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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Save Money on Rental Cars

Last week, I took the family to Miami Beach and Marco Island for Presidents Week vacation. Flying into Fort Lauderdale Airport, rental car prices were averaging a ridiculous $750 a week for a mid-sized vehicle. But if you picked up that same car down the road from my hotel in Miami Beach, the price was significantly reduced to a more affordable $300 a week. With a cost of taxi from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami Beach being a mere $35, I saved myself over $400 simply by not booking the rental car at the airport. It seems that rental car companies are intentionally jacking the prices at airports, assuming that travelers don’t want to hassle with picking up the car at a downtown location. But if you do the search like I did on the Dollar website, you’ll be happy with the savings of dollars!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/25/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bike the Indian Continent from Agra to Kanyakumari

Tour d’Afrique, the socially responsible bike touring company out of Toronto, doesn’t fool around when they create their dream bike trips. In 2003, they traversed the entire African continent in four months, from Cairo to Capetown. Then came the 50-day jaunt on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul, the 2752-mile Silk Route ramble from Istanbul to Samarkand, and 7500-mile Vuelta Sudamericana that traveled from Rio to Quito. Starting in January 2011, they will set their sites on India, cycling from the Taj Mahal to the southern tip of the country, passing though the desert cities of Rajasthan, the city of Mumbai, and the beaches of Goa. You can take the trip in its entirety (2050 miles) from January 29 to March 15, 2011 or split it up into sections. The $5200 cost includes guides, van support, and lodging. A much needed masseuse for those tired calves is extra.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/24/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Year of Saving the Tiger

Last week, celebrations across the globe brought in the Chinese New Year. 2010 marks the Year of the Tiger, and to commemorate the occasion, the Chinese government has teamed with the World Bank and conservation groups to help save its dwindling wild tiger population in the country. The South China tiger, not seen for years, is believed to be extinct. The latest effort is to help save the Amur tiger in northern China, which now numbers in the teens and could very well be extinct by the end of this decade. The latest building boom has encroached on the tigers’ migration route and poaching always remains a problem. But the government hopes to offset the loss through habitat management, education, and more powerful law enforcement. Let’s hope this leads to a much needed increase in the wild tiger population.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/23/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Go Straight to the Source in Vietnam

One of the reasons I started ActiveTravels was for people across the globe to tell me about their favorite spots to enjoy the outdoors. It’s simply impossible for one travel writer to know all the active hotspots around the world. I also wanted local outfitters who specialize in one region of the world to check in and tell me what they’re doing. A decade ago, I wrote an article for Budget Travel magazine telling reader to go straight to the source. Instead of spending gobs of money to hire an American outfitter to take you to Vietnam, where they simply hire local guides to show you around, go straight to those guides! No one knows their country better than locals and their trips are usually far cheaper. Thankfully, indigenous outfitters are starting to find me and I’m happy to plug them. Just last week, I received an email from Dung Van Nguyen from Green Trail Tours, an outfitter based in Hanoi who has spent the past nine years bringing people around Vietnam. They have trips for bikers, kayakers, trekkers, rafters, you name it, practically any activity you want to do in the country. The cost is as low as $990 US dollars for a 9-day guided bike tour, including lodging and meals.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/22/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Go Galavanting

There was a time when Kim Mance was behind the scenes, working as a travel columnist for Marie Claire magazine. But ever since she launched her Galavanting travel show on the web in 2008, she’s been front and center, bringing us around the world as host.  Together with her fashion-conscious cohort Maren Hogan, they venture everywhere from Roatan, Honduras, to Hokkaido Island in Japan, trying the food, sampling the clubs, and, most enjoyable, experiencing the adventure. In Costa Rica, they go rappelling down a waterfall and in an upcoming webisode on Colorado, you can find Kim ice climbing. “I thought I was going to hit myself in the head with the ice pick. But thankfully those crampons are more stable than you think they’ll be,” Manse says with a chuckle. The show has been a surprise hit on the web, with Manse currently in talks to bring Galavanting to one of the networks. Take a glance at Manse hiking deep in the rainforest of Costa Rica and you quickly understand why viewers find the active lifestyle so appealing.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/19/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Win a Trip to One of America’s National Parks

In celebration of the latest Ken Burns documentary, “America’s Best Idea: The National Parks,” the National Parks Foundation and ARAMARK Parks and Destinations are offering a free three night trip for two, including airfare and lodging, to one of their properties. They include Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park, Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park, and Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park. All you have to do is visit http://thisisyourland.nationalparks.org during the month of February and share at least one memory at any of America’s National Parks and you could be on your way back. Winners are announced in March.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/18/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bhutan or Bust

One of the biggest trends in travel right now is the increasingly popular multisport trip. Head off to a country and then try as many activities as possible, from hiking, to biking, to whitewater rafting. This has proven to be a huge success in places like Costa Rica which has a great mix of mountains, rivers, and ocean. Now Uma Paro in Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is entering into the mix. From July 6-13 and August 31-September 6, they are offering a weeklong adventure featuring rafting, biking, archery, and fly-fishing. The bike ride sounds like an incredible thrill. Guests are dropped off at the top of Chele La at 12,500 feet, Bhutan’s highest road pass. After taking in the magnificent views towards Mt. Jhomolhari standing at a mere 24,000 feet, you enjoy a 22-mile downhill run all the way back to Paro. You’ll also get to do a morning Puja (pilgrimage) to a local monastery.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shackleton’s 1914 Adventure in Antarctica Recreated by A Puppet Troupe

Combine marionettes with live music composed by the Kronos Quartet and you get a smaller-than-life reenactment of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 trans-Antarctic expedition. Called 69 Degrees South: The Shackleton Project, the play is created by the puppet theater company, Phantom Limb, and will be shown at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts on Saturday, March 13 at 8 pm. It will attempt to recreate the true story of Shackleton and his brave men trapped in an ice floe for 497 days, a remarkable story of survival that lends itself well to an intriguing night with puppets.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/16/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Win a Spot on a Biosphere Expeditions Trip

All you have to do is tell Biosphere Expeditions a little bit about yourself and what you can contribute to one of their projects and you could be one of two lucky buggers who win a free one or two-week jaunt with the volunteer-oriented wildlife conservation organization. What exactly do these expeditions entail? How about photographing whales, dolphins, and loggerhead turtles off the shores of the Azores to help monitor their migration patterns in the Atlantic, tracking jaguars and pumas in the Brazilian bush, or finding the elusive Arabian leopard in the desert and mountains of Oman. Deadline for entry is November 1, 2010, and you can submit either a 300-word essay or a 1-minute video clip.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/15/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Pat yourself on the back for the walk you took around the neighborhood today, as you should. Then go to the web and cheer on Leo Rosette, 59, who’s currently in a 24-by-6-foot boat desperately trying to become the oldest American to cross an ocean in a rowboat. He started January 4th off the coast of the Canary Islands and has already battled 25-foot waves, a freighter that was about to crush him if Rosette didn’t radio the ship and tell them there’s a boat the size of Whoville directly in front of him, and numerous whales and dolphins. This is Rosette’s second attempt to cross the Atlantic, having quit after three days because of stomach pains in December 2008. But now the former deputy marshal is almost halfway to his goal of rowing 2,038 nautical miles to the shores of Antigua.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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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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