Lonely Planet Releases Top 10 Cities for Travelers

Lonely Planet recently released its Best in Travel 2014, which includes a list of the top 10 cities for traveling. These cities are spread across the globe and include classics as well as cities that are just coming into their own as traveler destinations. The Lonely Planet list includes some obvious choices like Paris, Cape Town, Zurich, Shanghai, Vancouver, Chicago, and Auckland but it also includes less obvious choices like Trinidad, Cuba, Adelaide, Australia, and Riga, Latvia. Check it out here and then let us know, which cities would you add to the 2014 list?Lonely Planet Downsizes

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

Asylum Sailing To Australia Takes Deadly Turn

australia
John Yavuz Can/ Flickr

In North America, we occasionally hear stories of cruise ships spotting and assisting a raft-full of Cuban refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Australia has a similar situation with refugees from Indonesia. Now, the dead and missing numbers are not looking good for these asylum seekers, missing after their boat capsized near a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It highlights just how dangerous life at sea can be.

A full-scale hunt using 15 ships and 10 aircraft is under way in a giant search and rescue mission. That’s because 55 men, women and children were on deck when the vessel was first spotted via aerial surveillance. Taking the next logical step, a navy vessel was sent to intercept. Arriving on the scene, the asylum ship was gone. The following day, aerial searches caught the ship’s submerged hull.

Survivors, on the other hand, have options.The U.S. wet foot/dry foot entry test is a simple “did ya or didn’t ya get here on your own?” thing. If they did, they stay. If not, they go back rather quickly. The Indonesian version is a bit different.

The trek from Indonesia to Australia is a much more dangerous, 500-mile ocean voyage. Cuba to the U.S. is just over 100 and a good raft will get you there. In the past, when refugees got picked up by ships in Australian waters, they might have been offered the “Pacific Solution.” Under that policy, the asylum seekers were taken to the nearby Republic of Nauru where their refugee status was considered, rather than in Australia where it is not.

The current Australian government’s policy is mandatory detention for asylum seekers until their status is determined, a process that can take up to two years or more. In this case, it appears that few of the refugees will get that opportunity.

“We are humans and the human dimensions of the circumstances are very difficult to deal with,” Border protection commander Rear Admiral David Johnston said in a New Zealand Herald article.

This video gives us a nutshell version of the issue involving asylum seekers and refugees and their impact in Australia.

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: