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Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Higgins’

The New York Times calls out our Taste of China tour as a great way save money on a trip to Asia

Asia is a popular destination for savvy travelers, but it’s usually an expensive one.

But if there’s one person who can tell you how to trim your travel budget without trimming your experience, it’s Michelle Higgins of the The New York Times.

Her Practical Traveler column is widely read by travelers who want to see the world at a reasonable price.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when she featured Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour in her article, “Saving Money on a Trip to Asia.”

She uses it as one of the ways to save when booking a trip to Asia because it combines air and hotel. I was even able to tell Michelle how travelers can experience all the wonders of Asia for hundreds of dollar less simply by going in the off season.

There’s one thing about Friendly Planet Travel that differs us from other money-saving tours. We don’t just save you money, we give you the extraordinary for the price of ordinary.

Thanks Michelle for featuring Friendly Planet Travel in your column! Head over to the article to get all of Michelle’s money-saving tips. And if you’re interested in traveling to Asia, look at the 13 tours Friendly Planet Travel offers.

How to stay healthy while traveling

In this past weekend’s New York Times Travel sectionMichele Higgins covered “How Not to Get Sick From a Flight.” While there’s some handy advice in it, some of the measures air travelers take are extreme.

I agree with Michelle that frequent hand washing is the best way to take care of germs that might make you sick. But you’ve heard me tell you this before, and why it’s important to buy travel insurance in the event you get sick when traveling.

However, the excessive attention paid to trying to make our environment as germ-free as possible has, in my opinion, made us incapable of fighting germs the way we were meant to — using our body’s natural defenses.

I like to believe I’m not germaphobic. I don’t use hand sanitizers, except when I know I can’t get to water and soap. And did you know that hand sanitizers can’t kill the number one thing that most people catch – the cold. I’ve also concluded from personal experience that products such as Airborne appear to be ineffective.

Despite traveling frequently, particularly by air, I almost never get sick with anything but a cold, which can’t be avoided if someone on the flight has one. And those nasty cold germs don’t even need to come from your seat mate. Someone sitting in another cabin who is hacking and coughing can make you sick.

After 30 years of being a frequent flier, I’m still healthy. So here are some normal precautions I take when I travel by air:

  • I wipe off the tray table before using it. 
  • When I wash my hands in any public space, I use the paper towel (after drying my hands) to open the door. 
  • I use the protective paper seat covers before using the commode. 
  • I try not to touch the hand rails on the moving sidewalks or escalators inside the airport.

You can buy all the health items described in Michelle’s article that are marketed to make you feel germ-free when traveling by air. But it’s like buying expensive facial creams. You know you’re paying a fortune for something that probably works about as well as mayonnaise. On the off chance the expensive cream might actually work, you pay the money anyway. You do it on the basis of a promise of some potential benefit, and in my opinion, the same is true for many of these products.

That said, it is possible some of these products might be helpful. Not having completed my own advanced degree in microbiology, I can only attest to my general knowledge and experience, but I wouldn’t go to a tremendous amount of trouble to stock up on all of that precautionary stuff. I would just remember to wash my hands a lot. What are some steps you take to avoid getting sick when traveling? Tell me about it in a comment.

Tips from the Practical Traveler: How to avoid the snarls of a cancelled trip

Obviously, a lot of planning goes into putting together a vacation package. Operators set dates and prices more than a year ahead of the departure date so they can be printed in brochures. Today, planning that far ahead comes with a risk.

A few years ago, travelers were smart to book trips as early as possible. Vacations such as cruises and group tours filled up quickly. But that was before the economy took a nose dive. There are far less people with the extra financial cushion to spend on vacations today, and tour operators are worried about finding enough paying customers to cover costs.

As Michelle Higgins says in today’s Practical Traveler, vacationers that are making moves are holding out for last-minute deals. This is forcing tour operators to revise their budgets and cancel more trips.
And as tour operators cancel trips, travelers who have already booked are stuck with airline cancellation fees, botched vacation plans, and other unexpected fees. In her article, Michelle lets readers in on some of the system’s tips and tricks to avoid getting slammed, and called on me for my two cents. Have a look at the article, and keep it in mind when booking your next vacation!

Travel tweeting and the twitterers worth tweeting with, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

As New York Times travel columnist Michelle Higgins wrote, whether you’re on the Twitter bus or off, there’s no denying that companies are taking notice of what is being tweeted about them, and — especially when it comes to travel — that could benefit you in a big way.
Indeed, travelers around the world have jumped on board Twitter as a means to share their experiences, air their grievances, and give and take travel advice. So I was excited to see that last week, The San Francisco Chronicle listed their top choices for travel tweeters that we travel fiends should be following.
What the article didn’t mention however, was some of the great ways travelers can unlock the power of Twitter, beyond simply hitting the “follow” button. So I left a comment with a few of the tips I’ve learned throughout my own travel-tweeting process. I hope you find them as helpful as I did!

Thailand’s tourism troubles (and deals)

The New York Times’ Practical Traveler published an article today about the state of Thailand’s tourism (and the subsequent deals you can now find) amidst some of the recent unrest in Bangkok. The Tourism Authority of Thailand predicts the number of tourists will drop this year, in part because of the anti-government protests that have recently taken place.FP_NYTThailand.jpg
As a result, Thailand has become an even more ideal destination for finding great deals. Thailand is already established as the place to find affordable luxury, and now prices for "five star treatment" is dropping even lower than "three star prices."
When writing the article, Practical Traveler reporter Michelle Higgins asked what I thought about touring in Thailand, since our travel agency frequently books tour throughout the country.
As I said to her, we haven’t had a single cancellation to the Treasures of Thailand tour as a result of the protests (even to the tour that was over there in the middle of the action earlier this month), and we don’t have any concerns about sending tourists today. In fact, I’m heading out for my first trip to Thailand in a few weeks, and I can’t wait!
If you have an interest in international travel (as I assume you do, since you’re here), and especially if you have an interest in Thailand and Asia, the article is definitely a worthwhile read. So have a look!

The New York Times’ Practical Traveler points to Friendly Planet Travel’s practical prices

A recent Friendly Planeteer was interviewed by The New York Times’ Michelle Higgins for her weekly Practical Traveler column.
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Denis Weber, who traveled with us to China in February, pointed out that with our deals, he was able to take advantage of a 10-day tour of Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai for less than what he would have paid for airfare alone had be been trying to book a trip himself. Thanks for pointing us out, Denis!

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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