Pocket knives allowed in carry-ons. Protecting data in stolen laptops.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the May 2013 issue.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 447th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. If you’re reading ITN for the first time, here’s what it’s all about: travelers keeping other travelers informed.

Some of the curiously eroded “fairy chimneys” in Zelve, Cappa­docia, Turkey. Photo: Tykol

Basically, once you’re a subscriber, you qualify to have your own travel reports printed in this magazine. Send in an appraisal of any airline, tour, car rental company, restaurant or shop that you’ve made use of recently. Or tell everyone about your latest destination discovery or a packing tip you’ve found useful. Or simply expound on travel, itself.

Keep in mind that we print in ITN no articles, letters or news about destinations in the USA.

Who will be reading your report? ITN’s audience comprises globetrotters of all types, from independent travelers to group-tour takers, from budget to luxury travelers and from the young to super seniors.

If you subscribe to the printed magazine, you can also read the latest issues posted on our website, www.intltravelnews.com. On any page, click on “Sign up” (upper left-hand corner), give yourself a “Username” and password and then log in anytime. Nonsubscribers have access only to issues printed a year or more ago plus selected articles from the most recent issues.

A lot of people visit our website to see what other travelers have written about particular tour companies or other travel-related firms or even countries and cities they’re planning to visit. One way to do this is by using the “Search” bar to access the ITN Archives.

In the upper right-hand corner on any page, just type in key words (“Adventures Abroad,” “MIR Corp,” “Bangkok,” “Colombia” or whatever), and up come articles, letters and news items that are relevant to your search. The latest-printed items are not always on top, so be sure to scroll through the list.

It’s handy for anyone planning a trip.

ITN is about all things travel, and right now we’re conducting an unofficial poll among our subscribers, with participants’ names to be entered into a drawing for prizes. All we want to know is where you went last year.

Write up a list of all of the nations you visited anytime in 2012 and address it to Where Were You in 2012?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, e-mail editor@intltravelnews.com, or fill out the form here. Include your mailing address (where you receive ITN).

Karin Weiser of Carlsbad, California, sent in a list that included, among many other countries, Namibia, Togo and Cape Verde, and she wrote, “On a Princess cruise from Cape Town to Dover in 2012, my husband and I visited the following countries… This was one of my ‘bucket list’ trips. We love ITN and read it from cover to cover.”

Edward Sylvester of Nevada City, California, wrote, “My wife and I were mostly on our own in… ,” and he listed several countries, from the Netherlands to Indonesia, adding, “We had a great travel year and once again used many of the recommendations of ITN’s readership to enhance our trips.”

Poll results and the prize winners will be announced soon, so get your list in right away (particularly if you visited Africa; we’ve been getting few mentions of countries on that continent).

In addition to printing subscribers’ travel accounts, this magazine works to keep you up to date on news in travel, too.

In the March issue I mentioned that North Korea had begun allowing visitors with certain types of mobile phones to (following certain procedures) actually use them in that country, though only for international calls.

Subsequently, surprisingly, they also began to allow visitors mobile access to the Internet. Three weeks later, however, in late March, the government told tour operators that foreign visitors could continue to make phone calls but that the service that allowed access to the Internet would no longer be provided.

Some reporters speculated that the decision was made after a number of Instagram photos and tweets went out providing real-time information about that very secretive country.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has shortened the list of items that passengers are prohibited from carrying onto passenger jets.

As of April 25, travelers are allowed to carry knives with blades that are not fixed open and do not lock in place, are 2.36 inches (6cm) or shorter in length and are less than half an inch wide — basically, pocket knives. (Knives with molded grips are NOT allowed, and neither are razor blades or box cutters.)

In the sports equipment category, the TSA now allows — as part of carry-on luggage — novelty-sized and toy bats (fewer than 24 inches long), billiard cues, hockey or lacrosse sticks, ski poles or two golf clubs.

To see pictures of the types of knives and other items allowed and not allowed, visit www.tsa.gov/pil-sharpobjects and click on the knife graphic.

TSA administrator John Pistole is quoted as saying on NPR, “With hardened cockpit doors, better identification of individual passengers (when comparing them) against terrorist watch lists, and thousands of armed pilots here in the US, and the demonstrated willingness of passengers to intervene in a determined way, it is the judgment of many security experts worldwide, which I agree with, that a small pocket knife is simply not going to result in the catastrophic failure of an aircraft.”

The TSA is sharpening its focus on people who might pose a threat rather than concentrating on objects that might.

The updated list more closely matches standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

More and more of you are toting laptops on your trips. Laptop computers, tablets and ultrabooks that carry specific Intel-based processing chips now come with a built-in, optional security service that locks down data remotely if the computer is stolen.

If the device detects suspicious behavior, it automatically sends a lock-down code over the Internet, or you can send a command code, yourself, if you think the device has been stolen.

Once locked down, the device will not boot up. Instead, when it is turned on, the screen will display a “Good Samaritan” message telling the finder how to return the device. Once you get the device back, you can reactivate it without harm to the data.

The service is called Intel Anti-Theft Technology, or Intel AT, and it is embedded in all standard devices using second- or third-generation Intel Core processors and on all ultrabook platforms using select Intel processors. There is a free app available at www.intel.com (search for “Anti-Theft Technology”) with which you can determine if your device is equipped to use the service. You also can try out the antitheft service for free.

The Intel AT service costs $30 or less for a one-year subscription and is available from outlets like Amazon.com, Newegg.com and other software or computer retailers.

From the Turks & Caicos Islands, in the West Indies, here’s an item that may tie into this month’s “The Cruising World” column.

In March, after 25 cases of gastroenteritis were reported by people on several cruise ships who had visited Grand Turk Island, the cruise lines Carnival, Princess and Silversea temporarily suspended port calls there.

The popular Grand Turk Island Cruise Center facility — which has swimming pools, private beaches (plus snorkeling), restaurants and shops — was closed and was to remain so until sanitation measures were completed. The facility is owned by Carnival Corporation.

Grand Turk government health officials were investigating the source of the outbreak.

John Smith of Lake Forest, California, noticed an error in the News Watch item “Balloon Crash In Luxor” (April ’13, pg. 17). He wrote, “The report states that the crash of the hot-air balloon occurred after a rope cut the ‘helium gas tube,’ causing a fire to erupt. This is not correct, as helium will not burn. Probably, after the equipment malfunction, the source of the propane used to supply the burner caught fire.”

John is right. Helium is inert, and, though one news source repeatedly referred to “a helium gas tube,” we should have realized that helium is not used in hot-air balloon flight.

Another source referred only to “gas canisters,” and these most likely held propane, which ignited after the pipe between the burner and the gas canister was severed. Not only was there a fire, but the ensuing explosion of the canister could be heard kilometers away.

David Emery of Reston, Virginia, wrote, “I think the article ‘Discovering Turkey on a Self-drive Tour’ by Marcia Brandes (March ’13, pg. 6) is my favorite in our several years of an ITN subscription. I’d like to see/encourage a lot more ‘self-drive’ or ‘self-guided tours’ articles that include the practical details like this article had. For our March ’09 visit to Turkey, I decided to hire a guide for our time outside of Istanbul. (My wife, Olimpia, and I stayed in Izmir and did day trips to Ephesus and Bergama.)

“The one suggestion I’d have for articles like this is to include the driving time between locations.”

Articles and letters about independent travel are popular among our readers. If that’s your type of travel, send in a report. A Feature Article with photos is always welcome, or you could write up just a single afternoon of getting from point A to point B, finding lodging, making discoveries, meeting locals… . Tell us a story.

An information request on our “Calling All Readers!” page last year from Sarah Gilson of Hanover, New Hampshire, prompted the 5-part series “Looking for Foreign Relatives or Ancestors,” a compilation of subscribers’ letters, that wrapped up in last month’s issue.

Sarah has written in to say, “I am so delighted with the contributions on this subject which I requested a while back. They’re great. THANKS!”

The current “Calling All Readers!” topic to write in on is “A Massage To Die For.” We asked subscribers to write on that subject several years ago, got a great response, and it remains to this day one of the most-read articles in our website’s Archives.

See page 17 and send in your report of a recent memorable massage outside the US. There are a great many who will appreciate it.

Something else that will be appreciated — a gift subscription to ITN! Mother’s Day is coming up, and Mom will be grateful to you each month as she finds a new issue in her mailbox. Call 800/486-4698 and a gift card will be sent out within a week, or visit our website and click on “Subscribe.” She deserves it!— DT