Talk to me — column topic solicitation

By Randy Keck

Often, readers’ suggestions for article topics get passed through to me to evaluate by ITN Editor David Tykol. This is logical since I have a history of writing about travel issues, especially those that involve a bit of controversy.

The idea for a formal topic solicitation from readers came to me while in the air returning from my last trip to Chile. So here goes — and to make it a bit more interesting, there will be a prize for the topic that I select to write about. In this case, it will be a copy of a book I have been saving for a previously unidentified special occasion, “Traveling the South Pacific Without Reservations,” written by a friend of mine, Evangeline Brunes.

If this invitation to readers produces results, it might make sense for topic solicitation to become an annual practice.

Topic entry guidelines

The winning entry (or entries, naturally requiring an additional prize or prizes) will have to meet certain guidelines to receive serious consideration.

1. The topic should not have been written about recently (within the last few years) in ITN. If you’re unsure, I suggest you check the biannual ITN Reference Indexes in the March and September issues, looking under the heading “Other Items of Interest.”

2. The topic should have a reasonably broad level of application to readers as opposed to something that is so special interest in focus it would be of interest only to a limited audience. I encourage assessments from submitters regarding why they believe their topic should be written about.

3. Special consideration will be given to any topics that are unique, novel or groundbreaking, as long as they meet the above criteria and do not include the subject of male enhancement, which, according to my continuous stream of unsolicited spam mail, is the only subject of interest to anyone in the entire universe.

4. Finally, I would suggest that discussion of topics and subsequent recommendations might be a valid exercise for regional ITN travel clubs when they meet. Of course, it is a great topic for any type of travel club/group meeting.

Please note that, for this contest, only entries by postcard or letter will be accepted as I am of absolute necessity fighting a raging anti-spam battle. Please indulge me this time around.

Write to Column Topic Solicitation, c/o Randy Keck, P.O. Box 190, Cape Charles, VA 23310.

Below, I offer an example of a subject matter in a mini-column format, in this case philosophical in nature, which has broad application.

Paying it Forward

The concept of “paying it forward” was advanced not long ago in a popular film of approximately the same title. It involves doing completely unsolicited good deeds, even for strangers, without consideration of “what’s in it for me.” Essentially, the idea is that if everyone acted in such an unselfish way, the consciousness of the world would be advanced immeasurably.

Many of us who can and do travel as an important part of our lifestyles often take the ability to travel for granted and enjoy our globetrotting experiences with blinders on. Do you know, however, of someone who would dearly love to have an overseas travel experience, perhaps even to a specific destination they have always dreamed about, but who does not currently and likely never will have the resources to be able to afford such a trip?

For example, today there are countless bright, healthy, travel-able and highly travel-interested seniors whose limited financial circumstances relegate them strictly to the category of “armchair traveler.”

An indisputable fact is many senior travelers in our culture today have much more money available for travel than time left to travel. Please realize that there are many would-be travelers who would consider your singular trip number 14 to “?” on your list of 32 accumulated trips, to date, to be the trip of their dreams.

Never mind making someone’s day, how about making someone’s travel experience of a lifetime with, in many instances, funds that likely will not be missed? The concept of travel assistance need not be limited to youthful students (I have written on that subject previously) when the category can be expanded to include students of life of all ages.

In the strongest possible way, I challenge all those who have the ability to “pay it forward” to do so with the gift of travel to a deserving soul. If you do not personally know someone in this category, please ask around a bit because someone you know undoubtedly does.

A great bonus is that the joy it is possible to bring by helping someone realize a travel dream that is otherwise unobtainable is right at the top of the list of best gifts to oneself. You can make a difference.

Reader comments including current, past and future experiences regarding this subject are welcome.

I hope to receive many column topic suggestions from readers.

Keck's Beyond the Garden Wall

❝In the final analysis, all that matters, all we possess, is the truth we alone know about how we have chosen to travel through the experience of this lifetime and whether we have endeavored to make a difference along the way.❞
— Randy’s thoughts about the subject of the above mini-column