How to Help Haiti
As many of you know, Hurricane Matthew hit the southwest region of Haiti this week, displacing more than 15,000 people, killing several hundred, and causing an immediate need for emergency help for around 350,000 people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and it is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake and the resulting humanitarian crisis, Hurricane Matthew is expected to trigger serious health challenges, including the rise of cholera in the coming days.
Partners in Health, a humanitarian nonprofit organization endorsed by major news outlets, supports 12 health centers in Haiti’s central region. At press time, the organization was working to get additional supplies to those centers, as well as to cholera-treatment centers.
“Though the storm has passed, experience tells us that the worst is yet to come,” said Dr. Charles-Patrick Almazor, Partners in Health’s chief medical officer in Haiti, in a statement on the organization’s website. “What would be the immediate need is to make sure that people get safe drinking water and safe water for washing.”
While Budget Travelers care deeply about every region affected by this devastating hurricane, including the Bahamas and the Florida coast, we especially wish to support the neediest victims. Click here to make a donation to Partners in Health's efforts in Haiti, where 94 percent of all donations go directly to those in need.
Pizza Party! Delta Buys Pies for Rerouted Passengers
Fact: Pizza makes everything better. Even flight delays. On Wednesday, passengers on Delta flight 802 from Atlanta to NYC's LaGuardia airport got a tasty surprise when their flight was rerouted due to bad weather: boxes upon boxes of pizza pies and bottled water waiting for them when they de-planed in Syracuse, New York. Watch the video, reported by the Weather Channel, here. This isn't the first time Delta Air Lines has bought pizza for its passengers. Back in May, the airline's crews placed orders when weather delayed more than 650 flights. Same with storms in Atlanta this past November—flight attendants passed out slices from the aisle. Delta's dough-licious behavior can be traced back several years. In 2013, station managers arranged for a cop car to pull up and deliver 60 pizzas to a plane stuck on the tarmac for hours in Boston. Not too long before that, 160 pizzas were delivered to a Delta plane delayed in Savannah. Back then, a Delta spokesman told USA TODAY, "Delta can't control the weather, but we can control how we respond to weather delays and irregular operations. In situations like these, Delta people have the decision-making power to take care of our customers — even having pizza delivered plane-side."
U.S. Will Resume Commercial Flights to Cuba
For the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. commercial flights to Cuba will soon become a reality. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed an agreement in Havana on Tuesday setting the stage for U.S. carriers to submit applications to operate commercial flights, with new routes likely in a matter of months. At present, the only flights between the U.S. and Cuba are charter flights, such as those operated by Cuba Travel Services partnering with JetBlue. Ready to visit Cuba? Well, it's not yet as simple as buying a plane ticket. Travel by U.S. tourists is still restricted, but the Treasury Department has expanded the categories under which Americans are allowed to visit the communist-ruled island, including exceptions for artists and journalists, those visiting family, and people-to-people education programs (we like package tours like those offered by Friendly Planet and Intrepid Travel). The resumption of commercial flights is another big step toward opening Cuba to American travelers. Last fall, we knew that commercial flights were on the horizon, and that played a role in our naming Cuba our No. 3 “Where to Go in 2016” destination. If you’re looking for some travel inspiration, check out our latest video, “A Gorgeous Day in the Life of Cuba,” above.
The Rockefeller Center Tree Arrived Today!
Budget Travel was on the scene as this year's Rockefeller Center holiday tree made an impressive arrival in NYC this morning! Actually, I happened to be at 30 Rock for Budget Travel's AMHQ segment, "Take Control of Weather-Related Travel Delays." But as a native New Yorker who grew up visiting Rockefeller Center as a little boy (my dad worked for NBC TV), it was a thrill to see the freshly cut behemoth up close like this. Turns out the tree and I had both commuted from the Hudson Valley this morning: The 10-ton, 78-foot Norway Spruce journeyed 80 miles in a flatbed truck from the Gardiner, NY, home of Albert Asendorf and Nancy Puchalski. Rockefeller Center has celebrated the holiday season every year since 1931 with a massive tree. The elaborate process of safely positioning and decorating the tree will culminate in a festive December 2 lighting ceremony. Check back with Budget Travel's This Just In blog throughout the holiday season for tips and updates about visiting NYC and other holiday hotspots!
Chile Will Protect the Ocean Surrounding Easter Island
We are thrilled that Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, announced yesterday at the Our Ocean conference that her nation will create a huge marine park around Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island. Pending approval by the island’s indigenous people, a 243,630-square-mile area in the Pacific would be off-limits for fishing. The British government is also planning a marine park, of 322,000 square miles, around the Pitcairn Islands, which are Easter Island’s closest neighbors. Protecting this vast area from illegal industrial fishing is a major ecological step forward for the world’s oceans. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, spoke for many of us when he blogged on Monday: “This wonderful action will protect treasures off the shores of this remote island, as well as the brilliant biodiversity that feeds the local Rapa Nui people, and helps them continue their centuries-old cultural traditions.” Easter Island is best known for its immense maoi, the iconic giant heads that were carved and transported by early settlers of the island. And we’re especially delighted by the timing of Chile’s announcement because we’re preparing a story about the island for the November/December “islands” issue of Budget Travel!