Leon Hochman's travel room, with a world map, his <b><i>ITN</i></b> Travel Awards and souvenirs of his travels.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 549th issue of your monthly worldwide travel magazine, the original travelers’ forum.

I’ve been meaning to share with you the achievement of one of your fellow ITN subscribers, (Samuel) Leon Hochman of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He proudly informed us he had earned his ITN “Been There, Done That! All Sovereign Nations Award,” then sent us a photo of all of his ITN Travel Awards on...

Banana Blossom Salad ready to serve.

There are not many positive aspects of the COVID pandemic. However, being stuck in the house for extended periods has given me time to go through my travel notes and triage what I don’t need. This also gave me the opportunity to rediscover and remember the many wonderful times I had traveling.

For example, I ran across a cookbook I received in February 2009 when my late husband, John, and I took a lesson in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at a cooking school that, unfortunately, is...


Below are some of the questions and issues we should individually consider when thinking of undertaking international group travel while COVID is still in our midst. Bear in mind that this column was written in late October 2021, and COVID realities can change quickly.

Personal health awareness

Are you are fully vaccinated? If so, does this include a booster shot?

Have you had a physical recently? How strong is your immune system? How is your stamina quotient? Do you...

To explore both the country and the barn, think of the cheese course as a tour of France. Photo by Rick Steves

Because I come from a backpacker travel heritage, where a good picnic is the answer to a prayer, it’s taken me decades to recognize the value of a fine meal. Now I can enthusiastically embrace a long, drawn-out dinner splurge as a wonderful investment of both time and money. Nowhere is this truer than in France.

My friend and coauthor Steve Smith and I head to a fine restaurant in Amboise, in the midst of France’s château-rich Loire...

As a boy (right), I met an eyewitness (left) to the start of World War I. Photo by Rick Steves.

Here are some thoughts about how and why one of the most rewarding aspects of my travels is connecting with people — old friends and guides who actually lived through the local history and make it real for me.

On one of my earliest trips to Europe when I was just 14 years old, a family friend in a dusty village on the border of Austria and Hungary introduced me to a sage old man. I remember thinking he was a caricature of a classic old Austrian, with a handlebar moustache, a...

Romantic lakeside dining in Varenna. Photo by Cameron Hewitt.

Stretched over two chairs atop the skinny passenger deck of a 10-car ferry as it shuttles across Lago di Como, I look south into the haze of Italy. I’m savoring the best of my favorite country with none of the chaos and intensity that are generally part of the Italian experience. Looking north, into a crisp alpine breeze, I see snowcapped Alps.

I’m just minutes from Switzerland ... but it’s clear I’m in Italy. The ferry workers are Italian, with that annoying...

“Forgive, but never forget.” Photo by Rick Steves.

En route to Dachau’s infamous concentration camp, I sit next to an old German woman on the city bus. I smile at her weakly as if to say, “I don’t hold your people’s genocidal atrocities against you.”

She glances at me and sneers down at my camera. Suddenly, surprising me with her crusty but fluent English, she rips into me. “You tourists come here not to learn but to hate,” she seethes.

Pulling the loose skin down from a long-ago strong...

One of many red-rock formations found in the Tupiza canyon area of Bolivia.

Dear Globetrotter: 

Welcome to the 548th issue of your monthly worldwide travel magazine. You won’t find another publication like it!

The original travelers’ forum, ITN is largely reader-written, and subscribers are free to give their candid appraisals of tours, cruises, destinations, etc. With the exception of one page, introduced during the current pandemic-induced travel shutdown, ITN only covers destinations outside of the US.

While our subscribers...