Travelers' Intercom

As inveterate travelers, my wife, Fyllis, and I always seek ways to explore hidden gems and lesser-known attractions of destinations around the world and to cross paths with people with whom we otherwise wouldn’t come into contact.

For us, the best way to do so is by traveling with a tour company. In addition to the basic benefits — including letting someone else plan every detail of a trip, sharing the expertise of experienced guides, meeting like-minded travelers and...

Birgu (Città Vittoriosa) and its harbor as seen from Fort St. Angelo — Malta. Photos by Mark Segal

During my one-week visit to the archipelago of Malta in February 2020, I realized that because there is so much to see and do there, it’s important for independent travelers to plan ahead and be efficient with their time. Despite its small size, this country has much to offer.

As a result of its strategic location, Malta has been controlled by or fought over by most Mediterranean powers during the past 3,000 years, among them the Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, Castilians and...

The <i>Laos Pandaw</i> on the upper Mekong.

I was one of three grandchildren who, in March 2018, along with our spouses, retraced a trip that was taken up the Mekong River by our grandmother, Phoebe Ellison, in 1909.

We elected to go by period riverboats that were owned and run by Pandaw (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; phone +84 985 417 758, The boats had been rebuilt or were reproductions of those of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the largest riverboat company in the world in the mid-19th century.

For her...

Fasciated antshrike, seen on the Pipeline Road. Photo by Sue Knabe

Birding away from Wisconsin in winter is a welcome relief. Don’t get me wrong, I like Wisconsin’s weather in all seasons, but my family (including my husband, Jerry, and adult daughter, Sue) has a 21-year tradition of going birding in different locations in February or March, for a respite from our coldest winter months. For our February 2020 destination, Sue picked Panama.

We typically visit two locations in a country: one in a higher elevation and one lower or along a...

Indian “hotel boys” showed off their climbing skills while wearing my necklace gifts. Photo by Donna Judd

Waves of 110-degree heat rolled off the barren, dusty alley I’d taken as a shortcut. A teacher on sabbatical in Egypt in 1990, I was heading toward a mosque whose white minaret rose above all the other buildings. I was alone, and the alley was eerily empty — no cars, no people, not even a chicken.

Suddenly, three women totally covered in black appeared from a side street and turned toward me, framed by the white mosque behind them. Wow! My photographer’s heart...

“Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio” — Paso Robles, California. Photo by Helen Melman

ITN is temporarily accepting brief write-ups about the US. Information on independent travel. cultural and traditional sites and sources of handmade crafts plus little-known natural wonders are welcome. Avoid touting commercial theme parks, casinos or highly publicized touristy sites.

Email or write to Travelers’ Intercom USA, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.


Consider a day trip to Exeter, a...


To escape the winters in Michigan, my travel companion and I, now in our mid 70s, have been going to Europe and Southeast Asia each year for five to six months at a time. However, since none of the countries that we normally visit have been accepting US passports during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Nov. 3, 2020, we returned to Mexico, one of the few countries that will let us in and one that is familiar to us.

It was our ninth visit to the city of Oaxaca, in the state of Oaxaca.


The town of Cilaos in the Cirque de Cilaos caldera — Réunion. Photos by Ann Cabot

On our way to visit remote Madagascar in May 2019, my adventurous adult son, Eirik, and I decided to visit an even more remote place, a dot on the map named Réunion.

Located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, this 28-mile-wide, 39-mile-long volcanic island is similar to Maui, Hawaii.

It was created at a hot spot in the Earth’s crust and, coincidentally, is at the same latitude in the Southern Hemisphere as Maui is in the Northern Hemisphere. Unlike Maui...