Travelers' Intercom

On our day tour in mainland China, children in an elementary school performed for us. Photos by Stephen Addison

The current COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent, and by far the worst, of a series of coronavirus outbreaks over recent decades. For multiple reasons, COVID-19 poses a high risk to me, so, like many others around the world, I’m hunkered down and not traveling. I wasn’t always so concerned.

The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2002 to 2004 started in, and primarily impacted, China, especially Hong Kong. The CDC issued travel alerts for Taiwan and Toronto also. Very few Americans were infected by SARS, and even fewer (maybe none, according to some...

One of the great culinary wonders of Portugal, the cinnamondusted pastel de nata (custard tart). Photos by Nita Swartz

It had been 20 years since we last visited Portugal, and we decided it was time to make a return trip to this delightful and friendly country.

We considered several companies that offered package tours, but none had an itinerary we liked. Then we saw an ad from Portugal Trails (Cascais, Portugal; phone +351 214 851 476, saying they arranged custom tours. The company had good service reviews, so we contacted them.

After we indicated places we were interested in visiting, the company responded promptly via email and made useful suggestions. A tour was...

Boys at a roadside market — Madagascar. Photos by Michael De Rosa

Madagascar is a “must see” for world travelers and anyone interested in wildlife. My wife, Norma, and I fit both of those descriptions, and we spent two weeks there in August 2018.

I did all of the initial planning and booking of our 2-week trip. Norma and I selected an itinerary along the RN7, a main highway, that would increase our chances of seeing wildlife.

In making inquiries to accommodations, I got answers from some after a week or more, and others never replied. I found that if I used Google to translate my message into French, I could reach most places. (...

Detail of a stucco frieze in El Mirador — northern Guatemala. Photos by Günther Eichhorn

The focus of my trip to Guatemala in November 2019 was remnants of the Maya.

Organized by Maya Travel (Antigua, Guatemala;,, my 10-day private tour cost $3,155 and included a guide. All food was included during a 5-day trek to El Mirador; otherwise, breakfast was included daily but not lunch or dinner.

Maya Travel was very responsive when I wanted to modify the itinerary, and everything worked out well. I visited three Mayan sites: Yaxha, Tikal and El Mirador.

I flew into Guatemala City, where I was picked up by my...

Our “permission to board” email from the Bahamian government, after our COVID test. Photos by John Leach

Eileen and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on July 17, 2021, cruising in the BAHAMAS aboard the Crystal Serenity of Crystal Cruises (Miami, FL; Actually, we were on two back-to-back 7-day cruises, July 10-17 and July 17-24, each with the same round-trip itinerary, starting in Nassau.

Our cruises were spectacular, and not just because it had been so long since we last cruised. Everything on the cruise went well, and even after 16 months with no passengers, the ship looked as good as ever.

All passengers had to be vaccinated, and everyone had...

Paula Owens and husband, Stephen Addison, enjoying a kebab lunch outside a small café in Moulay Idriss, Morocco. Photo by guide Abdellah El Harras

You're finally going to Morocco. That's great! So what do you need to know that might not be prominent in your guidebook?

First, upon arrival at the airport, you must complete a challenging Immigration form. Remember to complete a duplicate form or take a photo of your completed form; you'll need to provide essentially the same information at each lodging check-in.

Do you know what time it is? Visit for Morocco's time zone, and check for changes to Daylight Savings Time. During our May 2018 visit, Morocco temporarily switched out of DST...


There were 16 group members on the 8-day “Majestic Slovenia” tour that I returned from on July 24, 2021, and five of us were related (four cousins and a husband). Traveling with us on the tour by AHI International Corporation (Chicago, IL; 800/323-7373, was our helpful AHI Tour Director, Ivana Gavran. Ivana is Croatian but very knowledgeable about Slovenia.

The trip was originally offered in the spring of 2019, and our reservation was scheduled for May 29-June 5, 2020. When COVID reared its ugly head, the trip was rescheduled, first to August-September...

Hot springs at Lake Mývatn, northern Iceland. Photos by Cindi McNabb

My husband, Mark, and I did a 2-week self-drive around Iceland, June 15-29, 2021, and it was WONDERFUL! We felt that two weeks was the right amount of time for this trip.

It had been 21 months since our last international trip. It was so refreshing to travel in a country that was filled with smiling, unmasked faces. We chose Iceland because it was open to vaccinated US citizens and was doing well with their vaccination program, having few cases and hospitalizations.

Planning for this trip was different because we had to pre-register with the country, get a barcode to link...