Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:
Welcome to the 351st issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

“. . . this publication is a gold mine of information from the well traveled that could otherwise take hours to find.” That’s what E’Louise Ondash wrote in her January 20th “Hit the Road” column in North San Diego County’s The Coast News.

She continued: “. . . it does a great job as a person-to-person forum (‘Two seniors considering a trip to the North Pole. How do we get there?’) and travelers’ bulletin board (‘I attended the Chelsea Flower Show in London and found it a big disappointment’). Each 120-page issue carries well-edited features written by readers, and many first-person tips and recommendations.

“Samples: restaurants in Cambodia; great guides in St. Petersburg, Russia; best way to see the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and welcoming bed-and-breakfasts in Donegal, Ireland. An occasional column offers advice for solo travelers.

“ITN also is chock full of ads — mostly for tour companies and cruise lines — but the range is wide and if you’re looking to compare companies, ITN can be a one-stop shopping experience.”

E’Louise certainly paints an accurate picture of ITN’s usefulness! (Did you notice the part about “well-edited”?)

One of ITN’s “well traveled” subscribers, Edward D. Webster of Ojai, California, would like readers to know about his book: “A Year of Sundays — Taking the Plunge (and our Cat) to Explore Europe” (2004, VanderWyk & Burnham. ISBN 1889242217 — 415 pp., $24.95 hardback). Two ITN staffers have read the book and offer these comments.

Jane Albusche wrote, “ ‘A Year of Sundays’ is a memoir of what was planned to be a year (later changed to nine months) of European travel by what would seem to be a unique threesome — the author, his blind wife, Marguerite, and their elderly cat, Felicia — who traversed most of continental Europe (the U.K. was off-limits because of pet quarantine laws).

“Living in foreign settings provides Webster with a new backdrop against which he examines the familiar beliefs and relationships that make up his life. He and Marguerite deal with loneliness, language barriers and health issues. The result is a narrative that is as thought provoking as it is enjoyable to read.”

Mary Beltran wrote, “Mr. Webster describes how he sought out diverse experiences (like the tactile exhibits available at some museums) to share with his wife. The difficulties faced by Mrs. Webster in adjusting to new surroundings and navigating strange customs as well as strange locales brought me to different levels of understanding for the term ‘culture shock.’

“While the book is not filled with specific travel advice or details, the story of their relationship and efforts that both must make to overcome the challenges that blindness adds to traveling made for an encouraging read.”

Fodor’s Travel Publications (New York City; collected travel tips from 700 people. High on the list — “Fly early in the day. If your flight is delayed, you stand a better chance of getting on a flight that day and not having to stay overnight at the airport at a hotel.”, out of Des Moines, Iowa, offers this cruiser’s tip: “When you book your cruise, you should receive a cruise line booking I.D. for each cabin (usually a series of letters and numbers). Each time you make a payment through your agency, check with the cruise line a few days later to make sure that payment has been credited to your account. Also confirm your cabin type, ship, sail date, etc. This should alert you to any potential problems well in advance of your cruise.”

And then there are these simple steps to take prior to your trip to make the relaxation last well after you return home:

• Pay the bills.

• Straighten stacks of magazines. Get rid of newspapers.

• Mow the lawn.

• Set out an empty vase ready for flowers.

• Change the bedding; make the beds.

• Do the laundry and put it away. Pick up dry-cleaned clothes; finish any ironing.

• Have a favorite outfit ready to wear that first day back to work.

• Give yourself a good first impression: tidy your home. Don’t pressure yourself to overdo it; concentrate on things that will help you relax the moment you walk through the door: clean counters, clean floors, emptied wastebaskets, made beds. . .

• Straighten curtains, shades and shutters so rooms look cool and composed.

• Vacuum the carpets so they look special. The Hoover® Savvy™ upright has dual agitators that counter-rotate to spread carpet fibers and expose dirt to the full suction power of the cleaner, plus two air paths that contribute to cleaning ability. You get a beautifully groomed and fluffed carpet — a pretty sight to greet your vacation-happy eyes!”

In case you were wondering, that list of day-brightening advice came from The Hoover Company, a division of Maytag (North Canton, Ohio; 330/499-9200 or

Betty Podol of Reston, Virginia, told ITN, “My husband, Dick, and I recently received our seven continents award and it is proudly hanging in our ‘travel den.’ It is framed in a much larger frame than the size of the award. I went back and copied photos of us on EACH of the seven continents and the photos now surround the award with the month/year of when we first visited each continent.”

Nice touch, Betty.

And extra points to Dan Henige of Ontario, Ohio, for catching a gaff in the March issue. The London picture on page 70 accidentally was reversed. Blimey!

Dana Middleton of Santa Fe, New Mexico, wrote, “Just after my 57th birthday I was fortunate to be sent to Thailand for the travel agency I work for. After the 14-day guided tour, I went on my own to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is very exciting for me, at this point in my life, to begin traveling again. In my 20s I spent two years in Latin America, starting with Mexico and ending up in Chile.

“I strongly believe that, armed with the right information and encouragement, travelers in my age group, especially single women, could happily join a tour company and venture out alone to another destination as an add-on experience.”

Audrey Curtis of Dallas, Texas, seconds that notion, saying that she wants ITN readers to submit “articles on traveling alone. I don’t want to bunk with strangers and can afford a bit of a single supplement.”

You single travelers out there, report!

ITN Contributing Editor Wayne Wirtanen has a suggestion: rather than toss out your old issues of ITN, leave them in your doctor’s or dentist’s office.

(None of you actually throws away your issues of ITN, do you?)

Pat McLeod of La Crescenta, California, wrote in to tell us, “I LOVE the travel crossword! And thanks for enclosing the solution in the same issue.

“Incidentally, I feel really guilty being a Lifer. I signed up for ITN in ’91 and have more than gotten my monies’ worth. At that time a lifetime subscription cost $160. I figured that if I lived to be 69 I’d ‘break even.’ I’m one week shy of 73.”

Pat was thinking ahead! But even if you don’t want to take the step toward being a “lifer,” consider that one traveler’s tip in ITN that saves you a mere $19 has just covered the cost of an entire year’s subscription.

And that doesn’t count coming across just one reader’s lead that results in a smoother or more rewarding trip. Priceless!

Tell a friend.

—David Tykol, Editor