For over four decades, travel between the United States and Cuba has been restricted, if not outright banned for most citizens. While a number of workarounds exist to allow Americans to travel to the island, none have been endorsed or sponsored by the state. The United States’ current policy is one that appears to be lifted straight from a Cold War safety briefing, but it could soon disappear.
The Obama administration has announced its intentions to limit restrictions on travel to Cuba, one of several moves aimed at freeing up the country’s current foreign policy towards the island. Cuba remains a popular travel destination for those outside of the United States, although its communist government and previously aggressive stance towards the USA make it a politically tough topic.
The current ban on Cuba travel has its roots in the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to the island’s close ties with Russia, it was once used as a testing and storage ground for nuclear weapons, short-range missiles, and other projectile threats to the United States. A number of restrictive trade and travel policies extend from the crisis, which is remembered as a close encounter with nuclear war.
New policy changes are likely to reflect those implemented under President Clinton, who eased a series of restrictions against the island. Due to security concerns, many of the policies voted on in the Clinton government were reversed under President Bush. Restrictions on travel for those with families in Cuba have already been loosened under Obama, with visits now possible for some.
Cuba remains a point of heated debate in American foreign policy, with many of those supporting the Obama administration also hesitant to support a bill allowing Cuban travel. Political analysts believe that the policies are unlikely to be implemented until after the upcoming midterm election.
With airfares at an all-time low and inexpensive travel the preferred option for most Britons, a large portion of the country’s frequent travellers are jumping the pond for a holiday in the northeast USA. While New York City tends to receive the region’s major share of visitors, there’s certainly reason to skip the city and head north – the historically significant New England region is just a few miles up.
New England is frequently skipped over by Britons visiting the United States, despite its historical importance for both nations. The region consists of the six states northeast of New York, hosting the nation’s important regional centres and a bevy of interesting historical areas. From Boston to Maine, there are few locations within New England that aren’t steeped in history.
But what’s the best way to see the quaint, picturesque countryside? Flights within the region tend to be conveniently priced and even more conveniently scheduled, making use of low-cost airfields and the area’s high population density. With two of the country’s biggest cities on its borders, flying into and out of New England’s major cities is an effortless and fairly inexpensive endeavour.
However, given the region’s proximity to international flight hub New York City, is there any real reason to avoid the country’s advanced highway system? The real appeal of New England rests in its quaint towns and tradition – things that simply aren’t experienced from the window of a plane. Hire a car in New York City and return it in Boston, enjoying the region’s quiet towns along the way.
Given the region’s population density, train is also a viable option. A variety of Amtrak services are available from New York, giving those who arrived by plane a simple option for cheaply leaving the city. Whichever your flavour, New England is an interesting travel destination and an increasingly appealing alternative to Europe’s standard list of cultural and historical destinations.