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See India for free! Enter to win our final Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes giveaway

WONDER OF THE WORLD: The winner of this free trip will
get to see all India has to offer, including the Taj Mahal!

I love to explore destinations that have an exotic culture, beautiful scenery, and hospitable people. Few places capture these traits better than India, which is why I decided to offer our Taj Mahal Express tour as our sixth and final Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes trip giveaway.

One lucky traveler and a guest will have the chance to win a free nine-day excursion to India –up to a $4,800 value. To enter to win the trip of a lifetime, visit our Facebook page and fill out an entry form. If you’ve already entered to win the trip to Turkey or Ireland, then you will automatically be submitted to win this trip as well.

Looking to swing the odds in your favor? Then start spreading the word about our sweepstakes to friends and family. For every entry into our sweepstakes from one of your referrals, you’ll get an extra entry for yourself.

Our Taj Mahal Express tour explores the “golden triangle” of India, which includes the cities of Delhi, Agar, and Jaipur, all filled with vibrant sights and sounds. Travelers will also have the opportunity to visit one of the eight Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Experiencing the spiritual and exotic atmosphere of India will surely be an unforgettable adventure.

The prize for the winner and a guest includes round-trip airfare and all intra-India ground transportation. It also includes accommodations at superior and deluxe hotels; daily breakfasts and a farewell dinner; a comprehensive touring program, including entrance fees; a professional, English-speaking tour director; and more. If you’re interested in finding out more information about the Taj Mahal Express tour, check out the detailed itinerary online.

If you don’t believe that you can win, check out these blog posts about our last four winners, who all won a free trip for themselves and a guest!

I’m sad to see our Win the World sweepstakes come to an end, but I’m excited to offer this amazing trip to India to one last winner. This is your final chance to win a free trip with us, so don’t forget to enter on Facebook! I can’t wait to announce our final winner on August 1. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Update on Peru winner

Since there is still some time before I choose the fifth Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes winner, I thought now would be a good time to catch up with one of our past winners to see how her free trip went.

Our Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin first sat down with our second Win the World winner, Lillian Mayes, to interview her right after she won the all-expenses-paid trip to Peru. In this interview, Lillian explained that she was most excited about visiting Machu Picchu.

We thought we’d bring Lillian back to tell us how her trip went and hear how she liked the Inca ruins. You’ll also get the inside scoop about what it’s like to take a Friendly Planet Travel tour. Listen to this podcast below!

                                                                                                             

Thanks for speaking with us again, Lillian. I’m so happy that you had an amazing time in Peru! I hope to see you again on another Friendly Planet Travel tour.

If you’re on the go, you can also right click on this link, and select “save link as” to download it to your computer and save it to your mobile device. And be sure to scroll down to see some pictures from Lillian’s trip.

Lillian’s tour group
Lillian posing with some Peruvians
Lillian and her husband at Machu Picchu 
Going on a horseback riding adventure
Visiting Lake Titicaca

Friday’s Friendly Funny: How NOT to win a free trip

We promise we won’t make you scratch and sniff the screen! Just enter our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a trip for yourself and a friend on our Taste of Ireland and Taj Mahal Express tours. It’s as easy as that –so be sure to enter to get your name in the drawing!

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.

See Ireland for free in our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes

Anyone who knows me knows I can’t pick a favorite destination to visit — every city and country is just as entrancing as the next. But I can safely say that a favorite destination among my travelers for its lush countryside, friendly and wonderful people, and the array of things to do and see, is Ireland.

WIN A FREE TRIP: See the Cliffs of Moher (and more!) on a
free trip to Ireland, courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel

That’s why we chose our A Taste of Ireland tour as the next giveaway in our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes. One lucky traveler and guest will see Ireland for free on a trip that’s worth $3,600! To enter, flip to our Facebook page and fill our the entry form. If you already entered your name in our Turkey drawing, it’s automatically entered for this trip too!

As before, you can earn extra entries into our sweepstakes by spreading the word to your family, friends, coworkers, Facebook friends, and anyone else who would love to win a free trip. For every entry into our sweepstakes from your referrals, you’ll get an extra entry for yourself.

This seven-day tour to Ireland will hit all the major stops — Dublin, Kerry, Killarney, Kilkenny, and Limerick. Travelers will see some of the castles that make Ireland famous, along with old-fashioned houses and sprawling meadows. They’ll see the Cliffs of Moher, the most majestic cliffs in Ireland, and much much more. It’s no surprise that this picturesque island is referred to as the Emerald Isle.

The prize for the winner and a guest includes round-trip airfare, including fuel surcharges and all ground transportation and transfers. It also includes accommodations in superior and deluxe hotels; daily Irish breakfasts and two dinners; a comprehensive touring program, including entrance fees; a professional, English-speaking driver and guide; and more.

There’s so much more to Ireland, so be sure to check out the detailed itinerary of the trip. Our Ireland trip is one of our best-selling tours, and I’m so glad a lucky traveler will get to experience it for free. So remember to enter on Facebook, and help us spread the word by referring your friends for more entries to win. I can’t wait to announce the winner of this one on July 1!

And the winner of our free trip to Turkey is …

TRIUMPHANT TURKEY: Steve Phillips has won
a free trip to Turkey!

You might think that I’ve lost some of my excitement over announcing the winners of our Win the World Facebook sweepstakes. After all, I’ve announced three winners already.

But it hasn’t gotten old yet. I was still as excited as ever to call a Friendly Planet Traveler and let that lucky Facebook fan know they’re going on our Best of Turkey tour — with a friend, for free!

This time around it was Steve Phillips from New York who picked up the phone! Here’s the kicker — Steve is going on a trip to Kenya with us next month, and his family purchased the optional extension to Istanbul!

What a coincidence! He’s going to have an opportunity to enjoy a taste of what lies ahead of him on our Best of Turkey tour. Listen in to hear Steve tell me about his upcoming Friendly Planet Travel trip, his two previous tours with us, and how excited he was to win!

                                                                                                             

Congratulations Steve! And for the rest of you, there are still more chances to win! Our next big giveaway is to Ireland. One lucky winner and a guest will get to enjoy the lush, green scenery and the friendly, outgoing Irish people that the country is known for. It’s easy to enter — just hit our Facebook page, fill out the entry form, and then refer your friends for more chances to win. Good luck!

See Turkey for free!

May 1 marked the beginning of the second round of our Win the World Sweepstakes. This time, one of the three trips we’re giving away is an amazing trip for two to Turkey on our 14-day Best of Turkey tour (a $4,000 value)! Today’s the last day to enter, so be sure to check out our Facebook page for your chance to win!

Turkey offers the best of the Middle East and Europe, and boasts a rich and long-standing history. Whether you’ve traveled there before or just visited in your dreams, our Best of Turkey tour is sure to amaze.

Don’t believe me? Maybe some of the pictures below will help exhibit all that Turkey has to offer.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly called the Blue Mosque, is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul. The blue tiles that adorn the walls of its interior are what give the mosque its name. This sight is not to be missed when visiting Turkey’s capital city.

Also located in Istanbul, Hagia Sofia was first an Orthodox basilica, then a mosque, and became a museum in 1935. It is said to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture, and many say that it inspired the design of the Blue Mosque.


Image courtesy of Istanbul.com

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in history. Shoppers can find jewelry, furniture, carpets, leather goods, clothing, and more while walking through this beautiful market. 

Kusadasi is a beautiful shore town on Turkey’s Aegean coast, and has long been a center of art and culture. Travelers will soak up the sun and fun in this sunny resort location.

One of the most famous sights in Cappadocia are the huge rock formations. The people who lived there carved out houses, churches, and monasteries from the rocks, and they’re a wonder to walk through. 

Pamukkale, located in Southwestern Turkey, is a natural site made up of hot springs and travertines. Travelers come from all over to bathe in the pools of water, and have done so for thousands of years. 
Troy is best known as the city from the Trojan War, around which the Illiad by Homer was based. Travelers will see beautiful ancient ruins, and feel like they’re stepping back in time. 
Ephesus was first a Greek city, then a Roman city, and now stands in modern-day Turkey. The Theater in Ephesus, shown here, has seating for 25,000 people and was used for concerts, plays, religious and philosophical discussions, and gladiator and animal fights.

This symbolic Trojan horse at Canakkale stands in commemoration of the fallen Turkish soldiers from World War I.
If you want to see more, you can … for free! Just visit our Facebook page to enter to win a free trip for two to Turkey. And don’t forget to refer your friends for more chances to win. Good luck to all our travelers!

Like Friendly Planet Travel on Facebook to enter to win a free trip to Turkey!

LIKE US AND WIN: Enter our Facebook sweepstakes for
a chance to win three amazing trips!

In the first three months of 2012, we gave away three amazing trips through our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes — one to South Africa, one to Peru, and one to China. After the excitement of Phase I, and a one-month hiatus to catch our breath, we’re ready to launch Phase II of this amazing program!

Yes, that means the Friendly Planet Travel Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes is back on with three more trips for a winner and the guest of his or her choice over the next three months. The first trip up for grabs? A getaway for two to the crossroads of Europe and Asia — Turkey — on our Best of Turkey program, valued at more than $5,000.

So how can you win? Since it’s the start of Phase II, we’re wiping the slate clean. If you entered your information between the months of January and March, you must enter your information again to be entered in Phase II. The good news is that once you’ve submitted your name, you’re in the running for all three giveaways!

As in Phase I, you can earn extra entries into our sweepstakes by inviting your family, friends, coworkers, Facebook friends, and anyone else who would love to win a free trip to enter. For every entry into our sweepstakes from your referrals, you’ll get an extra entry for yourself.

Our Win the World Sweepstakes will give travel aficionados a chance to escape to an exotic destination with included flights, great hotels, some meals, and plenty of escorted touring, all the great features travelers expect from Friendly Planet. The winner will experience visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, and Ephesus. Check out the detailed itinerary for our amazing Best of Turkey tour on our website to learn more about all that the winner will see.

I’ve written in detail about what travelers should expect while visiting Turkey, so if you want to further explore the facets of this destination, check that out. After the Best of Turkey tour, we’ll be giving away our A Taste of Ireland tour on July 1, and our Taj Mahal Express tour on August 1.

But if you don’t enter, you won’t win. And if you don’t help us spread the word by referring your friends, you won’t get extra chances to win. What are you waiting for? Visit our Facebook page, like us, and fill out the form to win one of three marvelous trips.

Oh, and here’s an important tip. If you already like our page, just be sure to fill out the form again to enter Phase II. Refer your friends for more chances to win, and then be ready on June 1 when the next drawing will take place. Maybe I’ll be calling you to tell you that you’ve won!

The Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: A Taste of China

GREAT WALL WINNER: Shari Ashley liked Friendly Planet,
and now she’s going on a free trip to China

If you’re anything like me, you couldn’t help but smile at Shari Ashley’s excitement when I told her she was the third winner of our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes. What a rush!

Once everything cooled down, I asked Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin to talk to Shari a little bit more about herself, what she’s most looking forward to seeing on our Taste of China tour, and other places in the world she hopes to travel to.

What we learned from the conversation is that Shari is quite the traveler — she’s been to Costa Rica, Italy, Egypt, and more! I’m so glad that someone who finds so much passion in travel will have the opportunity to visit another wonderful destination with us.

In the podcast, Shari describes her lifelong goal to visit every continent. Her next trip will probably be to South America, though she can’t decide between Machu Picchu or Iguazu Falls as her destination. If she chooses our new Sensational South America tour, she won’t have to. It includes both destinations in one great program, and new dates and prices will be posted shortly. So, take a look Shari.

Stay tuned, because we’re kicking off the second phase of the Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes on May 1. That means that EVERYONE will have the chance to enter again for three free trips — Best of Turkey, A Taste of Ireland, and Taj Mahal Express. So starting May 1, visit the Friendly Planet Travel Facebook page, enter your information (even if you already have before!), and your name will be in the pot to win! Hopefully I’ll be calling you on June 1 to let you know that you’re going on a free trip to Turkey!

If I could give one piece of advice to a first-time international traveler, it would be …

I’m often asked what advice I have for travelers who are leaving the country for the first time. While I have lots of advice of my own, like purchasing travel insurance, we also have a network of travelers who have some great knowledge to share.

What better way to tap into our travelers’ expertise than on our Facebook page? So, in an installment of our Mad-Lib Monday series I posed the question: “If I could give one piece of advice to a first-time international traveler, I would tell them _____.”

We got over 40 responses, and I thought there was great practical and thoughtful advice! Here are some of my favorites:

  • “Be friendly to the locals and be respectful … you are a guest after all!”
  • “Pack light!”
  • “Be flexible and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
  • “Keep your passport with you.”
  • “Eat local and try everything.”
  • “Bring an extra charged battery for your camera so that u can take pictures of all the memorable places and things u see along the way :)
  • “Keep an open mind.”
  • “Take public transportation and find your way off the beaten path.”
  • “Be patient. Pack only what you can carry. Learn ‘thank you’ in every language!”
I can’t resist mentioning a few thoughts of my own for a first-time international traveler: smile, smile, smile. There was absolutely no one, in any culture I’ve ever encountered, that didn’t respond positively to a sincere, friendly smile. And by the way, that smile will keep you in the right frame of mind to relax, ignore small inconveniences, and simply enjoy the adventure of being in a brand new place!

What would you add? Start the conversation here in a comment below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page to add your tips for first-time international travelers.

The Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Amazing Peru

THEY LIKE FRIENDLY PLANET: Liking our Facebok
page won Lillian and her husband a free trip to Peru

We just announced the third winner of our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes, where Shari Ashley and a guest will go on an all-expenses-paid dream vacation to China. All the excitement made me want to check in with Lillian Mayes, the winner of our Amazing Peru trip.

Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin reached out to Lillian to see if she’d be interested in letting our blog community hear what winning was like, and she agreed. So we set the call up, and jumped on the phone. Lillian filled Caitlin in on where she’s traveled before, what she likes to do, and what she’s most looking forward to seeing when she travels to Peru
Listen in on their conversation below. You can also right click on this link, and select “save link as” to download it to your computer, so you can save it to your mobile device and can listen on the go.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Lillian. We’re looking forward to hearing about your trip to Peru when you come back!

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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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