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Archive for March, 2012

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Friday’s Friendly Funny: How not to pickpocket

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Don’t lose your head over airport security

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Christopher Elliott’s favorite place to visit

We’re finishing up our Chris Elliott video series which we shot at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show. In case you missed it, here are the first two from this series:

  1. Chris Elliott talks travel consumer advocacy at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show
  2. Travel consumer advocate Chris Elliott shares his best travel tips

In this video, Chris and I chat about natural disasters, and who (if anyone) is at fault when a traveler experiences one far from home. We also mention our favorite destinations, and I couldn’t pick just one. I love traveling too much! See which place we each picked.

But that’s not all! I managed to snag two copies of Chris’ book, “Scammed: How to Save Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals,” and he signed them.

Win a free trip for 2 to China with Friendly Planet Travel!

Two trips to fantastic destinations given away, four more free tours to go. If you haven’t won a trip yet, then this is for you.

You might have seen that we’re giving away a trip for two to China on our Taste of China tour, and you might have already entered our sweepstakes. If you haven’t, there’s still time.

A Friendly Planet traveler and a guest will be on their way to see Beijing, China’s capital and host of the 2008 Summer Olympics; Shanghai, often called the “Paris of the East;” and Xi’an, where one of the most fascinating archeological finds in the world, the Terracotta army, is found.

Don’t wait to visit our Facebook page and fill out the entry form. If you entered to win the Best of South Africa tour or Amazing Peru tour, then your name is already in the pool and you don’t have to enter again. But referring your friends to enter will get you more chances to win!

Who would you take with you to China? Invite that person to enter, and that’s two more chances to win! I like those odds!

And if you’re still not convinced, I have lots to say about the fascinating country of China. It’s a beautiful place, full of fast-paced cities, ancient history, lots and lots of people, plenty of great shopping, and cultural experiences everywhere. I recently went to China, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. You simply have to see it to believe it. I’ll be sharing my experiences on my trip in the future, so stay tuned.

The winner of our Taste of China tour and a guest will win round-trip flights from Los Angeles via Air China, including fuel surcharges, taxes, and fees; all intra-China flights and ground transportation; and deluxe and first-class hotels with a private bathroom.

Also included are 12 meals, including eight buffet breakfasts, three lunches, and one dinner; comprehensive touring programs, including entrance fees; and a professional, English-speaking tour director and local guides.

What are you waiting for? Hop over to our Facebook page and enter to win this fantastic trip!

“Last Dance in Havana” voted the next Friendly Planet Travel Book Club selection

I asked and you answered: What book should we read for our next Friendly Planet Travel Book Club meeting that will explore the people and culture of Cuba? You voted, and it was a close one! We tallied your votes, and the book we’ll be reading is “Last Dance in Havana,” by Eugene Robinson.

This novel takes readers on a journey through the culture of Cuba, using music as a lens. Despite Castro’s attempts to shut down nightclubs, obstruct artists, and subsidize only what he wants, the musicians and dancers of Cuba cannot stop. In this provocative work, Robinson takes readers on a lyrical tour of a country on the verge of revolution, using its musicians as a window into its present and future.
I encourage you to pick up this book to get a glimpse of what it’s like in Cuba (after all, isn’t that what traveling is all about?). “Last Dance in Havana” is available at your local bookstore, or available for download on your e-reader. We’re gathering on April 17 at the Jenkintown Library to dive into the wonders of Cuba through “Last Dance in Havana.” Get reading, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Traveling with the Kents

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

The top 10 affordable destinations of 2012

I would never offer a tour that wasn’t a terrific value — that’s the core of our business at Friendly Planet Travel. But there are some tours that are so value-packed, I want to point them out specifically.

I had the opportunity to do just that at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show last month. I named my speech “The Top 10 Affordable Destinations of 2012,” and delivered exactly what I promised. Check out my speech in it’s entirety below.

If you don’t have time to watch the full video, I’ve detailed a few of my favorites, as shared in my speech, below.

Pick #9: Ireland. Like Greece, Ireland has gone through some difficult financial times, but you would never know it from the incredibly friendly and welcoming people you’ll meet when you visit. Ireland has always been a popular destination for Americans, but in the coming years, Ireland is expected to see record numbers of tourists. That’s no surprise. The country is beautiful, with lush, green landscapes; picturesque towns and villages; castles galore; and plenty of pubs where you can mix with the locals, especially since they speak your language.

Pick #6: India. This wild, disorganized country of over a billion people is simply amazing. It has plenty of history and culture to experience and admire. It has an educated, entrepreneurial population that is rushing toward modernity at the speed of light. It has the most gorgeous building I’ve seen, the Taj Mahal, and believe me when I tell you that no picture does this palace justice. That’s how all of India is.

Pick #3: China. Each year, we wait to see if interest in China will finally drop among travelers, but it never does. This is a country that continues to amaze travelers, with its ancient history, gorgeous landscapes, incredibly welcoming people, and, of course, the food. Oh, and did I mention that you can buy an entire wardrobe for pennies on the dollar? Travel to China continues to be a terrific bargain.

Pick #1: Cuba. You might be thinking Cuba is a place that Americans can’t visit. But in the past year, the rules have changed, and a few tour operators are lucky to have been granted one of the new people-to-people licenses, including us. This tropical island is a 50-minute flight from Miami, but until recently, it could just have easily been on Mars. Thanks to a liberalizing of laws, Americans can visit Cuba legally. Visiting Cuba is like taking a trip back to the ’50s, and not just because of the cars. When you visit Cuba, you get to see how people have created a life for themselves with very little money or resources. The music is everywhere, street parties abound, and everyone is welcome to attend. It’s quite an experience.

What places are you planning to visit in 2012? One of these or somewhere different? Let me know here.

Travel consumer advocate Chris Elliott shares his best travel tips

I’ve shared the first interview with Chris Elliott at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, but I know you’ve been eagerly awaiting more. Everyone needs their Chris Elliott fix!

I’m here to give it to you. In this video, Chris and I discuss how travelers should prepare for a trip. Chris mentions the importance of using a travel agent when picking a destination (I swear I didn’t ask him too!), and we both said packing lightly is travel gospel.

Hit play to see what else we recommended as our “travel dos.”

Don’t miss part three, coming soon!

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Not with our Build-Your-Own-Cruise Engine!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Announcing the winner of Friendly Planet Travel’s FREE trip to Peru

Here we are at the second drawing of our “Win the World” Facebook sweepstakes. If you’ve been following the blog, you heard our interview with Jamie Bartlett, winner of the South Africa giveaway. So you know what it sounds like to win one of these trips.

This time, the winner of our Amazing Peru tour will get an all-expenses-paid trip for themselves and a guest to see all the wonders Peru has to offer. We randomly selected our winner on March 1 from over 13,000 entries and just got in touch with her.

That’s right, Lillian Mayes from Colorado is the winner of our Amazing Peru tour. Congratulations!

Want to be our next winner of a free trip for two to China? Enter on the Friendly Planet Travel Facebook page. We’re giving away a trip per month until the end of June! If you put your name in the running in January or February, your name is automatically entered for our next giveaway to China. But you can increase your chances of winning by referring your friends on Facebook. For every friend you refer who enters, your name gets entered again — you could have your name in there 100 times, or more! So what are you waiting for? Good luck travelers!

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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