regs, it is their country and we would be the visitors, so it is up to us to comply. My personal experience has been that entering the US is often more difficult than most other countries to which I've traveled, so I don't think we've got much right to complain. (Wait till you leave and return, then you'll understand.)
Good luck in your journey!