Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘USA Today’

Media spotlight: Friendly Planet’s people-to-people license renewal for travel to Cuba

Announcing our people-to-people license renewal to travel to Cuba has been incredibly exciting for all of us at Friendly Planet. We’re passionate about showing travelers everything this historical and cultural country has to offer, and I’ve been doing my best to spread the word about people-to-people travel to Cuba through the media. Here are some recent news stories that have featured us, in case you haven’t seen them yet.

Cuba ‘people to people’ trips back on track for Americans.” USA Today’s Laura Bly was one of the first to report that the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) approved license renewals for people-to-people programs to Cuba, and ours was one of them. For more background on the license renewals across the industry, be sure to read her full article.

Cuba culture trips back on as licenses are renewed.” Christine Armario of the Associated Press tapped me for information about the changes we made in our Cuba programs to make sure they complied with requirements. I also forecast my hope for continued travel to Cuba in the coming years. Click the link above to read her story in full.

Cuba Radio Interview.” I spoke with the KPAM Portland Travel Show about the people-to-people program that facilitates travel to Cuba, and how Americans act as personal ambassadors on these tours. Listen to my interview for all the details.

I hope you find this information useful in learning more about American travel to Cuba. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions about traveling to Cuba through people-to-people licenses in the comments section.

Ecuador still under a state of emergency, Friendly Planet issues refunds for cancelled departure dates

There is more news coming out of Ecuador today. Overnight the protests in Ecuador subsided, but USA Today is reporting that the political situation still remains unstable and the country will remain under a week long state of emergency.

We cancelled our Thursday, Sept. 30 departure to Ecuador from Miami. The travelers effected will have their payments fully refunded. Of course they were disappointed at this news, but understood we would never send travelers into harm’s way.

As for our nine Friendly Planet travelers were in Guayaquil, Ecuador last night, they were not able to depart for Quito to come back to the United States yesterday. We were in contact with the U.S. Department of State who told us that our travelers should remain at the airport and not go to a hotel.

Friendly Planet’s Galapagos representative was with them at the airport the entire night, and I’m happy to report that the flight finally returned to the U.S. today. Everyone is safe, happy to be home, and glad they had the chance to see the Galapagos before the police strike.

As of this writing, we have reinstated our Oct. 3 departure to the Galapagos, as the situation in Ecuador has returned to its peaceful norm. While a state of emergency officially exists, the situation is calm, and the government is fully in control. The strike is over, and Ecuador is once again open for business as usual.

I will continue to update you with more news on the blog as I receive it. And as always, write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 if you have any other concerns.

The incredible shrinking airline seat

In the 30 plus years I’ve been traveling, I’ve seen many changes in air travel, including the incredible shrinking personal space on flights. Anyone who’s recently traveled in economy class can attest that seats and leg room couldn’t possibly get any smaller or tighter.

That’s why a recent article in USA Today caught my eye. Evidently, some unrealistic designers of airline seats are proposing an even smaller seat for planes that would cost passengers less. I have to ask the question. How much space are you willing to sacrifice to fly for less money?

Personally, I think coach class is cramped enough. I’m not willing to lose another inch of leg room. But the new SkyRider airline seat from Aviointeriors is proposing that 23 inches is all you need.

USA Today reported that passengers would sit on an angle in these seats. And they’re described as feeling as though you’re riding horseback. That doesn’t sound comfortable to me. But after all, who needs comfort? Since, as the thinking goes, when in pursuit of a cheap ticket, we travelers will bind ourselves in rubber bands and stow ourselves into the overhead compartments, right?

The idea behind this devilish concept of smaller seats is that they would cost less. Also, as a bonus (not for the traveler, but for the airlines), they accommodate more passengers on a plane, yielding increasing revenue for you know who.

Thankfully, these seats won’t be showing up in any airplanes soon. The idea is only percolating. But low-cost and domestic airlines that are looking for ways to make more money will no doubt find these attractive. After all, it’s not much of a leap between charging for your checked bag, an aisle seat, a bottle of water, and saddle seating all the way to your next destination.

Flip over to the USA Today article to get all the details about these seats. Then come back to the blog and tell me what you think about them. Would you ever consider buying a seat as small as the SkyRider, even for a discounted ticket price? And while you’re at it. Tell me what experiences you’ve had recently when you’ve had to fly the “friendly” skies.

Transcript of my chat with Chris Gray Faust, creator of Chris Around the World

Last week I posted my podcast with Chris Gray Faust, former USA Today travel editor and creator of Chris Around the World. If you want to read through the interview, go right ahead. I have the transcript that includes the complete interview between me and Chris, proofed for clarity.

Chris Gray Faust: Great travel places you’re not thinking of

Chris Gray Faust

Traveling and writing are two of my favorite things. Put them together and you have what I think is one of the best jobs. And Chris Gray Faust has it. She’s the former travel editor of USA Today and creator of the travel Web site, Chris Around the World.

I caught up with Chris the other day to talk about her career and her favorite travel destinations — many of which are off the beaten path. She shared how she discovered them and why you should put them on your list as your next travel destination.

Chris also talked about her travel advice and the inside scoop on her upcoming iPhone app, and much more. You can listen to our conversation in the podcast below.

Chris has been a journalist for over 20 years. She started at the York Daily Record in Pennsylvania and went on to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and finally to USA Today. In between reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, covering urban education, and focusing on numerous other beats, Chris discovered her passion for traveling.

Her latest venture, Chris Around the World, is an outgrowth from her work at USA Today. It’s a helpful Web site offering travel tips, books, gear, news, photos, and more from Chris’s experiences around the globe.

So pop in your headphones or turn your speakers up, here’s another Friendly Planet Travel podcast with Chris Gray Faust.

Weekly wrap up: Friendly Planet featured on MSNBC, USA Today, and more

Per our usual end of the week wrap up, I wanted to share with you where Friendly Planet tours (and me!) have been featured around the media world.


MSNBC.COM: Exotic 8-night Ecuador tour on sale


USA TODAY: Exotic 8-Night Ecuador Tour w/Air from $1,299


Peter Greenberg Worldwide: Friendly Planet Taste of Vietnam Tour Now Only $1,199


TRAVEL BLOG SITES: Peggy Goldman writes Friendly Planet’s blog

Friendly Planet Travel in the news

Instead of ringing a bell here every time Friendly Planet Travel makes headlines, I thought it would be easier to provide a wrap up post every week or so that highlights some of the recent press coverage we’ve gotten. Way to go, FPT team!

Thumbnail image for New Picture (1).jpgAugust 20

USAToday.com: Athens & Greek Isles Cruise package

MSNBC.com: Athens & Greek Isles Cruise package

Diva in a Carry On: Friendly Planet Travel and Kiva partnership

August 24

MSNBC.com: Morocco package

Budget Travel Real Deals: Morocco package

August 25

Treehugger.com: Morocco package

August 26

Topix.com: Morocco package

Friendly Planet Travel’s eight-day Athens and Greek cruise hits USA Today

USA Today’s expert travel advice column, ShermansTravel, featured our eight-day Athens and Greek Isle cruise for $999 in its Editor’s Travel Deal Review.

Yes, I DID say eight days in Athens and Greek Isles cruise for $999. Have a look at the article and our original blog post for the full scoop.

USAToday.jpg

Twitter yourself a great travel deal

Last week I touched upon how travel tweeting — by both the travelers themselves and the companies that get them on their way — has taken off in a big way.
A few weeks ago I commented on a story in USA Today about how travelers can use Twitter to snag some fast-moving travel deals. The article was fantastic, but in my comment, which has made it’s way to the top of the comment stack :) , I let readers in on some tips to further leverage Twitter to find those travel deals easier than ever before, such as hashtags, searches, and Twitter platforms. Have a look to find out more.
And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow us @FriendlyPlanet for the latest Friendly Planet Travel news and a peek behind the curtain at the Friendly Planet Travel office, as well as tips, tricks, and deals for traveling the world.
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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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