Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 28th anniversary issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine!

ITN subscriber Toby Carlson of State College, PA, hit a snag in his plans to join his daughter for a Sierra Club hike in the Italian Alps.

“All was going well,” he said, “until I reached the airline’s check-in gate at Gatwick Airport near London in preparation for my flight to Milan. The clerk scrutinized my passport, gave me a hard-eyed look and handed it back saying that the photo page was ripped. I would not be allowed on the flight.

“True enough, my passport looked like it had been washed in a laundromat. I have always carried it in my pocket rather than leaving it in the hotel room, and I have done so on a number of European bike trips. Sweat and rain had degraded it somewhat, but I always regarded it as a valid document.

“I tried to protest, but she stuck her finger in the little opening between the picture and the backing and pried it apart widely so that I could indeed see the tear very easily, thank you. I asked to see her supervisor, but he told me essentially the same thing as his assistant.”

The airline suggested Toby reserve a flight for the next day and take a cab into London to the American Embassy to straighten things out, but it was Friday, July 4th, and the embassy would be closed until Monday.

He ended up being saved by a cab driver named Tony Field who, as they raced into London, called his wife on his cell phone. She sat down at the computer to arrange alternate transportation for Toby, and by the time they passed the U.S. Embassy and affirmed it was closed she had booked Toby a spot on the EuroStar train from Waterloo to Paris followed by an overnight train to Milan.

It cost him hundreds of dollars in cab and train rides and he arrived 15 hours later than scheduled, but he was able to join his daughter and “had a great time hiking the Dolomites.”

Toby added, “Although I experienced a shot of anxiety thereafter when anyone looked at my passport, no one else, including the Italians — as well as gate security on the same airline’s return flight to London — raised an eyebrow over my passport.”

He has since obtained a new document.

Contributing Editor Wayne Wirtanen was startled to discover that if anyone wants to read a collection of his articles on travel insurance and on soft adventure that were printed in ITN, they can be found on the Web simply by running a search on Google for “Wayne Wirtanen.”

You might punch in your own name and see what comes up.

Grace Harison of Augusta, Georgia, wrote, “I am planning to go to Rwanda to trek gorillas this fall. Also, I will visit Uganda and the Congo to see the chimps, then it’s on to safari in Tanzania, including a visit to Zanzibar. From there I’ll go on up to Ethiopia to see the stone churches. ITN’s very fine January ’04 issue was most helpful to me, particularly the informative and concise article on Uganda and Ethiopia (page 84). This has helped me to formulate my travel plans.”

Jane Richards of Surprise, Arizona, took a 5-week trip to Germany, Switzerland and Austria last summer with her husband, Flip, and wrote to tell us, “Before leaving, to find places of interest in the countries we would visit I went through all of our past issues — the best source of information for any traveler!

“We are planning a trip to Italy in March and are gathering relevant material from ITN. Thanks for the best travel magazine published.”

Jeanne K. Andre of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, had this to tell us: “A little over a year ago we dropped our subscription to ITN. My AAdvantage miles allowed me a number of free subscriptions to other magazines. We made an alarming discovery. Magazines no longer number all of their pages. Pages of advertising go unnumbered all over the magazines, causing us many problems trying to follow the gist of an article. Even the venerable National Geographic now does this, for heaven’s sake. You can’t imagine the irritation this causes.

“We decided to drop all those subscriptions, and I sent a check to ITN. Our issue arrived a day or two ago and it was like ‘Welcome home’! The pages are all numbered and the articles are illuminating as they always have been. We still give other travelers advice distilled from your pages. Thank you, everyone.”

Reason to subscribe to ITN No. 146: we number our pages!

Seriously, though, ITN is reader friendly. In fact, over the years we’ve increased the size of the type several times to make the copy easier on the eyes.

What else are we doing? In this issue you’ll find our semiannual reference index of articles, letters and news briefs printed in the last half of 2003. (It’s interesting to just scan the subjects listed under the Miscellaneous heading; even I forgot about some of those items.) Well, in response to reader request, we’re making it easier to find specific subject matter in the index.

While the listing in the magazine is accompanied by informative and timely travel ads, we knew we wanted to make available a text-only version of the index, so we’re offering a printout of the entire 2003 index at a small charge. Then it occurred to us we could send out via e-mail a pdf file of the index. With that, anyone could run a word search of the entire document, cutting research time considerably.

But we didn’t stop there. Once we came up with the pdf file, we realized it might be possible to post that on our website — allowing readers to access the index and run the efficient searches FOR FREE. (Until now, searches on the posted index could only be run page by page.) Hopefully, by the time you read this, everything will be in place. If not, our other options (at minor charges) will be available.

Truly, it’s amazing how much useful travel information can be printed in 12 issues of ITN. It’s gratifying to not only be able to help you with your travel planning but to make it even easier to do. Enjoy!

— D.T.