Departure Lounge

By Armond Noble, Publisher
This item appears on page 88 of the April 2009 issue.

Bless You! Bless You! Bless You! How wonderful you are!

In late December, ITN mailed out a survey to 1,000 subscribers selected at random. It was a many-questioned survey asking about your travels in the year 2008, and the results will be presented to potential advertisers. We received 869 replies!

Almost 87%! In survey circles, that is considered better than outstanding.

To put that in perspective, another magazine (not in the travel field) that brags about how intellectual their readers are had to send out their survey twice to get just 58%.

So I say, “Thanks.” As Duke Ellington used to say to his audience, “Love you madly.”

Many travelers don’t go on tours because they believe that such are too regimented.

Like being back in the army. “Eyes right. Eyes left.”

“Two miles down that road is Mad Ludwig’s castle.”

It’s not true in every case anymore, but that is some people’s belief.

At last month’s meeting of the No Reservations Travel Club in Sacramento, I happened to sit next to a delightful lady who doesn’t attend many meetings because she is constantly traveling. She said, “I go on lots of tours, but I don’t go on the tours.”

What she meant was that she books with the tour companies but after reaching each destination she goes off on her own and sees what she wants to.

With companies that allow it, the virtue of that is the massive savings in travel costs.

If you get out your calculator and factor in hotel charges, transportation and meals, then compare what a tour costs per diem, the tour is light-years ahead in your favor.

When you just show up at a hotel or even book ahead, it’s like they saw you coming. Feast time!

The tour operator, instead, has negotiated for rooms and paid ahead, way in advance, getting advantageous pricing, which is passed along to you.

Same with group meals.

They also include transfers between the airport and your hotel. And then there’s intercity transport, luggage schlepping and so on.

Day for day, a tour is way easier on your wallet or purse. Compare!

By the way, if you are in Bologna, you might want to venture into the Marconi Museum. Everyone listens to the radio. See where it all began.

Will you be in the vicinity of Modena, Italy? Instead of seeing another balsamic vinegar factory, you might go off 12 miles to Maranello and take in the Ferrari Museum. Oh, the names Juan Fangio and Stirling Moss came back to me and I could almost hear the engines roaring.

In London, at Hendon, is the RAF Museum. Spitfires, Hurricanes and more. That one is my very favorite.

Okay, Maybe my examples are all “guy things,” but the ladies will get the idea.

From the survey, shortly we’ll be printing the list of countries that ITN subscribers visited in 2008, ranked in order. It may inspire a new place for you to venture to.

Also, you’ll notice in this issue an addition to our highly popular travelers’ certificates. This one, for visiting 49 nations or more, is the Quarto Mondo Award.