ITN Online Message Board. Americans to need authorization to enter EU countries.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the May 2019 issue.
Completed in 1874, this neoGothic church was declared the Cathedral of Saint Florin in 1997 — Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 519th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

Last month, I described how, unlike members of the general public, ITN subscribers have special benefits on our website.

For one thing, if you’re a subscriber, you can have full and unlimited access to all posted articles, letters and news items from the magazine — great when planning a trip and looking for recommendations of guides, tour companies, hotels, etc. In the search bar, just type in a company or destination name and see what reviews and reports come up.

Access to the archives is possible after you set up an ITN Online account. That’s a one-time procedure. On our homepage, click on the box that says “If you are a Print-edition Subscriber and want to set up your ITN Online account, CLICK HERE to get started.” Then fill in the form with your name, address, etc. Easy peasy!

You’ll also be asked to choose a “username.” You can use that (or your email address) to log in to the website. The username is also what you’ll be known by on the Message Board (which is where you can find examples of other people’s usernames, if you’re wondering what sort of moniker to adopt).

Last year, Sonia Just of Birmingham, Michigan, wrote, “I have been active on the Message Board on ITN’s website since it started, finding it to be very helpful, but is there anything we, the readers, or the editorial staff can do to raise the awareness of this useful site? I would like to see it even more vibrant and helpful.”

Writing in and bringing up the subject was a good first step, Sonia, reminding me to give everyone an update.

ITN’s Webmaster, Demian LeClair, gave the Message Board’s layout a makeover several months back, simplifying the structure and making it all easier to navigate, “with all the buttons and text blocks where they should be,” as he put it.

He also added Posting Guidelines, which visitors to the board may find helpful. They read as follows: “The Message Board is intended to be a question-and-answer forum for travelers. With any response about a particular travel firm, please include the year the trip was taken.

“Note: While you are free to include your email address or phone number in a posting, it is recommended that you do not. Since this is a public forum, you might be exposing yourself to spam. Members who wish to send you a private message need to log in to enable private messaging capabilities.

“Posts are not edited, and they reflect the opinions of the contributors, not of ITN.

“The Message Board is moderated, and moderators reserve the right to remove posts deemed libelous, offensive, etc. Self-advertising by travel firms is not allowed.

ITN subscribers wishing to share unsolicited trip reports are encouraged to write directly to the magazine at”

Again, the Message Board is meant to be a place where ITN subscribers can ask travel-related questions and get quick replies from other subscribers. It’s the I-need-an-answer-right-away equivalent of the “Person to Person” section in the back of each issue of the printed magazine.

As mentioned in the guidelines, in addition to posting an info request or a response to someone else’s info request, any subscriber can send a private message to someone who has posted on the Message Board.

Just click the “Messages” link near the top-left corner of the screen. (That link shows up once you’ve logged in on the website.) Then click the “WRITE NEW MESSAGE” button and type in the username of the person you wish to send a message to. That person will receive a notification by email that he or she has received a private message.

Marcia Brandes of Atlanta, Georgia, also wrote in about ITN’s Message Board, saying, “A suggestion for a future feature — a search box on the Message Board so that it would be possible to see if someone has asked a similar question.”

Per your suggestion, Marcia, a search box for the Message Board was added beneath the Posting Guidelines (separate from our website’s search bar, found at the top-right corner of every webpage).

For the record, while anyone can read the conversations on the board, only ITN subscribers are allowed to participate in the discussions. There are many benefits to being an ITN subscriber!

Thanks for the emails, Sonia and Marcia.

In March, it was incorrectly reported in several news outlets that, starting in 2021, US travelers will each need a visa to visit European Union countries. This is not exactly true, but, for some of you, there’s an even bigger bombshell.

Starting in 2021, US travelers will need prior authorization to enter EU countries as well as non-EU countries that are in the Schengen Zone (i.e., Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). Americans will apply for this authorization through the European Travel Information & Authorization System (ETIAS).

This is very similar to what the United States makes visitors from certain other countries go through who are not required to have visas in order to visit the US. The application to visit the US is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), and it collects biographic information.

Like ESTA, ETIAS will determine, before someone travels to a participating country, whether that person meets the entry requirements, that is, whether the applicant poses any immigration, health or security risks.

(For example, any person applying to travel to the US on an ESTA waiver who has visited or lived in Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Iran or Yemen anytime after March 2011 will not be given authorization to travel to the US visa-free and must apply for an entry visa. It’s not known whether ETIAS will follow those same guidelines.)

As with ESTA, there is a small application fee with ETIAS, which at press time was expected to be about 7 (near $8), payable by debit or credit card.

The bombshell — details of the process have not been finalized, but, for now, the application process will only be done online, and an email address will be required.

It’s not known how long it will take for applications to be processed (ESTA can take up to 72 hours), but, once approved, permission to travel under ETIAS will be valid for up to three years.

• Similarly, starting Oct. 1, 2019, anyone from a country whose citizens New Zealand does not require to have visas, either to visit or transit, must have an Electronic Travel Authority. Beginning July 1, an ETA application made via web browser will cost NZD12 (near $8), and one made on a smartphone or tablet, NZD9. An international visitor levy of NZD35 will be charged with each application. An approved ETA will be valid for two years.


• Among the readers’ letters under the title “Managing Things at Home During an Extended Trip” (Feb. ’19, pg. 32), Kathy Wilhelm mentioned that the UPS Store will hold mail. I attached an Editor’s note stating that someone wanting to have mail held at a UPS Store must first rent a mailbox at the store. I added, “To then have mail held is an additional cost. ITN was told by a clerk at a UPS Store in Sacramento, California, that… they would hold mail for as long as the mail hold was paid for.”

After reading that, W. Wayne Lindsey of Las Vegas, Nevada, wrote, “I have been a UPS store customer for almost 20 years in both Dallas and Las Vegas, and, for box holders, there has never been a charge to HOLD the mail for any length of time (although, at the stores I’ve used, if you decided that you would like to have your held mail SENT to you, there has been a charge for packing and shipping it, and they could even sort the mail for you according to your specifications, e.g., send you only the first-class mail if that’s all you needed).”

ITN called a local UPS Store again for clarification and was told that the “mail hold” cost that had been quoted was actually the monthly cost to RENT a mailbox.

I will reiterate, though, that every UPS Store is independently owned and operated, so you will need to inquire about any services and costs.


• The Travel Brief “Da Vinci in Milan” (April ’19, pg. 4) described an exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci at Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy. Note that during the exhibit, May 16-Aug. 18, 2019, entry to the castle museums costs 10, not 5 as reported.


Last month, I wrote (page 51) that Hanoi is about 100 miles east of Halong City and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. I stand corrected by Russell Gluck of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, who noted that Hanoi is to the west, inland.


In the last couple of issues, I asked subscribers to come up with suggestions for new topics for ITN’s ongoing ESSAY CONTEST, as we had reached the end of the original list of titles compiled by the magazine’s founder, the late Armond Noble. Well, we were deluged with suggestions, and I’ll announce the title of the next essay and the person who submitted it now.

The subject of the next essay in our contest comes from BOBBI BENSON of Burlingame, California, and it is… “Georgia on My Mind.”

If you are an ITN subscriber and have been to the country of Georgia, pen an essay in no more than 300 words. Paint verbal pictures of things you saw. Give examples of how it felt to be there, of the local culture. Share any insights you gained or meaningful encounters you had that may leave us uplifted.

Email your essay to or send it to Essay Contest, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include the address at which you receive ITN. The deadline is August 31, 2019. A prize will be given for the winning essay, which will appear in ITN.

Lastly, you may remember having read letters from Marilyn Hill of Portland, Oregon, who wrote about train travel and her favorite hotels in, predominantly, Italy.

In March, Marilyn’s daughter Linda sent me the following email, which touched me and which, upon my inquiring, she wished to have me share with you, honoring her mother:

“I’m very sorry to relay the news to you that my mother, Marilyn, passed away unexpectedly at home on March 14. She would have been 84 next month.

“I think having the opportunity to have her articles published in your magazine gave her an extra sense of purpose. And though she traveled alone in her later years, she savored her encounters with locals and was happy to share her experiences with fellow travelers.

“She cut travel articles out of magazines and newspapers and saved almost every issue of ITN, no matter how often I chided her that she could find everything online now. But she liked having it all at her fingertips, to make copies for friends and family when they mentioned they were going on a trip to fill-in-the-blank.

“She would be right there alongside them in the planning process, traveling vicariously through other people to places she dreamed of going or loved having visited, herself.

“It meant a great deal to Mom to be a part of the ITN community, and she often shared your emails with me. Thank you for always being so kind and generous of your time with her.” — Linda Hill

It was no chore writing to Marilyn when editing her letters, Linda. It was a pleasure.