Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we try to make every day Earth Day. Our tours are designed to show our travelers some of the most beautiful sights of the world. So we must take care of them. Thats why were firm believers in sustainable travel.
Sustainable travel is a much-discussed concept that is, actually, a great deal more complex than recycling your trash, or trying to use your hotel towels more than once. Not that those arent cardinal rules of all decent world travelers, but if you live in New York and want to visit Thailand, theres no way to avoid the long, environmentally costly flight.
But it is possible to tread softly once at your destination. And by treading softly, I mean treating not only the land, but the people, with respect and dignity.
Friendly Planet Travel tours all rely on local companies, local guides, and as many locally owned and run hotels and attractions as we can possibly arrange, so that the people who live in the places were visiting enjoy the benefit of our visits. By manifestly supporting local communities, they will become better stewards of the resources that give them back a decent living.
We also believe in supporting local communities by contributing to important local projects that provide material help, like digging wells, supplying schools, and contributing to self-help projects for the least privileged. We are motivated every day in our efforts at creating our tours by the belief that in getting to know people and cultures that are different from our own, we build our own small but important bridges toward a healed planet.
Photo by Tali Miller
We already offer many touring opportunities to such destinations as Borneo and Patagonia, where the fragility of the environment is poignantly obvious to the casual visitor.
In the coming months, we hope to add new and exciting special eco-tourism opportunities, so stay tuned for more details here on the blog, on our Web site, and on Twitter.
Yesterday I told you about the poll we held on the Friendly Planet Travel Web site that let you choose the destination of the next Friendly Planet Travel tour. And, as you already know, Madagascar was the most popular destination of choice, followed closely by Antarctica.
While Antarctica is growing exponentially in popularity, it is precisely the countrys desirability as a tourist destination that makes it so vulnerable to environmental damage. Tourism infrastructure, support facilities for people, and potential oil spills from ships all contribute to the problems facing this fragile spot on the bottom of our planet when people start exploring.
Yet, it is this infrastructure which makes it possible for us to realize our dreams of visiting this remote and fascinating place. Without the facilities, how can we tour there? Its quite a delicate problem that requires a great deal of care in finding a good solution.
As you might have heard, in an effort to protect the delicate environment of Antarctica, the Obama administration is imposing mandatory limits on the size of cruise ships sailing there and the number of passengers theyre allowed to bring ashore. Of course, in the name of environmental sustainability, this is a move that we fully support at Friendly Planet Travel.
Because of the high level of interest from you, were exploring Antarctica as a new destination for 2010. But with the countrys future in mind, were researching how best to arrange the program so that we cause the least amount of harm while providing the best experience for our travelers.
We care deeply about the environment, and when finished, our program will definitely be one that provides a great experience for our travelers with the least amount of impact on the pristine land they visit.
Because while we want you to have the best experience as possible, we also want your grandchildren and their grandchildren (and so on and so on) to have the chance to experience the same. If we all do our part, we wont be the last generation to experience the splendor that is Antarctica.
Working in the travel business, I naturally get a lot of travel questions from people. And a question that comes up fairly often is when is a good time of day to schedule a flight to ensure on-time arrival and lower fares?
Flights that take off in the morning and originate at your departure airport are going to depart and arrive as timely as possible. As the day goes on, flights tend to back up, and you run the risk of arriving later.
Morning, however, is not the least expensive time to travel. Typically, if youre flying to places that are business destinations (New York City, Boston, L.A., etc.), the Monday through Friday early morning and early evening flights are going to be the most expensive.
The best way to get the very best fare is to call the airline and ask about the lowest rate between Point A and Point B, and what you have to do to get this price. If youre flexible, make sure you tell them so, and you should only offer up the approximate time you need to travel.
For example, "Im flexible. I want to go from Philadelphia to Miami sometime in March." The agent will tell you the best fare available, and if you call several airlines operating that service, youll soon discover what the best rates are and how to get them.
The same works for online booking sites. By clicking the "Im flexible" button, you can compare the various fares available at the cheapest times. If youre willing to do your homework, chances are youll be able to find a great deal no matter where youre headed.