Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 373rd issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine. It has been 31 years since ITN came out with its first issue in March 1976.

At that time, no other travel publication would print negative comments about any aspect of travel out of fear of offending advertisers. Armond Noble, ITN’s publisher, says that in the travel sections of newspapers you couldn’t even read about the breakout of an illness somewhere.

Seeing a need for a travel magazine that printed the complete truth, he began publishing a tabloid-size publication in which actual travelers, so-called consumer travelers, could report their candid impressions of airlines, tour companies, cruise lines, travel destinations, hotels — you name it!

Letters arrived from corporations saying ‘ITN is bad-mouthing travel,’ but our readers knew better and we stuck to our guns, letting travelers share what they learned on recent trips, whether it was a dining recommendation overseas, a warning about a travel firm’s business practice or simply a packing tip.

In September 1984 ITN switched to the newsprint magazine format you’re holding in your hands right now. To this day, the content remains largely reader-written, rounded out by travel news, topical columns and more.

ITN: the original travelers’ forum, going strong at 31!

Those new passports that we’re all being issued each have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip in them. The chips are passive and do not broadcast information, but they can be read by a remote RFID reader.

The information is encoded, of course, but while the U.S. government and other governments have assured citizens that the data is secure, various media have reported demonstrations showing that the information can be hacked rather quickly by someone in the vicinity carrying the proper equipment.

To protect the private information on passports as well as on RFID credit cards from being scanned without the owners’ knowledge, various companies are selling shields that obstruct radio frequency signals.

Among outlets carrying the shields are travel product stores (such as (Magellan’s; 800/962-4943, — passport wallet, $19.85) and specialty product manufacturers (such as Travel Security Accessories; 800/932-4465, — wallets, $25-$59).

Many of the 12,000 “dirty bomb” radiation detectors at security checkpoints in the U.S. have been getting false-positive readings from people who recently underwent radiation treatment for cancer.

Each day, as many as 60,000 Americans a day here are undergoing treatment or tests that involve being injected or implanted with radioisotopes. Depending on the medical procedure, these patients can register as “hot” for from one day to three months, thus the travelers among them are being flagged and searched.

Doctors have been asked to warn their patients that this might happen, and some even provide their patients notes or cards confirming the treatment.

Two more countries joined the European Union in 2007: Bulgaria and Romania. While neither uses the euro yet, it now is possible to spend euros in Slovenia, the first post-communist country to officially change over to that currency.

Another new addition (?) to Europe — using the latest measuring methods, it has been discovered that Liechtenstein’s borders are 1.2 miles (1.9 km) longer than was previously thought, making it 123 acres bigger than previously thought (about 62 square miles). No wonder its new pants never fit!

A request from the ITN editors — please do not send in the same letter or article more than once or to more than one of the addresses you find in ITN. If you are resubmitting a piece because you fear it may not have been received, please note somewhere in the letter that you are submitting it a second time. Otherwise, it can cause problems.

Feature articles, which are the lengthy, more “formal” pieces with photographs that appear in the front half of the magazine, should be sent to our Features Editor, Beth Habian, at Box 1148, Florence, OR 97439, or e-mailed to beth@

Any questions regarding your subscription itself go to ITN Subscriptions, 2628 El Camino Ave., Ste. A6, Sacramento, CA 95821-5925; phone 800/486-4968 (re subscriptions only).

Pretty much everything else — letters to print, suggestions for the magazine, ITN Report Cards, boxes of candy, etc. — should be sent to the main offices of ITN here at 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mailed to

For a copy of our Writer Guidelines with full details on submitting articles and pictures, contact us at our 28th Street address or check our website, (follow the link at the bottom of the homepage). Thanks.

In each March and September issue we print an index of nearly every article, letter and news item published in ITN in the previous half year. A searchable version will also be available on our website.

Most of it is arranged alphabetically by country as well as by travel firm, as a travel-planning reference, but the sections at the end — Miscellaneous, in particular — can make for some interesting skimming.

Enjoy!— D.T.