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Thursday, February 27, 2020

How to Travel During the Coronavirus Outbreak

We’ve had a lot of clients concerned about the rising number of people affected with the Coronavirus this week, especially in Italy. Here’s what we learned:

The tour operators we work with around the world are exceptional. We had one couple arrive in Rome yesterday and were worried about traveling north to Florence to visit their granddaughter. We changed the lodging from Florence to Rome at a slight additional cost. From Rome, the couple are headed to Sicily, where so far, there has been only one reported case. So we can be flexible with the itinerary, depending on the location. 
 
Airplanes will offer travel waivers if you wait long enough, instead of having to pay a change fee. This has already happened in Hong Kong, Seoul, and hopefully in Milan soon. Just this morning, JetBlue reported waiving the change fee on all flights booked for the next 4 months. But realize that JetBlue is primarily a domestic and Caribbean carrier, which hasn't been hit hard by the virus yet. 
 
Travel insurance does not cover Coronavirus unless you opt for the prohibitively expensive Cancel for Any Reason policy, which is often half the amount of the trip. Even after paying this exorbitant amount, they will only reimburse up to 75% of the trip, and in some states like New York, this policy can’t even be issued. We’re still firm believers in acquiring travel insurance to cover other aspects of your vacation, but we’re not big fans of the Cancel for Any Reason policy. Far more important is the cancellation policy offered by the tour operators, cruise lines, and outfitters we work with around the globe. They all have cut-off dates that you can cancel without penalty. 
 
Book refundable lodging. If you have to cancel, you’re not penalized. This goes out to all you AirBnB lovers, which is often nonrefundable. 
 
Don’t get caught up in the mass hysteria. Media is making this out to be the plague, but is it? Look at the numbers and it seems like the Coronavirus is less dangerous than the flu. That said, those who are elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions are the ones succumbing to the virus, so take extra special caution if you fit into that category. If you don’t fall into that category, this will be a good time to travel. You’ll have the rare opportunity to see Italy without the massive crowds. Not to mention you’re supporting a country that relies heavily on the tourism dollar and they’ll be incredibly grateful that you arrived on their shores. It reminds me of the time I went to Nairobi within a month of the mall bombing. Everyone was telling me not to go, only to have the Masai Mara and those lions and leopards to myself. One of my most memorable trips! 
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/27/20 at 05:59 AM
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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial Aboard a Historic Maine Windjammer

Maine will celebrate its 200th birthday in 2020 and there’s no better place to enjoy the festivities than on the mid-Maine coast in Rockland on July 3rd for the Great Schooner Race. Now’s the time to book one of the 20 schooners that are set to participate this year. They’ll be joined by additional historic vessels from throughout the region, along with members of Tall Ships America. Spectators can stand on the Rockland Breakwater with its impressive lighthouse at the end and watch dozens of windjammers enter Rockland harbor under full sail. But even more exciting is to be one of the lucky few aboard a windjammer. I’ve had the privilege of going on three memorable windjammer sails with both my dad and my daughter and I can say without hesitation that it’s the best way to savor Maine’s picturesque coast. Prices for Race Week start at $1000 per person, including all meals, accommodations, activities and participation in the Great Schooner Race during your week-long (or shorter) cruise.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/26/20 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Leap Day Deals

With Leap Day about to approach, hotels are coming up with fun deals. At Burlington’s Hotel Vermont, leap year babies can book a one-night stay on leap day for only $129. In addition, enjoy a complimentary dinner at Juniper with sparkling wine and cake. Leap Year babies can also celebrate with a FREE vacation at the new Kixby hotel in Manhattan. On February 29, anyone born on Leap Day can enjoy one free night at Kixby. From now through the end of February 2021, guests who stay two nights at The James New York - NoMad will enjoy the third night FREE. Or book a multiple-night stay at one of the participating Meritage Collection hotels by March 31, 2020 and you’ll get a 3rd, 4th, or 5th night free. The Collection includes several of our favorite properties like Koa Kea in Kauai and The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa. Please contact ActiveTravels and we’ll be happy to make the booking for you! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/25/20 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, February 24, 2020

Bike and Barge on the Moselle River with Discovery Bicycle Tours

Lisa and I spent time at the Boston Travel Show talking to Scott and Thistle Cone, owners of Discovery Bicycle Tours. My brother, Jim, and I biked with them in central Vermont when the outfitter was known as Bike Vermont. Still based in Woodstock, Vermont, but under new ownership, the company has expanded to Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia at a price point less than Backroads, more comparable with VBT. Groups are small, on average between 8 to 15 guests. We like their 8-day bike and barge tour on the Moselle River in July, where you bike 16 to 35 miles a day on relatively easy terrain, then return to your river cruise to relax and dine. Best part is that you don’t have to pack and unpack every day. Cost is $3695 per person, all-inclusive.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/24/20 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 21, 2020

Get Your REAL ID Now to Avoid Long Lines Later

Just a friendly reminder to please remember to get your REAL ID as soon as you can. Americans will not be able to fly without a passport or REAL ID after 10/1/20, even on domestic flights. Lines will get longer and longer to acquire the REAL ID as we get closer to that 10/1 date. AAA members can head to their local office instead of heading to the RMV. Please remember to bring along the proper documents as you’ll see in this list

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/21/20 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Want to see the Northern Lights in the Yukon this September?

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 
 
Canada is the third largest country by landmass in the world, containing 10 provinces and 3 territories. Now living in Toronto, I am determined to explore as much as I can. Part of my journey will take me to the Yukon in September, the northernmost and westernmost point in Canada (bordering Alaska). Care to join me?
 
The Yukon is one of the least densely populated regions in the continent. It’s a wild area, full of mountains, valleys, lakes, glaciers, deserts, and forests…everything you could want to explore in nature (as well as being known for the Klondike gold fever in the 19th century). Less than 10 minutes away from the capital of Whitehorse, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can be seen perfectly. I've been told that September would be a fantastic time to see the Northern Lights, the fall colors, and it’s not too cold!
 
Here’s my plan. 
Sep 7 - Arrive in Whitehorse. Aurora hunting at night.
Sep 8  - Visit the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, also Emerald Lake and Carcross Desert; do some hiking. Aurora hunting at night. 
Sep 9 - Visit Kluane National Park, do some hiking. 
Sep 10 - Visit the Yukon Wildlife Preserve & Takhini Hot Springs. Aurora hunting at night.
Sep 11 - Morning hiking around Whitehorse. Departure in the afternoon.
4 nights at Coast High Country Inn, Whitehorse. 
 
Guided touring and ground transportation will be with Tobias Barth, the owner of EPIC North. Tobias moved from Germany to the Yukon five years ago. He says, “being here is such a treat, I’m happy every day, it’s paradise here, we have this awesome nature/untouched wilderness all around us.” He's also an aviation photographer who specializes in glider air-to-air pictures.
 
Total cost per person in a double room will be (at most) $1630 USD, $2160 CAD (plus 5% tax). Single rooms are available at higher cost. The more people who say “yes,” the lower the price. Deposit of 25%, final payment 30 days prior. The best way to get to Whitehorse is through Vancouver, serviced by AirCanada. WestJet also has some flights, and AirNorth. 
 
Please let me know if you are interested: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/20/20 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

See the Northern Lights in Iceland this Winter

Iceland has become increasingly popular in winter as more and more travelers try to check the Northern Lights off their wish list. While it’s certainly not a guarantee, you have a good bet to see the Aurora Borealis in the clear Iceland night sky. And you can’t beat the flight, 5 hours direct from the East Coast. We work with a wonderful tour operator in Iceland who will set up outdoor winter activities like hiking the glaciers, while arranging the best chance to see the Northern Lights. If interested, please let ActiveTravels know and we’ll start arranging. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/19/20 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Backroads Launches Chile Multi-Adventure Trip During December Solar Eclipse

Head to Chile on December 14, 2020, and you’ll get to witness a total solar eclipse. Backroads is taking advantage of this opportunity to offer a special Chile Multi-Adventure trip. The 6-night itinerary takes place in the Chilean Lakes District, where you’ll get the chance to hike, bike, kayak and raft with stunning vistas of Villarrica, Mocho and Osorno Volcanoes. You’ll also venture into the remote sanctuaries of Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve and Parque Futangu, teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Backroads is also debuting an 8-night Chile Patagonia and Fjords Cruise Walking and Hiking Tour. Slated to visit the Chilean Patagonia Fjords and Torres del Paine National Park, the trip offers unique wildlife and glacier viewing, epic hikes and tours of historical sites in Wulaia Bay, once visited by Charles Darwin. Guests can experience three trips in one while living aboard the Australis, a state-of-the-art expedition ship (4 nights) and staying at Hotel Las Torres (2 nights) and The Singular Patagonia (2 nights). Scheduled departures are from December 2020 through March 2021. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/18/20 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, February 17, 2020

New Direct Flight from Boston to Asheville, North Carolina

Starting May 8th, Allegiant Airlines will be flying direct from Boston to Asheville. I’m really excited about the opportunity for clients to visit this town on a direct flight and to see the expansive Biltmore Estate and its resplendent gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. From beginning to late spring, the gardens come to life with the tulip bloom followed by multi-colored azaleas, rhododendrons, and come May, roses in the rose garden. Another joy is the 80-mile stretch of roadway between Asheville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are numerous opportunities to stretch your legs and stroll to lonely mountain streams and waterfalls. Back in Asheville, a celebrated foodie destination, grab tapas like squid ink paella at Curate. Luella’s Bar-B-Que (just north of downtown) serves ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken wings, even barbecued tempeh.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/20 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 31, 2020

Best of the New in Travel in January ActiveTravels Newsletter

We receive, on average, 500-plus press releases a day telling us about all the new hotel openings, adventures, tours, cruise ships, art exhibitions, and much, much more in the world of travel. That’s in addition to all the travel publications that arrive via snail mail. Believe it or not, we actually skim every one of those emails and magazines to see if anything excites us. If it meets our discerning eye, we pass it on to you. Every January, we highlight what’s new in the world of the travel in our newsletter. Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Simply tell us where you’re headed and ActiveTravels will give you the scoop on what's new.

 
We’re off to sail the Grenadines with our friends (and colleague) Amy and Josh. We’ll be back the week of February 17th. In the meantime, keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/31/20 at 06:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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