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How Does the New Cuba Policy Affect Travel and Tourism?

New opportunities for Cuba travel

We are very excited and enthusiastic about the changes in Cuba policy announced today by President Obama. According to our understanding, there will be some changes forthcoming regarding diplomatic relations, commerce, flow of information and, of course, tourism. The new rules have not yet been announced, but several things are clear. 

  • Without an end to the embargo, we will not be able to hop on a flight and spend a weekend at the beach in Cuba.
  • With new rules that are sure to come in the next weeks, there will be many more opportunities and less restrictions regarding how Americans are able to travel to Cuba.

Regarding the second point, we are truly excited to be able to expand our group tours to Cuba. At present, we’re selling three programs with set departures. In addition, we operate many groups during the year covering a wide spectrum of interests. Among them are photographers, architects, teachers, doctors, lawyers and jurists, family groups and many others.

We are hoping to see more relaxed rules that will permit us to offer a wider variety of programs, including participating in some of Cuba’s unique festivals and events. For example, in addition to the marathon in Cuba that brings a large number of participants to the island from many countries, including the USA, we would like to offer opportunities to participate in the music and film festivals, an annual bike race that is similar to the tour de France, and others.

What will likely change, and what will not

Our travelers prepay all their Cuba services in the USA. However, since it will soon be possible to use credit cards in Cuba, we anticipate that traveling to the island will be much easier for our passengers. At the moment, travelers need to take cash with them, to cover any purchases they want to make. In today’s world, it’s not so common to have to carry cash, and that makes many people uncomfortable. Perhaps, although this is not yet clear, it will finally be possible to bring back some of those Cuban cigars and rum, which today’s traveler can only enjoy on the island.

According to the OFAC notice published this afternoon, Dec. 17, some changes will be made to the regulations. “OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming weeks. None of the announced changes takes effect until the new regulations are issued.”

So, for the moment:

  • We still need to carry cash when we visit Cuba
  • We still need to participate in a licensed program, according to present rules
  • We still have to leave the cigars and rum in Cuba

But if the changes are as sweeping as President Obama suggested in his speech, we at Friendly Planet will be very busy adding hotel rooms and plenty of new travel programs to our menu of offerings.

See the REAL Cuba while you can

One last thought. For anyone who is anxious to see the “real” Cuba, do it now. In time, the island in a time bubble will become something else. And while it will always be a fascinating and wonderful experience to visit Cuba, banking, high speed internet and all the other changes that will take place will make Cuba another country. We expect many people will want to see it before any of those changes occur, and we’re ready to help them do it.

Friendly Planet Travel Cuba Tours and Travel Packages

Top 7 destinations all 20-somethings need to visit

Millennials,

Now’s the time to ditch your desk jobs (at least for a week), and go experience the wonders of travel. There’s no better time than in your twenties to throw caution to the wind and experience the incredible world around you.

But what exotic destinations should you visit? Have no fear. Here’s my list of top destinations for 20-something travelers.

1. Spain

Want to party? Spain’s the place for you. Tapas + discotecas + churros and chocolate = the ultimate Spanish getaway.

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It’s your second chance to save on EVERY Friendly Planet tour!

Our blowout Cyber Monday Sale was a huge success, with travelers booking hundreds of once-in-a-lifetime trips to exotic destinations. Since our sale was such a big hit, we’re giving travelers that missed out on these incredible savings (or want to plan another trip) a second chance to book an unforgettable international getaway! 

During our Second Chance Monday Sale, we’ll be discounting EVERY Friendly Planet Travel package up to $300, allowing travelers to choose from tours to more than 40 counties, spanning Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and more!

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Discounts on EVERY Friendly Planet tour during 24-hour Cyber Monday Sale

The holiday season is a time of giving, so this year, we’re giving the gift of travel — at a tremendous discount! This Cyber Monday, our team at Friendly Planet Travel is discounting EVERY tour by up to $500 (plus additional savings from early booking discounts) making international travel extremely affordable for globetrotters with serious wanderlust.

While our last Cyber Monday Sale offered massive discounts to 36 world-class destinations, this year’s sale is even bigger! Travelers can now visit more than 40 countries, spanning Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and more, at discounts between $100 and $500 per person.

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For the most memorable vacation, explore the world with your family

When it comes to international family travel, it’s amazing how times have changed. My parents never even thought of taking me on a trip overseas, and while I took my children on international trips when they were younger, I suspect it was only because I worked in the travel industry. Most of friends told me I was crazy to take my five and eight year olds “overseas.” But today, international family travel has almost become the norm, as more and more parents, children, and grandparents embark on multigenerational journeys together.

A recent AAA survey found that multigenerational travel is one of the hottest trends in the travel industry today, with about 36 percent of travelers planning to take a multigenerational trip in the next year alone. Families are seeking new ways to form life-long bonds and create lasting memories, and nothing does that better than sharing in the joy and excitement of international travel.

Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we’ve seen this trend firsthand, as more grandparents and parents continue to turn to us to help them book unforgettable family excursions. That’s why we’ve just unveiled our latest family-friendly travel packages that take families to some of the most exotic destinations in our world. Our tours visit seven countries — Costa Rica, Japan, Thailand, Kenya, Greece, South Africa, and China — at special, family-friendly departure times and rates, with discounts up to $950 for children under 12.

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VIDEO: A glimpse into China

China is a dynamic nation that perfectly unites the ancient past and modern present. Travelers can visit Shanghai, China’s most modern metropolis, and stand in the shadow of the city’s 126 skyscrapers. Visitors can hop a high speed train or take a short flight to Beijing and wander among some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, which have stood frozen in time for millennia. But your trip doesn’t end there. Expand outward to explore the romantic city of Hangzhou, the culinary hotbed of Chengdu, or the ghost city of Fengdu. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re dreaming of a dynamic getaway, one that will introduce you to an entirely new culture, China is the destination for you. Here’s just a sampling of the unforgettable experiences that await you.

What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to experience this top destination and open your mind to the wonders of our unique world.

Getaway Dossier: The quest for pura vida in Costa Rica

There are few destinations in the world where you can lounge on the beach in the morning, zip line through the jungle at midday, and stroll the streets of a European-inspired capital at night. While Costa Rica might be one of the smallest countries in Central America, it’s certainly jam-packed with unforgettable adventures.

I’ve already fallen in love with this destination, so now I want to share my newest must-visit getaway with you! Check out my latest Getaway Dossier below:

Culture: Embrace pura vida: It’s not often that a single saying grows into a national identity, but in Costa Rica, the phrase pura vida has encapsulated a nation. Pura vida — or pure life — is the perfect description for life in this Central American nation. Locals use the phrase informally, as a salutation (Hola, pura vida), to say thank you (Gracias, pura vida), and to express satisfaction or gratitude (Toda es pura vida), but it truly means much more. Costa Rica’s a country filled with spirited and welcoming people — lovingly called Ticos — who express an undeniable joy for life. It’s a culture that respects the earth before all else, and allows visitors to reconnect with the simple pleasures of life. The pura vida spirit lives in visitors long after a trip to Costa Rica.

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Friday’s Friendly Funny: The first-class treatment

Happy Friday and happy Halloween!

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.

Can you guess the most popular European destinations to visit by rail?

Rail travel is the most sophisticated route to international adventure. Imagine sipping a cappuccino as you traverse the Tuscan countryside or enjoying a spot of afternoon tea while you await your arrival in Paris. It’s truly a relaxing, easy, and fast way to travel.

In fact, I believe rail travel is perhaps the best way to explore Europe. It quickly transports visitors between top destinations, without the hassle of road traffic or airport security. Plus, when taking a train from place to place, you depart from one city center and arrive in the next, completely eliminating the hassle and expense of those long transfers to the airport.

More than 713 million passengers traveled across the EU by rail between April and September of 2014, showing resurgence in popularity among locals and internationals alike. But can you guess what the top destinations to visit by rail were for the summer of 2014?

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QUIZ: What’s your travel IQ?

You might consider yourself a travel expert, but how well do you really know your stuff? Can you name the capital of Peru? Do you know how many pyramids are in Egypt? What about how long it takes to fly from New York to Dubai?

Take Friendly Planet Travel’s travel IQ quiz to discover if you’re more of a first-time flyer or a worldly wayfarer. Here’s a question to get you started.

1. Which country’s flag is this?

  1. Tanzania
  2. Ecuador
  3. Spain
  4. Brazil

Click “read more” to see the answer.

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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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