Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

by David Tykol, Editor

Natural henna, a reddish-brown dye, is obtained from the leaves of the henna plant, a flowering shrub that grows in Africa, Southern Asia and northern Australia.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 374th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

If you are reading this magazine for the first time, having received a sample copy, the concept behind it is very simple: ITN is written by travelers for travelers.

Readers each send in their candid appraisals of a tour they’ve taken, a terrific local guide overseas or some great restaurant they can’t wait to tell others about. And whether it’s a cruise, a hotel or whatever, you’ll read the traveler’s honest opinions about it — both the good and the bad.

In addition, we’ve got current travel news and regular columns on various travel subjects plus sundry items of interest to travelers, not to mention a greater selection of overseas-travel advertisers than you’ll find in any other travel magazine or newspaper travel section.

Don’t forget to check out our “Person to Person” department as well.

If you’re into travel (outside of North America and the Caribbean), you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a warning: laptop users, beware the “ad hoc” network offering “free WiFi.”

Say you’re at an airport with your laptop and you decide to log onto a wireless network using Windows in order to, for instance, check your e-mail. If you get a message that says “computer-to-computer network,” be wary. The “free WiFi” access point may have been set up by an unauthorized party within the terminal to intercept unsuspecting users and log all data passing through, including any usernames and passwords entered. It could even corrupt your computer and leave it open to further attacks without your knowledge.

The message alert may or may not come up, so always check at the airport information desk on whether or not free wireless is offered in the terminal and, if it is, the correct procedure to use to access the network.

For a list of airports offering free wireless, visit, in advance,

Public health officials in Australia are warning young travelers that temporary “henna” tattoos they might get in Asia, the Mideast and elsewhere, including Australia, could be toxic.

Often, the dyes used contain boot polish or another synthetic compound. In fact, street vendors commonly use paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause a permanent allergy and scarring.

Natural henna, a reddish-brown dye, is obtained from the leaves of the henna plant, a flowering shrub that grows in Africa, Southern Asia and northern Australia. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has never approved the use of henna for body art.

With more luggage than ever being checked onto flights rather than taken aboard as carry-ons, the number of bags being lost is greater than ever — about 10,000 a day in the U.S. alone.

On Feb. 28, 2007, as it does on a regular basis, the Department of Transportation raised the airlines’ minimum baggage liability limit again, this time from $2,800 to $3,000.

Depending on the fine print and the circumstances, that’s the most that an airline has to compensate you if your checked bag gets lost, delayed or damaged on a domestic flight. Individual airlines are allowed to set the amount higher, if they wish. Payments are seldom that high, of course.

Kolkata (Calcutta), India, is the last place* where you can find man-pulled rickshaws, and the operators are fighting to maintain their livelihood.

In December 2006, the Communist government of West Bengal outlawed the rickshaws as a “disgraceful practice” from British colonial days, but on Jan. 24, 2007, about 18,000 rickshaw wallahs went on strike in protest of the ruling. Most are migrants from Bihar, India’s poorest state, and they would prefer to continue their trade, averaging 20 cents a fare for a total of about 150 rupees ($3.50) a day, than to become beggars.

The men say that cycle rickshaws, which the government would rather see used, are more difficult to operate.

*In Dublin, Ireland, around Grafton Street, restaurant and bar patrons can pay a few euros and be transported by a rickshaw puller to another downtown location.

Jack Carroll of New York City, whose letter titled “Tips for a London Visit” appeared in the August ’06 issue (page 19), wrote in February, “I happened to be in London last week and went to The Hereford Arms pub of which I mentioned that the landlord, Mick, would buy a pint for anyone who mentioned ITN. Mick reports that more than a dozen people have come in for their pints, and he has complied.”

Barbara Malley, also of New York City, wrote, “Re ‘Person to Person’ inquiries, many readers only give their e-mail addresses. People like me, living in the Stone Age without a computer, feel frustrated that there’s no way to communicate with them. Please remind readers that not everyone has a computer but they can write that old-fashioned thing: a letter.”

In her note to ITN, written on a card sporting a beautiful photograph and supporting a local charity, she included an example question from an ITN reader and added, “This person is missing my, oh, so-valuable help for lack of an address.”

Readers, take note.

ITN Contributing Editor Wayne Wirtanen has done it again, wading through the confusion to make issues of travel insurance easier to understand (page 50).

In the last eight months there has been a flurry of press reports describing purchases of travel insurance that had unfortunate results. Most of these lurid, overblown articles would make a traveler unnecessarily uneasy about taking out travel insurance.

Wayne gives us a better understanding of the structure of the travel insurance industry and how it works. And where the reports of most of the other news outlets ended with the simple recommendation ‘Read the fine print,’ Wayne tells us where to get the most reliable answers to our questions on the subject and, for those who choose to buy travel insurance, how to go about finding a reputable company from which to buy it. (On whether to buy it or not, see Wayne’s article “Consider the Odds When Deciding Whether or Not to Purchase Travel Insurance,” Aug. ’06, pg. 52.)

When you’re faced with a paradox such as ‘There is such a thing as travel insurance, but there are no travel insurance companies,’ it’s good to have someone like Wayne working to sort these things out for us.

M. Anne Duyser of Naples, Florida, wrote, “I love ITN and look forward to receiving it each month. I was recently on a cruise aboard the Marco Polo and told the avid travelers I met about the best magazine in the industry. I was not surprised to hear that many of them love ITN as much as I. I am enclosing a list of names and addresses of those who were not familiar with it so that they can each be sent a copy and get hooked. ITN is a must for any world traveler!”

Judy Puckett of Cartersville, Georgia, wrote, “I am a cover-to-cover reader of ITN and use the articles to plan most of my travel. No other magazine even comes close to practical travel information.”

Judy and John Thompson of Waterford, Maine, wrote, “We recently took a wonderful tour of Slovenia and Croatia with Earthbound Expeditions (Bainbridge, WA; 888/842-9799), which we discovered from their ad in ITN. Most of our group came from the West Coast, so as ‘Mainers’ we were asked by many how we learned about this faraway tour company. ‘International Travel News’ was our answer, and many asked what that was, so we promised them all a free copy which you so generously provide.

“Our introduction to ITN was through a free copy we received over 10 years ago. We have no idea who submitted our names, but we continue to fight each month over who will get to read ITN first! We have every copy filed away in our attic and we refer to them regularly. Thank you for making our travels so gratifying.”

ITN will send a free sample copy of the next-printed issue to any of your traveling friends. The names and addresses of ITN subscribers will not be released to any other firm. ITN offers a 100%-money-back guarantee. See page 9.