The Discerning Traveler

by Philip Wagenaar, M.D.

14 tactics to increase your flying comfort

The following essay was inspired by a letter from ITN reader Mrs. Carey Casey in Cathedral City, California.

“Who are those two strange-looking people?” our fellow travelers must have wondered.

Our faces covered by oxygen masks with their extended hoses dangling toward the supply tanks, we must have looked like creatures from outer space as we flew from Auckland to Seattle on Air New Zealand....


I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was the company indeed offering unclaimed luggage for sale? Its website brazenly proclaimed, “Why not stop in at Unclaimed Baggage Center (509 West Willow St., Scottsboro, AL 35768; phone 256-259-1525,, where you’ll find thousands of lost treasures from around the world. From winter clothes and shoes for the family to electronics, jewelry and luggage, you never know what you’ll discover!”

“Among the strangest finds have been a case...


Nostalgically, my hands hold the genuine leather of the old travel wallet, which, for years, has held my essential travel documents. It still looks as good as it did 51 years ago, when my aunt surprised me with it as a going-away present.

I reminisce about the olden days, when friends showered you with gifts each time you left on a journey, the era when airlines cherished their passengers and when the term “cattle” applied only to animals and not travelers, the time when one didn’t...


by Philip Wagenaar.

With difficulty, I entered the jetway, my bags trailing behind me. Gingerly, I stepped over the plane’s threshold. Rows and rows of seats, crammed together like sardines in a can, stared at me.

“This can’t be true,” I thought. “Will I really have to be compressed into a chair that is too small, even for my 128-pound frame?”

The seats solemnly nodded back: “Unfortunately, you have no choice. You have to sit here. Despite the fare that you paid, the...


by Philip Wagenaar, M.D.

It was Friday, August 25th, 2006. Our Holland America cruise ship, the MS Amsterdam, had docked an hour before in Tórshavn, the capital of the 18-island Faroe archipelago, under a deep fog cover.

Our tour

Dressed warmly against the cold, my wife, Flory, and I snuggled down in our toasty tour bus as we traveled north on the stunning, winding ridge road toward Nordradalur (North Valley), situated on the southern part of Streymoy, the main island...


(Second of two parts, click here for part 1)

Sitting in a small café in May 2006, my bica (espresso) in front of me, I put the finishing touch on the second installment of my Portugal travelogue. The results appear below.

The Alto Douro wine region

Beautiful vistas of the Douro River, of small picturesque villages, of quintas (wine-producing farm complexes, frequently offering accommodation), of chapels, of winding roads and of terraced vineyards greeted us on our...


(First of two parts, click here for part 2)

The scrawny dog was sunning itself on the warm pavement in the center of the narrow highway. Despite my approaching car, the creature refused to budge.

Within moments, four more animals had spread out on the road deck, the sides of their heads touching the comfortable asphalt.

I honked. No luck. The dogs remained where they were.

I stopped my vehicle.

After one long minute, the dog in front of my wheels lifted up...


(Second of two parts, click here for part one)

In last month’s issue, I discussed two categories of subscriber telephone numbers (SN).

The first one uses a National Prefix (Nat. Pref.) for domestic calls and has the configuration z-bbb-xxx xxxx, where the “z” is the Nat. Pref. (the long-distance prefix, which is a “1” in the U.S.), the “bbb” is the area/city code (AC) and the subsequent digits comprise the local number (LN).

The second category uses no National Prefix....