Those of us who write for newspapers and still enjoy reading 'em tend to think of our travel articles as vital and indispensable to all who encounter them, but I'll concede that maybe, just possibly, we ink-stained scribes are a tad out of touch.
Below is a completely imaginary example of how a typical travel section feature--the good ol' travel advice column--might come across to today's readers:
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TRAVEL Q & A
Q: Dear Travel Section - My three-year-old grandson and I are planning an expedition to the glaciers, fjords and snowfields covered in Blade-Gazette travel features over the past decade. One glitch: my companion suffers from Reynaud's Syndrome and is hampered by frostbite on his thumbs, even with his specially-made pair of eiderdown mittens. Any suggestions?
A: Reynaud's is a common complaint of pint-sized travelers, especially at the extreme latitudes you're likely to be experiencing. Your best bet would be to leave such expeditions for the grandchildren of professional travel writers. If you must go, consider writing to the editors of the Blade-Gazette Health section to see what they propose.
Q: Dear Travel Section - Since we're both crossword-puzzle aficionados, my wife and I would be glad to know about tours of European capitals that, along with the usual sights, include stops highlighting the work of cruciverbalists abroad. As fans of the current crop of Belgian and Dutch puzzle-designers, we're especially eager to set foot in locations that have inspired their 'Across' clues.
A: Tours such as the one you seek can be quite popular. Or so we thought. Although the staff here at Travel shares your admiration for Benelux puzzlers, the only trip that comes close to what you propose is a 38-day barge-and-cogwheel excursion that includes site-visits at Word Search publishers in several Lowland countries (www.bargeacrossanddown.com). Perhaps the Blade-Gazette's Comics and Puzzle Pages Editor might know more.
Q: Dear Travel Section - Can you recommend a travel itinerary based on the life of H. Wilhelm Kneipp, the composer and associate music director of the Newark Philharmonic Orchestra from 1928-1936?
A: Questions such as this one should really be addressed to the Blade-Gazette's Sunday Arts section. From what we can figure out, Mr. Kneipp lived a productive 60-plus years, though due to his nervousness about coal particulate matter--common in the exhaust of ships and trains of the day--he rarely left northeastern New Jersey. Tourists can visit the five Metuchen and Perth Amboy apartments where he spent his most creative and least fussy periods. Those who are ambulatory can traverse the hallways and exit stairwells between them. For tour times and other specifics: www.KneippTrips.org.
Q: Dear Travel Section - I'm interested in exploring behind the scenes at the nation's leading dailies to learn how newsrooms are arranged. Do you know of any in the Midwestern states that might be open to touring, or four-color-process printing plants that give free demonstrations?
A: Not at present. But on the bright side, curious readers can now experience a virtual tour of Blade-Gazette offices, including editors' desks, bulletin boards, snack vending machines, views from windows, etc. To begin your tour, simply click on www.whatsgoingoninthere.com
Q: Dear Travel Section - Unless I am mistaken, it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said: "I travel not to get anywhere, but to go. The great affair is to move." What the heck does that mean, anyway?
A: Who knows? This isn't that kind of forum. Try the Book Review.