Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Going abroad for the first time: One traveler’s experience in Ireland

Today, we’re continuing to share travel experiences that some Friendly Planet Travel staff members have had while abroad. Terence talked about traveling to Tokyo, and Liz let us in on her lovely trip to Vietnam.

In our next post, we’re speaking with Kristin Wagner, a member of our Reservations team. Kristin had never left the country before, so we’ve been looking forward to hearing how her trip on our Discover Ireland tour went. We sat down for a Q-and-A with Kristin to talk about her experience in Ireland, and what it meant to her as a first-time international traveler.


FP: How was your overall experience in Ireland?

Kristin: It was just amazing. I had never traveled before, so it was my first trip out of the country.

FP: What was the experience of traveling alone like? (more…)

Where you should travel with your tax refund

Tax season is officially over and you might be expecting a refund check in the near future. The average person will receive a tax refund of about $2,755, according to the IRS, which can come in handy if you want to get away on an international vacation. To help, I’ve broken down a few suggestions for where you can travel at a few different price points.

If you’re looking to stay under about $2,000 per person, I recommend:

  • A Taste of China or Beijing & Tokyo. Visiting China is the trip of a lifetime for travelers interested in exploring a culture truly different from their own. The country has impressive modern achievements and an ancient, rich culture. Beijing, China’s capital, and Shanghai, often called the “Paris of the East,” are two of the most dynamic cities in the world. And Xi’an, a large industrial city, is the site of one of the world’s most important archaeological treasures: the army of 2,200-year-old terra-cotta soldiers buried to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor.
  • A Taste of Ireland or Discover Ireland. As I’ve said before, whether you have Irish roots or just a love of Irish culture, there has never been a better year to visit Ireland. That’s because The Gathering, a year-long celebration of Irish ancestry with clan gatherings, festivals, sporting events, music, and concerts, is going on this year. This event only adds to the lush countryside, friendly and wonderful people, and the array of beautiful destinations — Dublin, Kerry, Killarney, Kilkenny, Limerick, and more — in Ireland.
  • Captivating Costa Rica or Costa Rica Pura Vida. From jungles, cloud forests, and active volcanoes to its rivers and Caribbean and Pacific coasts, travelers need to experience everything that makes Costa Rica the jewel of Central America. This destination has beautiful resorts and adventurous travel opportunities — making it the perfect place for every kind of traveler. And the location is out of this world: the island contains 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. (more…)

Why you need to get in on The Gathering in Ireland

There are 34.5 million people in the United States who claim Irish heritage, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011. So if recent St. Patrick’s Day celebrations weren’t enough to make you feel close to your Irish roots, there’s another event you should know about: The Gathering.

The Gathering is a year-long celebration of Irish ancestry with clan gatherings, festivals, sporting events, music, and concerts across Ireland. The Gathering was launched by the Irish Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Tourism in May 2012 and is being supported by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.

Myriad events have been planned throughout the country this year, ranging from concerts and cultural events, to ones meant to help you trace your Irish linage. Whether you have Irish roots or just a love of Irish culture, there has never been a better year to visit Ireland.

Friendly Planet is taking part in the celebration by offering five different tours to Ireland, including one during the very special Fitzgerald Clan Gathering. The Fitzgerald clan, one of Ireland’s oldest and most powerful families, is reuniting in late June and our Fitzgerald Clan Gathering in Ireland tour is for anyone who wants to be a part of it. It’s designed for travelers to discover, or re-discover, their Fitzgerald Clan roots, and especially for those with an interest in tracing their Irish genealogy. You may even be surprised to uncover family ties to the historic Fitzgerald Clan.

It’s looking to be an unforgettable year in Ireland. Are you taking a trip to Ireland in 2013? If so, what are you planning to see and do? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below.

Did you win a free trip to Ireland? Find out now!

It’s been such a whirlwind to give away four free trips to four lucky winners over the past few months. And now it’s time to add another name to the winners list. July is here, which means it’s time to announce our next Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes winner. This time, a traveler and a guest will enjoy a free trip to Ireland — the Emerald Isle!

So I picked a name, dialed a number, and Laurie Forrest picked up. That means that Laurie is the winner of our Taste of Ireland tour! Listen in to Laurie’s reaction as I tell her what she’s won — she was so excited, she stopped me mid-sentence so she could tell her husband about her prize!

                                                                                                             

With our fifth trip awarded, we only have one more trip to give to one lucky winner, and our last giveaway destination is India! Make sure you go to our Facebook page, enter to win, and let your friends know that they should enter as well. The more friends you refer that enter, the more chances you’ll get for yourself to win.

Congratulations again to Laurie, and good luck to all our other travelers who are entering to win our free trip to India!

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!

4 destinations to visit in summer 2012

It’s hard to believe that summer is right around the corner. With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, I started thinking about the best summer destinations to visit in 2012. Here are my thoughts:

Kenya: See the abundance of spectacular wildlife and lavishly gorgeous, incredibly photogenic landscapesKenya. Although June through September is the rainy season, the great migration of animals that cross the Serengeti occurs during this time, making it well worth the trip. Travelers will be amazed to see the plethora of wildlife as the animals take part in their annual search for water and a mate. Think of it as the best safari ever, unfolding right before your eyes.


Ireland: Enjoy the emerald green countrysideIreland. Pleasant weather during the summer allows travelers to enjoy the lush, green scenery that this country is known for. The friendly, outgoing Irish people will make you feel right at home, and travelers will have more chances to take in all of the attractions, as they have the longest operating hours during the summer.


Greece: Explore the ancient secrets of the Greek islands and bask on the sun-splashed Mediterranean beachesGreek Islands. This summer is a great time to visit, as travelers can take advantage of the many bargains being offered to attract tourists. Although Greece is experiencing unrest and a problematic economy, the exquisiteness and charm of the most beautiful islands that exist anywhere in the world remains unchanged.


Italy: Experience the art, fashion, and music that flourish in the citiesItaly. Though a great year-round destination, some places are better visited in the summer. Tuscany is lavishly fertile, with vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see, delectably fresh food, and magnificently endless panoramas and rolling hills. Venice and Florence are also great to visit in the summer, thanks to many outdoor performances and festivals. The Amalfi Coast and Sorrento, aka the Sunbelt of Italy, is home to some of the most beautiful towns, dramatic coastlines, and stunning panoramas in Europe, and should not be missed. There’s also nothing like enjoying a summer evening outside at one of the countless restaurants with a delicious Italian meal, glass of wine, and good friends.


If you’re interested in booking a trip to one of these destinations, or would like to speak with a member of our reservations team about other fantastic summer getaways, you can reach us at 800-555-5765.

Where are you traveling this summer? Let me know your top choices in a comment!

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.

What do you think A Taste of Ireland would be like?

Ireland is a country of amazing beauty and charisma. And its people are warm and welcoming. These two elements are what makes Ireland one of traveler’s most sought-after destinations in the world.

Although there might be economic hardship there right now, you’d never know it from the candor and openness of the people; the wonder of the landscape; and the magnificent, historical sights available to all who travel there.

We’re now offering tours to Ireland for the first time. To kick off our first set of tour dates, we issued a press release with all the details these tours have to offer. Scroll down to get a taste of what a trip to Ireland will be like.


Explore the Marvels of the Emerald Isle with Friendly Planet Travel’s A Taste of Ireland Tour
Travelers can experience Dublin, Kerry, Killarney, Kilkenny, Limerick, and more with this seven-day tour, starting at just $1,744

JENKINTOWN, Pa. — (TRAV PR) — The rich history, warm hospitality, stunning landscape, and authentic Irish food and drink define Ireland as one of the world’s most visited destinations. Thanks to Friendly Planet Travel, a leading tour operator that offers high-quality, affordable vacation packages to exotic destinations worldwide, travelers can experience the authenticity of the Emerald Isle’s rolling green countryside, historic castles, famous pubs, and more on the seven-day A Taste of Ireland tour, all for the unbelievable price of $1,744.

“Ireland is one of the world’s most stunning destinations with outstanding scenery, brilliant castles, and green, rolling hills,” says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “It’s no surprise that this picturesque island is referred to as the ‘emerald isle.’”

A Taste of Ireland includes round-trip airfare, including fuel surcharges, from Newark (many additional departure cities available for an additional cost); all ground transportation and transfers; accommodations in superior and deluxe hotels; daily Irish breakfast and two dinners; a comprehensive touring program including entrance fees; a professional, English-speaking driver and guide, and more.

The tour begins in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin, before traveling to Ireland’s Midlands in County Kerry. Travelers then stop in the little field town of Blarney for a visit to Blarney Castle and a chance to kiss the famous Blarney Stone for the gift of gab. They continue to the Iveragh Peninsula to take in the breathtaking scenery, mountains, and magnificent views of the Ring of Kerry. The tour passes through Killorglin, famous for its unusual street festival, Puck Fair, and the village of Glenbeigh, with panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Passing through the peat bogs, the group arrives in Waterville and continues on to Sneem Village, famous for its brightly colored houses. A stop at the renowned Muckross House, in the heart of the Killarney National Park, rounds out the day.

The journey continues northward to Tarbert with a short boat ride across the mouth of Ireland’s longest river, River Shannon, bringing travelers to the village of Killimer. Travelers experience a view of the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher along the Atlantic Ocean, and enjoy a tour of the Burren Region, known for its impressive scenery and numerous castles and monastic ruins.

After a relaxing day in Limerick, travelers head back to Dublin, stopping in the medieval city of Kilkenny. Stops at the Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral are the culmination of the Ireland experience before travelers take a departing flight from Dublin.

Friendly Planet’s seven-day A Taste of Ireland tour is available for $1,744 on the departure dates of April 23, May 7, and Oct. 8, if booked by Feb. 22.

And for travelers with a little more time, the nine-day Discover Ireland tour, from $2,044, includes nearly all of the highlights of A Taste of Ireland, plus a visit to the old stone city of Galway, known for its narrow streets and busy pubs and the Connemara region, where Gaelic is still spoken. A tour of the Benedictine Monastery, Kylemore Abbey, and the Monastery of Clonmacnoise brings travelers back to Dublin to enjoy their remaining time in “Dublin’s Fair City” and explore Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university.

For more information about Friendly Planet Travel’s A Taste of Ireland and Discover Ireland tours, please visit the company’s website at blog.friendlyplanet.com and the blog at blog.FriendlyPlanet.com.

Press Contact:
Gregory FCA
Jackie Zima-Evans
Associate Vice President
610-228-2138
Jackie@GregoryFCA.com
or
Company Contact:
Friendly Planet Travel
Peggy Goldman
President
215-572-9594 ext. 204
PMGoldman@FriendlyPlanet.com

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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