Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

The Hall of Supreme Harmony in the center of the Forbidden City — Beijing.

If you are holding in your hands the first copy of ITN you’ve ever read, welcome! You have a lot to look forward to.

I’ll let Suzanne Bell express what it is. She’s a member of a travel club in Annapolis started seven years ago by ITN subscribers (write John Scheleur, 452 Century Vista Dr., Arnold, MD 21012, or e-mail, and she wrote, “What a great group! There is such a camaraderie among ITN readers and we all really do fit such a specific demographic, not just in terms of age, education, income and that sort of thing but, really, the heartfelt desire to help each other.

“That was always the number-one thing that impressed me about ITN to begin with, and I don’t have a clue how you begin to quantify that. ITN is like no other magazine I know of in the travel world.”

As Suzanne points out, ITN readers do what they can to help other travelers. That’s the basis of ITN. Travelers report interesting finds overseas, tell others which travel firms they recommend — or do not recommend (and why) — and simply share travel tips.

Become a subscriber and add your voice to this overseas-travel forum which has been publishing monthly since 1976.

ITN also reports news, such as the latest tech aids for travelers.

There’s a website put together by air traffic controllers using FAA data: It lists the top 10 airports in the U.S. where departures are delayed the most; the worst times to fly into those airports, and the month’s most-delayed flights.

At press time, the five U.S. airports where flight delays are most common are Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington/Dulles (IAD), Atlanta (ATL) and Chicago (ORD).

The website also offers tips from air traffic controllers on how best to beat travel delays.

So that flights seem to arrive on time, over the last 10 years airlines have added an average of 10% to what they say are the estimated lengths of the flights, the Wall Street Journal reported. For a cross-country flight of five hours or so, that's about a half hour of built-in delay.

Best to be realistic, I guess. Plus, when it happens, it's so nice to arrive "early."

It does explain how on some flights the pilots could make up so much extra time. It couldn't all be because the planes were traveling "with the wind."

Several airports in the U.S. now have parking lots where people picking someone up can wait for free, with their cell phone, until their arriving passenger calls and says he's at the curb of the terminal. It beats circling the airport indefinitely. Some lots have a maximum wait time of 30 or 60 minutes.

Cities with cell phone parking lots include New York (JFK), Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

Beijing's Forbidden City no longer houses a Starbucks. Management of Palace Museum, as the Forbidden City is known locally, said the American-owned coffee shop located near the Hall of Preserving Harmony posed a challenge to traditional Chinese culture.

Starbucks was told they could continue to serve their coffee in another beverage store that will take the place of the outlet, but the offer was refused and in July the logo was removed from the window.

By the way, in the franchised stores at the Palace Museum, selections of souvenirs will double over the next year.

Kudos to travel book writer, TV travel show host, tour operator and ITN Contributing Editor (except this month) Rick Steves!

Many scientists agree that excess CO2 in the atmosphere changes climates. Jets certainly release CO2 as they burn fuel. In an effort to offset the CO2 generated on the tours they will operate in 2008, the tour company Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door has donated $80,000 to American Forests ( to plant 80,000 trees in Global ReLeaf Forests projects.

On average, a tree in its lifetime will absorb one-sixth of the CO2 generated by one person flying round trip from the U.S. to Europe. So at six trees per person and 13,000 people a year taking Steves’ tours, 80,000 new trees need to be planted each year to offset the “greenhouse gas.”

The trees will be planted in areas deforested by fires, disease, storms or human causes. Visit

Baruch Spivak of Miami, Florida, wrote, “I am a budget traveler. The way I see it, the most important thing in travel is to see the sights and meet people. It’s not the comfort and luxury of the accommodation. If you stay in Hiltons, spending $100-$250 per person per night, you can stare at the walls and the beautiful chandeliers, but there are no people to talk to. I would like more people to write in about hostels, which cost $10-$20 per night and where there are opportunities to meet people from around the world.”

Judy Pfaffenberger of Toledo, Ohio, added, “If I want to go often, I have to go cheap.” She said she appreciates that prices are included in most articles and letters in ITN.

Donald W. Brown of Courtland, California, wrote, “I am a ‘disciple’ of Rick Steves, and with his excellent publications and online suggestions I have had some marvelous trips at moderate cost.

“I do not see ‘budget travelers’ and ‘affluent travelers’ as opposites. My travel partner and I would probably be considered affluent by most standards, so we generally do not have to ask ‘Can we pay this?’ But we do ask ‘Why pay that?’ if it is possible to get what we want at a lower price.

“We see no sense in wasting money, thus when we travel we do not pay others, in the form of cruises or guides, to do for us what with the use of computers and guidebooks we can do for ourselves. Frugality, then, is one of the cornerstones of our traveling.”

Budget travelers, give up your secrets and write in after your next trip. Where are the bargains and the you-couldn’t-buy-this experiences with the locals? Remember to include trip dates, contact info and, of course, prices.

A change in ITN’s Publication Guidelines — as of now, ITN will compensate writers of feature articles printed in ITN each with a one-year renewal of their subscription plus a one-year subscription to give as a gift.

ITN has disappointed many free-lancers who received free trips and were looking for a place to publish or make a buck. We informed them that ITN is written only by its subscribers for the benefit of their fellow readers. We keep it in the family. — David Tykol, Editor