Guess Who Has The Most Intimidating Border Control Officials?

Border Control
Flickr, US Army

Do you ever feel nervous going through border control in a new country? How about when you return home? A study by IXP visas polled 1,000 travelers who had been to at least ten foreign countries; over 60% said they felt intimidated by border officials at some time, with the most intimidating vote going to American border control. The reasons sited for the nerves included “obvious weaponry on display,” a “lack of humor,” and a general “intimidating demeanor.”

The countries with the most intimidating border officials:

  1. USA: 22% (of respondents called border control officers intimidating)
  2. UAE: 12%
  3. Mexico: 9%
  4. Canada: 8%
  5. South Korea: 6%
  6. UK: 5%
  7. Israel: 5%
  8. Pakistan: 4%
  9. Venezuela: 4%
  10. Cuba: 3%

Have you felt intimidated entering (or re-entering) the U.S.? Which country has you most nervous at immigration?

How Long Does It Take To Paddleboard From Cuba To Florida?

Ben Friberg is a 35 year old musician from Chattanooga, Tennessee who recently became the first person to paddleboard from Cuba to Florida. According to a Reuters interview, Friberg’s almost entirely stand-up feat last week was an endeavor to “promote peace and understanding between Cuba and the United States and to promote a healthy lifestyle.” The journey between Cuba and Key West, Florida is 110 miles. Friberg completed the trip in 28 hours, sitting only for snacks. He was followed by a support boat that included a navigator as well as a medic.
Ben Friberg Tries to Paddleboard from Cuba to the United States

6 Destinations Made More Popular By Celebrities

Travel Channel and the Esquire Network are both set to air TV shows that ask celebrities to give local perspectives on their favorite destinations. While one can argue that Travel Channel is taking Esquire’s already developed idea and running with it, it’s undeniable that this fascination with celebrity travel is nothing new. In fact, celebrities have been popularizing places for years. Here’s a few examples of places where the stars have come out to play (and crowds of people soon followed).

George Clooney and Lake Como, Italy
George Clooney bought an 18th-century lakeside villa here in 2001, and it’s been a tourist hotspot ever since. According to the Daily Beast, the actor has an egg-throwing contraption that wards off paparazzi and other gawkers.Brigitte Bardot and Armação dos Búzios, Brazil
French sexpot Brigitte Bardot famously vacationed in Saint Tropez on the French Riviera, but she’s also credited with popularizing the resort town of Armação dos Búzios in Brazil during the 1960s. Townspeople are so happy with the tourism surge they erected a statue in the starlet’s honor.

Elvis Presley and Hawaii
It’s no secret Elvis loved Hawaii. From his first visit in the 1950s, it remained his favorite vacation destination. Elvis made three movies there, including the immensely popular “Blue Hawaii.” It’s also the setting of the first broadcast concert via satellite, “Aloha from Hawaii,” which Elvis starred in.

Sir Richard Branson and Necker Island, British Virgin Isles
Sure, he owns the island, but he also made it a popular vacation spot. Famous names like Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Oprah Winfrey, Harrison Ford and Pamela Anderson have all visited at one time or another. For those that can afford to go to Necker Island, it’s ultra-luxe accommodations and private submarine make it one of the ultimate destinations.

Britney Spears and Turtle Island, Fiji
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline famously vacationed to this private island after their marriage in 2005. It was also the honeymoon locale for Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. Both marriages ended in divorce, but the island still remains one of the most sought-after (and priciest) honeymoon destinations.

Jay-Z & Beyonce and Cuba
This is just a projection, but earlier this year Jay-Z and Beyonce visited Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. As travel restrictions become more loose, it’s likely more Americans will want to follow in their footsteps.

Learn Spanish With Lonely Planet’s Fluent Road

Learn Spanish Fluent Road
Courtesy of FluentRoad.com

Traveling to Spain or Latin America this summer and want to say more than “Donde esta el bano?” (though, that’s an important one to know)? Lonely Planet has just launched a new online foreign language program, Fluent Road, partnering with Spanish language program Fluenz. The focus is on Spanish for now, but you can choose from dialects from Argentina, “neutral” Latin America, Mexico, or Spain.

Fluent Road is designed for travelers to get the basics before a trip: Spanish for transportation, finding accommodation, ordering food, etc. It’s also a good stepping-stone to a more intensive learning program, and travelers could easily work up to a Fluenz course after completing Fluent Road. What differentiates this from other language learning like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur is a dissection of the language, showing you how Spanish works and providing explanations, not just rote immersion. Fluenz founder and avid traveler Sonia Gil guides you through obstacles, pronunciation, and practice speaking, writing and reading as a native speaker and “language geek.”

As with all online learning, you can go at your own pace; there are 30 video lessons that can be completed in one to six months. Other useful features include the ability to record yourself to compare pronunciation a native Speaker, and customizable digital flash cards to help practice. You can also contact the teacher and program designer via Twitter.

Take a free 12-hour trial now, subscriptions start from $9 for a month to $30 for six months of access, at www.fluentroad.com.

Travel To Cuba, Fame Not Required

travel to cubaWhile travel to Cuba has come a long way recently, not everyone can visit as easily as Beyonce and Jay-Z who chose Havana as the place to celebrate their anniversary. Still, even for super stars, travel to Cuba is not like buying a ticket from New York to Chicago and there are a few hoops to jump through. But a new program by a trusted source might just be the answer for travelers who want to visit Cuba.

People to People Ambassador Programs, the educational travel experience company that sent students to Japan after the earthquake/tsunami is back with a new twist on an old way of traveling to Cuba.

People to People is the company that partnered with actress Holly Robinson Peete to award five students with travel scholarships and helped college students complete degrees with international travel programs designed to do just that.

Applying their expertise of sending students around the world for global educational experiences, People to People acquired a travel operator license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for adult travel programs in Cuba starting in July 2013.

That travel operator license is required to satisfy requirements of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which is the major roadblock to unrestricted travel to Cuba. Exceptions to the ban are allowed by licenses issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department.

People to people will not be the first enterprise to do this. USA Cuba Travel specializes in travel to Cuba and arranged for over 100,000 Americans to get there last year.But People to People’s Citizen Ambassador Programs are designed not for college-age students, but for career professionals who want to get a first-hand look at Cuba for business reasons. Those “business reasons” open up an extremely wide field that many would-be travelers to Cuba can qualify for. Enrolled in medical, educational, business, law or sociology-related programs, delegates have an immersive cultural experience through the program that sounds a lot like an ecotourism trip.

Taking part in a walking tour of a village, going to a street party, interacting with locals or being part of a local community project are all bona fide activities and part of the curriculum. Being in the program, on the ground in Cuba, will also require sleeping and eating there, much like a trip to any other destination around the world.

Trips are seven nights in country with regularly schedule departures from Miami in July 2013 through December 2013. People to People programs typically cost from $4,500-7,999, depending on length, destination and itinerary but are all-inclusive. Transportation, meals, accommodations and activities are part of the deal. Good news, the price range for Cuba programs currently run $4,699-$4,999.

Not part of the deal? Cuban cigars – so here is a little video about how they are made: