Travelers' Intercom

On Nov. 21, 2020, moving to my new home, I flew from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to Nairobi, Kenya, on Lufthansa.

While I knew of Kenya’s Ministry of Transport’s directive that proof of a negative result of a PCR-based COVID-19 test, taken within 96 hours of arrival, had to be presented for entry into that country, what I wasn’t aware of was that it had to be presented at check-in at the airport before leaving Canada.

I was fortunate that my test result had arrived...


As inveterate travelers, my wife, Fyllis, and I always seek ways to explore hidden gems and lesser-known attractions of destinations around the world and to cross paths with people with whom we otherwise wouldn’t come into contact.

For us, the best way to do so is by traveling with a tour company. In addition to the basic benefits — including letting someone else plan every detail of a trip, sharing the expertise of experienced guides, meeting like-minded travelers and...

Birgu (Città Vittoriosa) and its harbor as seen from Fort St. Angelo — Malta. Photo by Mark Segal

During my one-week visit to the archipelago of Malta in February 2020, I realized that because there is so much to see and do there, it’s important for independent travelers to plan ahead and be efficient with their time. Despite its small size, this country has much to offer.

As a result of its strategic location, Malta has been controlled by or fought over by most Mediterranean powers during the past 3,000 years, among them the Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, Castilians and...

The Laos Pandaw on the upper Mekong.

I was one of three grandchildren who, in March 2018, along with our spouses, retraced a trip that was taken up the Mekong River by our grandmother, Phoebe Ellison, in 1909.

We elected to go by period riverboats that were owned and run by Pandaw (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; phone +84 985 417 758, The boats had been rebuilt or were reproductions of those of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the largest riverboat company in the world in the mid-19th century.

For her...

Fasciated antshrike, seen on the Pipeline Road.

Birding away from Wisconsin in winter is a welcome relief. Don’t get me wrong, I like Wisconsin’s weather in all seasons, but my family (including my husband, Jerry, and adult daughter, Sue) has a 21-year tradition of going birding in different locations in February or March, for a respite from our coldest winter months. For our February 2020 destination, Sue picked Panama.

We typically visit two locations in a country: one in a higher elevation and one lower or along a...

Indian “hotel boys” showed off their climbing skills while wearing my necklace gifts.

Waves of 110-degree heat rolled off the barren, dusty alley I’d taken as a shortcut. A teacher on sabbatical in Egypt in 1990, I was heading toward a mosque whose white minaret rose above all the other buildings. I was alone, and the alley was eerily empty — no cars, no people, not even a chicken.

Suddenly, three women totally covered in black appeared from a side street and turned toward me, framed by the white mosque behind them. Wow! My photographer’s heart...

“Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio” — Paso Robles, California. Photo by Helen Melman

ITN is temporarily accepting brief write-ups about the US. Information on independent travel. cultural and traditional sites and sources of handmade crafts plus little-known natural wonders are welcome. Avoid touting commercial theme parks, casinos or highly publicized touristy sites.

Email or write to Travelers’ Intercom USA, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.

Murals to sequoias in California

Consider a day trip to Exeter, a...


To escape the winters in Michigan, my travel companion and I, now in our mid 70s, have been going to Europe and Southeast Asia each year for five to six months at a time. However, since none of the countries that we normally visit have been accepting US passports during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Nov. 3, 2020, we returned to Mexico, one of the few countries that will let us in and one that is familiar to us.

It was our ninth visit to the city of Oaxaca, in the state of Oaxaca.