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Posts Tagged ‘Press coverage’

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Myanmar through the eyes of a Friendly Planet traveler

EXPERIENCE MYANMAR: A trip to Myanmar opens eyes and changes perceptions

A trip to Myanmar, also known as Burma, introduces visitors to an ancient culture barely touched by modern life, where spirituality, gentle people, and unmatched tropical beauty abound. Opened to tourists just a few years ago after a series of dramatic government changes, those who have been fortunate enough to visit have fallen in love with this exotic country, and count themselves blessed to have seen it before modernity changes it forever.

Traveler Ann Young recently visited Myanmar on a Friendly Planet Travel tour and recounted her experience in an article on JournalStandard.com. Ann marveled at the country’s spectacular Buddhist temples, watched the sunset on the world’s longest teak bridge, and most notably, took part in helping feed 250 rural schoolchildren a lunch of chicken, mango salad, hard boiled eggs, and corn soup with rice.

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Why you have to see these faces of Cuba

Among the greatest joys of visiting a new place is the opportunity to get to know the locals. And after 30-plus years of traveling the world, one constant that I’ve found everywhere is that despite how different we look, live, work and play, people are essentially the same everywhere.

I shared a bit about the people of Cuba through the talented lens of award-winning photographer Jeremy Woodhouse in my latest contribution to The Huffington Post. Jeremy has given us special permission to share some of the faces of Cuba he captured on a recent trip with us, and these photos are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to click over to see them in full.

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.

Are you an Olympic junkie? You can still see the games in person!

GAME ON: You can still catch a flight to the Olympics!

The Olympic Games are currently in the forefront of people’s minds across the globe, including the team here at Friendly Planet. If you’ve always wanted to see the Olympics in person, it’s not too late to make the trip to London! In my latest contribution to Huffington Post, I noted that there are still flights and hotels available for travelers dying to see the Olympic Games, and at good prices too if you can believe it.

I also recently gave some tips to help maneuver airline mayhem en route to London, though they’re really applicable for any trip.

To read more on why the time is now to travel to the summer Olympic games, check out my post.

Any last-minute travelers out there planning a trip to the Olympics? Tell us your story below!

The best place to visit with your tax refund? Cuba!

With the deadline for tax filing just around the corner, a majority of Americans have already submitted their paperwork and are awaiting their refund check. If you are one of these people, then you’re probably already thinking about how to spend this year’s refund. What would I recommend you do with it? Travel, of course!

The choices of destinations are endless, so it might seem difficult to narrow them down. Luckily, ABC News compiled the “5 Places to Spend Your 2012 Tax Refund” which offers some guidance.

One of the five choices listed is our Colors of Cuba tour. I couldn’t agree more that now is the time to explore Cuba‘s beauty and vibrancy, as it’s the first time travelers have been able to visit in over 50 years.

It’s definitely worth the trip!

COLORS OF CUBA: Now’s the time to make your visit!  
Thanks for including us in your story, ABC News!

Dubai: The desert destination dripping with decadence

When it comes to picking a destination, most travelers craving luxury don’t consider a city in the middle of the desert as their first choice — but they should!

That’s because Dubai, a city located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the most opulent destinations in the world.

Dubai has it all — shopping, dining, and some of the world’s most breathtaking sights. This includes The World, a man-made archipelago of 300 islands constructed in the shape of the land masses of Earth, and Burj Al Arab, where you’ll find the world’s most expensive hotel room.

When JustLuxe asked me to write about the things that make Dubai a place that no self-respecting traveler with a developed wanderlust should miss, I was happy to oblige. A true mirage in the desert, the city is dotted with lush, green golf courses; fabulous restaurants and hotels; and high-end stores packed with designer wares, top-end electronics, and VIP treatment available around every corner. 
I talk about all these things and much more in my full article, “Dubai: The Ultimate VIP Experience.” If you’ve never been to Dubai, I hope my stamp of approval will convince you to give it a try. Thanks JustLuxe for running the piece!

How to avoid Debbie Downer as a travel companion

Who and how many people you travel with can make or break a vacation. And after organizing exotic group tours for 30 years, I know exactly the mix of people you want to have on a trip to make your vacation an extraordinary one.

Find out what that mix is made of in the Frommer’s article, “How to Plan a Girlfriend Getaway.” The five things writer Lisa Cheng tells you to consider when picking the right mix of travel companions doesn’t just apply to girlfriends either. If you’re traveling with family or male companions, her advice still rings true.

Hop over to give it a read. Thanks again Lisa for including me in your piece!

Vietnam: The last place on Earth you’d ever associate with luxury

When you think of Vietnam, you probably remember the war overseas and civil unrest in the United States. But the truth is, the war ended in 1975 and the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam has been mended. More recently, Vietnam has become one of the most exotic destinations on Earth to experience.

That’s why JustLuxe asked me to cover it. JustLuxe is an online magazine that focuses only on the most luxurious things in life, especially those unexpected luxuries that they can reveal to their readers. And Vietnam is, for obvious reasons, the perfect fit. Its beauty and simplicity of life, juxtaposed against its emerging economy, makes it one of my favorite countries to visit.

During my last trip to the country, I got to enjoy a luxurious overnight cruise aboard the Emeraude on Halong Bay. In my guest article, “Sail the Halong Bay and Explore Vietnam on the Emeraude,” I share every detail about my stay aboard the ship. Read what my experience was like, and if you have questions about Vietnam, leave them in a comment on this post.

Thanks again JustLuxe for featuring my article!

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.

Should you carry cash, credit, or a traveler’s check when traveling?

A lot of us are accustomed to paying for most things with our credit or debit cards. It’s easy and convenient. But when you’re traveling, using a credit card might not always be the best option. So before you leave the U.S., be sure to determine whether you should be carrying cash, credit, or a traveler’s check.

A good starting point is this CreditCards.com article. It gives you best practices to find out which countries you should carry cash in, the safest way to do it, and more. Susan Ladika also featured some of my advice on this topic in her piece, so click over and read it.

But there’s more advice where that came from and I’m posting it here.

In today’s world, it’s hardly ever worth it to carry traveler’s checks. You can find ATM machines in many destinations, even those considered off the beaten track where you can get cash, in local currency, using your own credit or debit card.

Typically, the exchange rates charged by your credit card company or bank will be better than those charged by local banks, and the convenience goes without saying. You get money as you need it, without having to carry around lots of bills, and without having to pay commissions and fees to cash the traveler’s checks.

If you simply can’t imagine taking a trip abroad without traveler’s checks, by all means get the ones that are free. If you belong to AAA, or your bank offers free traveler’s checks to their depositors, get them.

But make sure you get them in small denominations because you pay fees based on the amount you’re changing. If you’re like me, you’ll bring them home with you again to redeposit into your own checking account. That is, of course, if you have anything left!

When I travel abroad, I usually bring about $300 in cash so I can quickly convert some dollars to local currency upon arrival. That gives me time to find out where the ATM machines are located, without having to stress about not having money in local currency.

I also carry enough $1 bills to take care of incidental tipping, too. Having $20 to $30 in single dollars buys me time to figure out what a good tip should be in local currency (and I can assure you that tips paid in dollars won’t be refused).

I use the hotel in-room safe to store extra cash, so I don’t need to walk around carrying a bundle of bills in my purse. I also take two different credit cards with ATM capabilities, but I only carry one at a time. I leave the second card tucked away in the room safe. If I ever lose my purse or if it gets stolen, I have another card on hand.

And remember, before you even depart the U.S., it’s a good idea to call your card companies and bank to let them know when and where you’re going. The last thing you want is to have your bank account frozen while you’re abroad.

In today’s security-conscious world, where identity and card theft is rampant, cards are often declined because the charge doesn’t fit a normal profile. If your credit card profile is annotated with your travel details, you’ll never face this embarrassing inconvenience.

Write to me or leave a comment on this post if you have any other questions about what form of money to bring abroad.

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