The results of our poll “Should ITN also cover the US?”

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the November 2020 issue.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 536th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

With a pandemic having halted most international travel, and with Americans banned from visiting many countries, three months ago I shared with you a subscriber’s reasoning that ITN, for the first time since its inception in 1976, might consider covering domestic travel along with foreign. So, addressing each subscriber to this magazine, I put the question to you: “Should ITN cover US travel too?

Wow, did the emails and letters pour in! Hundreds of them. I saw names of people whose letters and articles we last printed decades ago, plus current contributors and others writing in for the first time. Going through the mail felt like attending a high school reunion!

Though opinions differed, if there is one thing that came through consistently, it’s that everyone really cares about this magazine. For those of us who put it together each month, that means a lot.

From the emails and letters we received in response to the question, here are a few excerpts.

• “First, thanks for asking. I cannot imagine any other magazine asking its readers for this kind of input. It just reinforces my opinion of what a great publication ITN is and why I’ve subscribed for around 40 years now.

“So my ‘2 cents’ is this. While I love to travel, my enjoyment of ITN is reading about unique and faraway places from the perspective of average travelers. I really don’t need another source of info about the continental US.” — Chris Dunlap, Elizabethtown, PA

• “I lament daily not being able to travel internationally, but, having lived three-quarters of a century, I am not ready to risk a sudden end to this beautiful life from a deadly virus. So where else can I turn but to carefully thought out and planned domestic trips? I would welcome information on ‘safe’ places in the US to visit.” — Charlotte Farlow, Morristown, NJ

• “I subscribe to and read ITN BECAUSE it is written by travelers who are similar to me in their interest in foreign travel. I would rather read about places I cannot go to right now and continue to hear from fellow passport users.” — Jeanice Gross, San Marcos, CA

• “The short answer is ‘No.’ Despite the coronavirus travel restriction, ITN readers can still find foreign destinations that are less restrictive and relatively low on infection rates.” — Fred Kranz, Potomac, MD

• “The domestic articles should be about how we can travel safely in the time of COVID to unusual destinations, with an emphasis on travel that is possible to accomplish by car from major cities. Few people will want to hop on a connecting flight to go somewhere!” — Carolyn Bent, Laguna Beach, CA

• “We, US residents, are all familiar with how things work here, and the number of sources to get domestic travel information is endless. The ways of verifying this information is similarly very easy with a bit of research. Communication is simple by phone, text or email.

ITN gives information on foreign travel that is frequently hard to find — contacts which have been checked, used and rated, increasing confidence in using the information. The articles include recommendations, telephone numbers, websites, etc. — all information you will not find by blindly browsing the web.” — Nyck Wijbrandus, Lacey, WA

• “Given our limited travel options short-term, I am supportive of granting a temporary ‘US visa’ for domestic travel articles. I agree with ‘no Disneyland articles.’ Given your subscriber base, that probably won’t be a big problem. I would propose US articles be limited in quantity and have a unique element — adventure, cultural, unique food tour/event, etc.” — Al Kirtley, Loveland, OH

• “I read to escape the ‘adventures’ of the USA, which are very similar to daily life. International gives me a unique window into the unknown, the mysterious, to something that enriches my own world (whether I can actually visit there or not). Now, when we’re tied down to our own country, is when we need vistas into other places even more.” — Christina Heath, Altadena, CA

• “If you decide to include US travel articles, our suggestion is you limit articles to what is unique. Also, make it a special section that can be easily dropped when life returns to normal and your subscribers are back to seeing the world.” — Chuck & Sally Bingley, Richmond, VA

• “Foreign travel makes you a different person, with different expectations and assumptions, a willingness to accept other people’s ways of life and a different attitude as to how one should handle situations. Please don’t let this magazine morph into just another review of American ways of life.” — Marilyn Marx Adelman, Chicago, IL

• “I agree with Helen Noble that Disney should be avoided, but, then, I can’t recall reading much about Disneyland in Europe or Asia in ITN anyway! — Jim Stefan, Sarasota, FL

• I say ‘go ahead’ with select US destinations and happenings. I trust the ITN editorial staff to make decisions about content and not let US destinations ‘take over’!” — Lynn Boreson, Madison, WI

• “I would suggest that you do whatever is necessary to keep ITN going. If that means opening up for some USA-focused advertisers to help you stay afloat, so be it.” — Debra Driscoll, Dallas, OR

When we asked this same question decades ago, the vote was 2 to 1 against. But how did it come out this time?

Stunningly, out of hundreds of votes, there were only THREE more “Yes” votes than “Nos” — a virtual tie!

And what did the publisher decide? Helen said, “If someone submits something about US travel that is really unique, then it’s worth a mention. No long letters, just brief suggestions, and we’ll keep them to just one page per issue. This is a temporary change, not permanent.”

So, for the foreseeable future, we are now also accepting your reports and letters (no Feature Articles) on special travel finds, tips and recommendations in the US and its territories. Keep them brief!

More so, continue to tell us about your last trips outside of the US. What’s a story you tell a traveling friend over coffee? Or write on the subject of travel. We all share the love of discovery and being on the road. What have YOU gotten out of it?

The mere fact that so many of you took the time to express your opinions on this matter tells us this magazine provides something important to you. I promise, with all of you continuing to help, we’ll continue to do our best to deliver it.