United States Posts

Which country does the most good for the world?

I love TED Talks, talks no longer than 18 minutes in which the speaker shares ideas, designs and concepts that will help make our world better, encourage us to think and to work together, and to inspire. TED originally stood for Technology, Education, and Design. Today it stands for bite-sized nuggets of gold, of out-of-the-box thoughts, or simple common sense explained in an uncommon way.

So, putting aside national pride, do you know which country does the most good for the world? The answer may surprise you. Also, I encourage you to visit www.goodcountry.org to learn more about the project. Enjoy the TED Talk.

No Tacky Travelers – ever, ever, ever!

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Growing up I heard about the “ugly American” traveler. I not only heard about them, I saw them, and, unfortunately have traveled with a few of these folks. They are easy to spot — the one with multiple cameras around his neck, wearing bright colored plaid shorts, and blocking the entrance to the historic site you want to see so he can take one more picture. Oh, and she’s miffed, too, because she was refused entrance into the cathedral, mosque, or temple because she was wearing a tube top and shorts. They’re the people speaking very loudly and slowly in English because they’re quite sure the locals will then suddenly know how to reply in the visitor’s native language. Geez!

Most of us are great brand ambassadors for the USA and then there are those few beacons of poor judgment that make me want to groan and hide….like the bare-chested, pot-bellied young men chugging beers I encountered touring Ephesus and cheering as if at a football game. OY!


Thanks to books, videos and this newfangled thing called the Internet, we can learn how to behave in public anywhere in the world. Who knew?

Become a more savvy vacationer and know before you go the customs of the country you’re visiting and consider offering tips for service well-provided. One of the most common things US travelers forget when traveling outside the United States is the habit of tipping. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Saying thank you financially is a worldwide phenomenon. One last time, all together now, “WHO KNEW?”

Below is a chart by country that gives you these need-to-know pearls of wisdom.  Remember, we are the visitors in someone else’s country. Let’s show some respect, please.

If you ask, ‘Why Charleston?’ – you haven’t been there!

10157104_10102158825223900_1725494662_n words by Damien Martin  :::  Damien@greatgetaways.travel ::: pictures by Meredith Martin

As the sun crawled rosy-fingered back under the banks of the Ashley River, I thanked the bride for having us make the trek. I imagine every guest at some point before the wedding said, “Why Charleston?” But the bride and groom had fallen in love with the city, and over the course of the weekend, we all came to find out why.

The wedding itself was quintessentially Southern — right down to the mint juleps and spiked lemonade on the veranda at Lowndes Grove Plantation. Reeds in the river swayed in the breeze as Jacob and Megan affirmed their commitment on the brilliant manicured lawn. The weather was simply perfect, as was an evening surrounded by old friends. The shrimp and grits weren’t bad, either. We sent the happy couple off in a flurry of sparklers.

The first thing you notice about Charleston — especially if you didn’t take out insurance on your rental car — is how narrow the streets are. The city was founded in 1670 and is packed with colonial charm, if a bit small for its modern inhabitants. The scenery is as wide-ranging as the city’s history. Fort Sumter, site of the Civil War’s first battle, lies in the harbor, while the trees lining downtown make it clear you’re in the Palmetto State. Outside the city center, barrier islands are home to miles of tawny sand firm enough to ride your bike down, and world-class golf courses.

The rehearsal dinner took place downtown at McCrady’s, where on May 4, 1791, the Charleston Branch of the Society of the Cincinnati, founded by Revolutionary War officers, hosted a dinner for President George Washington. While the guests on this night might not have been as important, the hosts sure made us feel like it.

Meredith and I stayed at Wild Dunes, far from the airport and about a half-hour from downtown, so we didn’t get to see the gorgeous Isle of Palms until the next morning. It was worth the wait. Leisure sales manager Jamie Link was kind enough to show us around and treat us to a classic low-country breakfast.

We checked out the resort’s 17 clay tennis courts and wildlife — no gator sightings on this day, but the groom’s golf delegation spotted one the day before — before admiring the pastel-colored oceanfront homes from our relaxing perch on the beach.

It was a weekend to remember. We reconnected with old friends, helped two of them start their life together and were charmed by one of America’s most versatile cities. One thing’s for certain, I’ll never again ask, “Why Charleston?”


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Meet our friend and Virtuoso CEO, Matthew Upchurch!

You have an asset the can never be replaced—your discretionary time. How you use those precious moments is up to you and we all want to use them wisely. So, vacation time approaches. How can you insure you’re maximizing your valuable time and money when planning this trip? I suggest you collaborate with us, of course! Rather than read my thoughts, watch this video interview with our dear friend and Chairman of the Board and CEO of Virtuoso, Matthew Upchurch. As you know, we’ve been proud members of Virtuoso since 1996 and the benefits of our membership are yours-such as an automatic upgrade at a hotel, a customized shore excursion, or having friends of Great Getaways all over the world.
So, enough from me. Let Matthew share our vision:




Land Rover, the British brand synonymous with adventure, has revealed a long-term global partnership with Richard Branson’s pioneering commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic.

Demonstrating their shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure, the ground breaking partnership was announced against the backdrop of SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial passenger carrying spacecraft, together with Land Rover’s new Discovery Vision Concept vehicle. The announcement illustrates the commitment that both brands share to iconic design and engineering excellence and a desire to push the boundaries of travel for the next generation.

The partnership will see Land Rover vehicles become part of daily life for the Virgin Galactic team and for all ‘Future Astronauts’, the space experience will now begin with Land Rover as
they arrive in New Mexico for training, and continue to the moment they drive from the space terminal building to the waiting spaceship. Land Rover will base a fleet of vehicles at the
Virgin Galactic test centre in the Mojave Desert, California and at its astounding operational New Mexico base, Spaceport America.

The exciting announcement was revealed in dramatic fashion on board USS Intrepid, a former aircraft carrier and now a museum dedicated to the exploration of sea, air and space and anchored on the Hudson River. Land Rover’s first act as exclusive partner was to bring a unique full-size replica of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise to New York, where it joined the remarkable British Airways Concorde and its namesake Space Shuttle Enterprise upon the Intrepid. Like the Space Shuttle, SpaceShipTwo is the first of a revolutionary fleet of reusable human spacecraft. Having the vehicles in one place for the first time provided a powerful symbol of human ingenuity and the adventurous spirit of exploration and discovery.

Revealed alongside SpaceShipTwo was Land Rover’s Discovery Vision Concept, a vision of Land Rover’s future family of Discovery vehicles. The concept car previews dynamic new design language and an array of world first technologies. Building on Land Rover’s renowned all-terrain capability, the Discovery Vision Concept represents the ultimate SUV of
the future.

The vehicle uses augmented reality technology to display a ‘see-through’ view of the terrain ahead, making the front of the car ‘virtually’ invisible from inside the cabin. Gesture Control
allows you to open the doors, operate the indicators or turn on the headlamps simply by moving your hand, while Laser Referencing projects visible markings, symbols and imagery onto the ground to aid low speed or tricky manoeuvres.

More than 200 VIP guests witnessed the two game-changing vehicles, which were revealed against a stunning Manhattan background and an awe-inspiring projection mapping sequence.

Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic said “We couldn’t be more delighted to have Land Rover join us on our incredible journey. It is hard to think of a brand which is more
synonymous with exploration and adventure. The safety and engineering excellence of Land Rover’s vehicles, which have been the stuff of legend for more than 65 years, are attributes
which also lie at the heart of Virgin Galactic. We look forward to crossing the final frontier together and to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Phil Popham, Group Marketing Director of Jaguar Land Rover said “This is a marriage of two of Britain’s most iconic brands which celebrate shared values, a pioneering spirit and a true sense of adventure. Not only do we both share the same long-term vision to enable mankind to explore, but we also want to develop this partnership to inspire others. From our tens of thousands of employees and customers to schools and colleges, motivating more young people to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology and math – and explore new ways of travelling for future generations.
and Rover’s heart beats ‘above and beyond’ – we are pioneers on land and Virgin Galactic is the pioneer of space. It’s a very special match of brands with a shared vision.”

Both brands run significant and highly regarded community relations and STEM education programmes, which encourage young people to aspire to a future in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics and together see the huge potential to develop this partnership to inspire others and motivate more young people to pursue careers in these vitally important fields.

Courtesy of Land Rover, SpaceShipTwo, will remain on display at Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum for the public to view between from 15th to the 22nd April. It will sit alongside
other game changing artefacts including the first ever space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle programme and the record-breaking
and revolutionary supersonic passenger airliner, the Concorde.

The Discovery Vision Concept will be on display at the New York Auto Show, which opens on Wednesday 16th April.

Here’s a short and entertaining video about the partnership: