If you’re among my non-American or expat friends, you probably don’t need to worry about this. But a lot of Americans do NOT have a passport! It takes a while (up to a few months) to receive one. If you don’t have a passport, you might never muster courage to book an overseas trip.
Passports are pretty robust. I never got a cover for my first one; just moved on to the second one when the original expired after 10 years. No worries, you get to keep the old one, all those stamps are a nice memory of where you’ve been:
How to apply for a passport
The US Government passport website is so simple, I’m not even going to explain it. Just go there, find the nearest place to apply (probably a Post Office), and bring the things they list on the website.
Hmm, passport photos: most photography studios do them; that’s probably the most difficult part, aside from locating your birth certificate… haha.