Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 381st issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

This September, the Arctic’s Northwest Passage — between the Pacific and the Atlantic — was “fully navigable,” with sea ice melting to its lowest level since satellite measurements began 30 years ago, according to the European Space Agency.

Many shippers would find the route cheaper than taking the Panama Canal, and it certainly would be a quicker route between Europe and Asia. The Northeast Passage through the Russian Arctic remained partially blocked.

Most authorities say that global warming is happening about twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere. The amount of Arctic sea ice generally is greatest in March and lowest in September.

Meanwhile, a $5 billion expansion project has begun at the Panama Canal. Expected to be completed by 2014, in time for the centenary of its opening, it will add a new lane of traffic, doubling the canal’s capacity and allowing longer and wider ships to pass through the new set of locks.

The 51-mile canal handles 5% of world trade, saving ships from taking the long route around South America’s Cape Horn.

ITN normally does not cover travel news in the Caribbean, but I’m making an exception.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in August fined and collected from the online company $182,750 for booking trips between the U.S. and Cuba, violating a 45-year-old embargo.

Almost 1,500 times between January 1998 and April 2004, Travelocity “provided travel-related services in which Cuba or Cuban nationals had an interest by arranging air travel and hotel reservations to, from, with or within Cuba without an OFAC license,” the agency said.

A Travelocity spokesman said, “The trips to Cuba were unintentionally permitted to be booked by consumers online because of some technical failures several years ago, and it’s just now finally being settled with OFAC.”

Did you just get back from someplace great and you’d love to tell someone about it who would really appreciate what you have to say, could relate to your travel enthusiasm and might even get up and take a trip there too — but you’re afraid you just don’t know grammar well enough to put it all down on paper?

Well, set aside your uncertainties; you’ve come to the right place. This magazine is written by travelers for travelers, and the important thing is not impressing people but telling about your discoveries. Don’t worry about splitting infinitives or dangling participles; that’s what editors are for. Just put the words on paper as if you were talking to your next-door neighbor.

Pick out a special place or an adventure and describe that only. We aren’t looking for an hour-by-hour diary from day one to day 14 (and neither is your neighbor). Just tell where you went and what you found that was interesting or unexpected or special to you. Include the dates of your trip plus what things cost (tour, guide, hotel, cab, ferry, dinner, etc.) plus contact sources for any travel firms mentioned so others can get the information they need and duplicate the trip. If your travel agent made all the arrangements, give us the contact info for the agency.

Include photos if you have them (if you’re sending in a feature article, they’re required). You can send prints or slides, but if your pictures are digital, remember to shoot them at the highest quality possible for your camera and send us the large jpeg files; send those by e-mail or on a CD. For every picture, include a caption.

I’m always surprised how two people can take the same trip and their articles about it are almost completely different, hardly overlapping in content, so don’t hold back sharing, and do it soon after you return; a trip taken a year ago may be outdated by the time it would get into print. Note: ITN does not cover destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, just everyplace else.

Need more inspiration? Listen to a couple of your fellow subscribers.

“ITN is my favorite magazine. So many great suggestions for traveling! — Lorna Tjaden, New Hope, MN

“We love ITN. It’s very important for our travel planning” — Robert Klosterman, Salem, OR

“I have subscribed to ITN for years and it is the only magazine where I save back issues.” — Carol H. Probst, Bethel Park, PA

Send feature articles (1,000 to 1,500 words or so plus pictures) to Beth Habian, Features Editor, Box 1148, Florence, OR 97439, or e-mail Send shorter accounts and letters to the editor to ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail

Lastly, the longtime subscribers among you will remember ITN Contributing Editor Carter Clements, who wrote the “Hidden Travel Bargains” column from May 1981 until October 1999. Sadly, we have been informed that he died in August. He had suffered a debilitating stroke in 1999, and further developments took their toll.

His wife, Bev, kindly shared, “Carter had a special affection for ITN and the people he knew there,” and we felt the same about Carter. He helped ITN along in the early years, and he was a true professional.