Legal Travel to Cuba for Americans and Why NOW is the Time to Go!

Cuba is slowly opening up to Americans. Contrary to popular belief, Americans can go to Cuba and do so legally. I’ve asked fellow blogger and Cheesehead Heidi Siefkas to give an overview for how Americans can travel to Cuba and why they may want to consider doing so now. Take it away Heidi…..


When I told my friends and family that I travel to Cuba, I receive many questions, all with puzzled looks. Many ask if it is legal. Others ask if it is safe. Others wonder why travel to Cuba at all. Having five trips under my belt this year alone as a tour director and four more trips this fall, I have fallen in love with Cuba, its people, and cultural richness. Although Cuba is not on the traditional traveler’s radar, I would like to share with you how you too can travel to Cuba. So here’s the skinny on legal travel to Cuba, how it’s done, and why you should travel to Cuba and NOW.
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2013: A Year in Photography

2013 was an epic year for me in terms of travel. I took 84 flights and set foot in 44 different countries and territories on 5 different continents. I visited 73 new world heritage sites and probably another 20 which I had visited previously. I didn’t even count the number of miles I traveled by car, train and boat.

Photographically, it was also my best year ever. I won the Gold Medal in the North American Travel Journalism Association for my photo essay of the Canary Islands. I won a Northern Lights Award and a Lowell Thomas Award for my photo essay of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

The biggest news of the year was being named Photographer of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers.

I’ve assembled some of my favorite photos taken from 2013. They represent a cross section of all the places I’ve been. I’ve been to so many places this year and took so many photos I easily could have doubled the size of this without hurting the quality.

I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!

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January 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

January 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

1920×1200 | 1920×1080 | 1600×1200 | 1680×1050 | 1600×900
1440×900 | 1280×1024 | 1280×800 | 1024×768

iPad | iPhone 4 | iPhone 5
2560×1600 (MacBook Retina 13″) | 2880×1800 (MacBook Retina 15″)

Photo Essay: The Southern Coast of Labrador

The Southern Coast of Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is politically one region, but in reality is two distinct places. 95% of the visitors to the province only visit the island of Newfoundland. Most people never bother to take the 15km trek across the Strait of Belle Isle to visit the other half of the province. Earlier in 2013 I had the pleasure of visiting the southern coast of Labrador, which is perhaps the most accessible part of Labrador. The purpose of my trip was to visit Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, but I discovered much more.

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Gary’s Global Hangout #1 – Elisa Detrez

As 2013 comes to a close, I’m introducing a new feature: Gary’s Global Hangout. I will be using Google+ Hangouts to talk with interesting people from all around the world. The format will be an extremely informal interview style lasting around 30-60 minutes.

My first guest is Elisa Detrez, who won the recent Best Job in the World contest with Queensland Tourism. She’s been working as a park ranger in Queensland, Australia since last August, visiting and working in various parts of the state. We talk about her experience winning the Best Job in the World and about visiting Queensland.

If you want to be sure to catch all the episodes of Gary’s Global Hangout when they are released, just follow me on Google+ or on YouTube.

My 2013 Travels in Airport Codes

This year I landed on the world’s shortest commercial runway on the island of Saba

During 2013 I’ve kept track of every flight I’ve taken, including connections and layovers. As all my flights for the rest of the month are already booked, I am able to publish a complete list of every flight of 2013.

Believe it or not, I didn’t qualify for elite status on any airline this year! Many of my flighst in the summer were on LIAT which doesn’t have a frequent flyer program. My flights to Africa on South African Airlines were only given 1/2 credit by United. I will end up 13 miles short of elite status on United. My next Star Alliance flight is on January 1, 2014 out of Sydney!

My other flights were scattered amongst other airlines. This is one of the reasons I am giving up on chasing elite status. The benefits just aren’t worth it anymore.

Where you see a | symbol, I transferred between airports by ground or water.

Total flights: 84
Unique Airports: 72
Shortest Flight: 12 minutes (St. Martin to Saba)
Longest Flight: 15 hours, 50 minutes (Vancouver to Sydney)
Lost Bags: 3 (Virgin Gorda to St. Martin, Boston to Dublin, Vancouver to Sydney)
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This Week in Travel – Episode 157

This week’s guest is Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad.

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Announcing My 3rd Annual Travel Photography Tour To…. SOUTH AFRICA!

2014 Travel Photography TourI’m happy to announce my 3rd annual travel photography tour with G Adventures. The 2014 edition of the tour will be going to South Africa!

In 2012 we did a tour of the American Southwest where we photographed some of the great national parks like Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion and the Grand Canyon. In 2013 I lead a group to Italy where we shot in Venice, Rome, Cinque Terra and the Amalfi Coast.

Next year I’ll be going with photographers to explore the nation of South Africa. I’ve been wanting to do a photography tour where we could photograph wildlife. The previous two tours had lots of great landscapes and cultural sites, but little in the way of animals. Kruger National Park should provide this in spades. In addition to trying to photograph the Big Five, we’ll be capturing the sights of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Here are the basic details you need to know:

  • Dates: May 12-20, 2014
  • Staring Point: Cape Town
  • Ending Point: Johannesburg
  • Cost: US$1899.00
  • Meals Provided: 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners
  • Lodging: Hotels (4 nights), Sleeper Train (1 night), Lodges (3 nights)

In addition, you’ll be getting personal instruction from myself during the trip and online assistance BEFORE the trip.

We expect this trip to be sold out again, and seats are sold on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any questions about the tour, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email.


REGISTER NOW!

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December 2013 Desktop Wallpaper

December 2013 Desktop Wallpaper

1920×1200 | 1920×1080 | 1600×1200 | 1600×900
1440×900 | 1280×1024 | 1280×800 | 1024×768

iPad | iPhone 4 | iPhone 5
2560×1600 (MacBook Retina 13″) | 2880×1800 (MacBook Retina 15″)

December in Australia

December 2013 Australia RouteI’m happy to report that I’ll be spending most of the month of December in Australia!

Starting in early December I’ll be embarking on a 3-week long tour of Australia with G Adventures. This will tour be the 5th continent I will have traveled to with G Adventures and my longest trip with them to date.

I’ve been to Australia six times now, but my first and biggest trip to Australia was back in 2008 when I spent almost 5 months in the country and visited every state and capital city. I drove from Melbourne to Cairns and from Darwin to Perth. I even took a bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs.

I’m often asked if I revisit places I’ve been before, and the answer is a resounding YES! Most of the stops on this trip are places I visited in 2008, but it was under different circumstances. My photos from 2008 were OK, but I have a much better idea of what I’m doing now. Also, after years of daily photos, I’ve pretty much run out of decent photos of Australia to post on my site. So if nothing else, I’ll be able to restock my portfolio with Australia images.
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