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Travel enthusiast checks Cuba off her bucket list

Cuba was always on Mimi’s Gough’s bucket list, but she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to check it off. So when the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made people-to-people travel to Cuba legal, Mimi knew she had to jump at the chance to visit this fascinating destination.

Mimi is a travel enthusiast who has visited over 40 countries in her lifetime. She has traveled on escorted tours and on solo explorations, and was once a travel agent herself! Mimi and her husband went to Cuba on our Discover Havana tour in September 2012, and she wrote about her experience for the Portland Press Herald. I loved her write-up, and asked our blogging team to reach out to Mimi to hear more about her trip.

She joined us for a podcast to discuss her trip, why she chose Friendly Planet for her tour, the great people she met along the way, and the most memorable experience she had in Cuba. Listen in for these details and more.

Thanks so much for sharing your tour experience with us, Mimi! We had a great time talking with you.

Travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy explains how travel can help you overcome fear and connect with others

Have you ever been in a foreign country and stopped someone to ask for directions? If you have, there’s a good chance you were greeted with kindness and helpful tips to get you where you needed to go. This simple way of engaging with others is one of the easiest ways to interact with people, which Andrew McCarthy uses as one of his tactics when traveling abroad to break the ice with locals, even if he knows exactly where he is.

This is just one of many parts of Andrew’s travel philosophy, who is the editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler; an actor in such films as “Pretty in Pink,” “Weekend at Bernie’s,” and “St. Elmo’s Fire”; and a director. When we heard he was going to be at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show to promote his first memoir, “The Longest Way Home,” we knew we wanted to hear more from Andrew on how travel has changed his life.

Andrew generously gave us a few minutes of his time after he spoke at the travel show to explain how going outside of your comfort zone can obliterate fear, the transformative power of travel, and how acting and directing has affected his writing. He also talked about how, contrary to first thought, travel actually makes him feel at home. Hit play below to listen to all the details.

Many thanks to Andrew for sharing a few minutes of his time to chat with us! Be sure to follow Andrew on his website and Twitter for the latest information on his travel adventures.

Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Dazzling Dubai

I’ve made seven different calls this year to a handful of lucky travelers to let them know they’ve won a free trip to a far-off destination, all because they “liked” and entered one of our sweepstakes on the Friendly Planet Travel Facebook page. But Elisa Kotin, our latest winner who will be going on a free trip for two to Dubai, might have been the most surprised of all! Listen to her reaction when I called her to let her know that she’d won on our previous post.

Once the dust settled and we let the reality of her win sink in, I asked Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin to catch up with Elisa to find out a little bit more about her. As it turns out, Elisa has a true passion for traveling, and is extremely well traveled. She has been to 70 countries, and Dubai will be her 71st! Though she’s always wanted to go, Elisa has never been to Dubai — so this trip was a great match :-) .

Listen to the below podcast to get a snapshot of Elisa’s life, including how she felt when she won, why she’s grateful that she won the trip from us, her favorite places she’s been, what she enjoys most about travel, and more!

Elisa, I hope you have an amazing time in Dubai, and I look forward to hearing all about it when you return!

Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Taj Mahal Express

LUCKY WINNER: Stacey Foisy will go on a free trip to India!

We still have one more podcast interview to share with you from our Win the World Facebook sweepstakes. I don’t think hearing our winners tell us how it felt to get the call that they won a free trip will ever get old for me.

I asked Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin to chat with Taj Mahal Express tour winner, Stacy Foisy. Stacey told us that she’s been bitten by the travel bug, and was researching other tour options on our website when she stumbled upon our Facebook giveaway. She knew she had to enter for the chance to win a free trip to India.

Listen in as Stacey describes what it was like to win, where she’s traveled to before, and what she’s most looking forward to seeing in India.

                                                                                                             

Thanks so much for sharing with us Stacey! And if you weren’t one of our six winners, I wouldn’t give up hope just yet. We might have a giveaway up our sleeves, coming soon. Stay tuned to our Friendly Planet Travel Facebook page, and you might just see a mirage in the middle of the desert!

The Grannies on Safari’s Cuban Adventure Part 4: The best of Cuba

WONDERS OF CUBA: The Grannies on Safari saw it all
while traveling to Cuba

Few Americans have had the opportunity to visit Cuba in this lifetime. The Grannies on Safari, however, were given this opportunity courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel. These globetrotters came away with a new understanding of Cuban life, and formed their own opinions about what the best aspects of their trip were.

We hope our Cuba podcast series has helped build your knowledge of Cuba and highlighted all of the wonderfully rewarding experiences the country has to offer. Listen as Pat and Regina excitedly fill us in on their favorite parts of the trip, and why they’d love to go again. Also, if you’re interested in seeing their trip in its entirety on their television show, they give the details about the air date in the podcast.

                                                                                                             

Thanks again to the Grannies on Safari for speaking with us about their trip!

The Grannies on Safari’s Cuban Adventure Part 3: Unexpected experiences in Cuba

Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson have no reservations about experiencing all the world has to offer. These Grannies on Safari travel the world and film their adventures for their TV show, so they often expect the unexpected.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: The Grannies on Safari
got to see how the people of Cuba live

But even the Grannies on Safari experienced some things they didn’t anticipate while traveling to Cuba on a trip sponsored by Friendly Planet Travel. Regina and Pat had the opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at the lives of the Cuban people not usually covered by mainstream media. Hear their stories below.

COCO CAB: Regina called these open-air taxis coco puffs!

                                                                                                             

Stay tuned for the final installment of our Grannies on Safari’s Cuban Adventure podcast series.

The Grannies on Safari’s Cuban Adventure Part 2: The tastes of Cuba

CUBAN FLAVOR: The Grannies got to
sample frozen drinks!

If you’re interested in hearing about Cuban culture, look no further. That’s because we’re back with another installment of our podcast with the Grannies on Safari, Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson, who document their world travels for their show.

Most recently, they ventured to Cuba, courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel. Take a listen to our interview below to hear all about their cultural adventures while in Cuba. Can you say cigars, mojitos, and black bean soup?

                                                                                                             

Keep an eye on our Grannies on Safari go to Cuba tag to hear more updates about Regina and Pat’s trip.

The Grannies on Safari’s Cuban Adventure, Part 1: Meeting the people of Cuba

LIFE-SIZE ART: Regina and Pat saw this work of art in Cuba

Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson have returned from their trip to Cuba sponsored by Friendly Planet Travel! For the unacquainted, Regina and Pat are the stars of the PBS TV series, “Grannies on Safari,” sponsored by AARP.

We recently interviewed Regina and Pat for our blog, and they gave us the inside scoop on what their trip to Cuba was like, how they enjoyed their people-to-people experience, and how the trip to Cuba exceeded their expectations.

We’re sharing that interview here — even before their show airs! Since there was so much to talk about, I decided to split our podcast into four installments, and I’m excited to give you the first one below.

                                                                                                         

Regina and Pat’s trip was made possible through People-to-People licensing, which allows Americans to travel to Cuba to promote contact with Cuban people through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and more. Stay tuned for more updates from the Grannies on Safari’s Cuban adventure.

Cuba predictions: What the Grannies on Safari hope to see

Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson, also known the Grannies on Safari, have just returned from their trip to  Cuba, all thanks to Friendly Planet Travel. While we anxiously await a peek at the TV program they filmed during their visit, I wanted to share the second part of our podcast that we conducted with them before they left.

In this part of the interview, Regina and Pat tell Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin what “dying trade” they hope to uncover in Cuba, what old pieces of history they’d like to visit, as well as why Regina was so excited to bring her granddaughter on the trip. Listen in to the rest of their conversation below!

                                                                                                             

Stay tuned to our blog because Regina and Pat will soon fill us in on the wonderful people and places they saw in Cuba. We can’t wait!

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!

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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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