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Travel Advice

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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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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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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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

ActiveTravels, Home to the New England Dream Day Itinerary

Travel and Leisure just came out with their 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020, and much to our delight, Boston popped up at Number 10 and Maine at Number 29. If you’re thinking of a Boston and New England trip in 2020, we’ll happily design a route and point you in the right direction. Since ActiveTravels made its debut in 2012, we have designed more than 100 itineraries for clients headed to New England from all over America and the world (including New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, and Israel). We send clients all over the globe, but New England is our area of expertise. I wrote more than 400 travel stories on New England for The Boston Globe and Yankee Magazine, and authored Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England. Depending on your passions, we can customize our Dream Day Itineraries for wildlife lovers (moose, whales, seals, beavers, and loons), active travelers (biking past 5 lighthouses in Portland, hiking to waterfalls in the White Mountains, paddling the Allagash River), foodies (James Beard award winning restaurants and favorite lobster-in-the-rough joints in Boston, Portsmouth, Portland, and the Maine coast), or art lovers (MFA, the Clark, Mass MoCA, the Farnsworth). We’ll divulge all of our secrets, especially the most scenic off-the-beaten-path driving routes. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/17/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 13, 2019

5 Wellness Retreats, Vermont’s Woodstock Inn in ActiveTravels December Newsletter

In our November newsletter, we noted that our colleague, Rachel, has now become certified as a Wellness Travel Advisor. She can discuss with expertise a curated list of wellness properties that would be best suited for what you’re yearning for, from yoga to nature to nutrition to health to personal growth. Rachel can not only find the exact lodging that suits your needs, but can get complimentary amenities like room upgrades, free breakfasts, and $100 off spa treatments. In this month’s issue, we feature the resorts she likes best. Also in the December issue is a great package deal at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont and our favorite brews to try in the state, when savoring that apres-ski pint. Please have a look!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/13/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 29, 2019

Give the Gift of Travel on Small Business Saturday

Thanks to your generosity last year, we were able to donate to World Central Kitchen, which has served over 10 million fresh meals to those in need after disasters. This Holiday Season, we are happy to contribute to Action Against Hunger. They work in over 47 countries around the world to help feed millions of people. If you take the time to look at their website, they list all the countries they help, how many people they've reached, and how big their team is in each region. It's amazing to see and we truly want to support their efforts in their fight against hunger. Join ActiveTravels or purchase an annual membership for a friend or family member and $30 from each subscription will go straight to Action Against Hunger. Annual membership to ActiveTravels is $60 per year, less than dinner for two. Consider the happiness it will bring your friends and loved ones for the coming year!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/29/19 at 07:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Stocking Stuffer No. 2—The Red Bandanna Travel Book, The Medicine of Traveling

I read this slender memoir/self-help travel book on my train ride back from New York to Boston. When I finished, I wish I had taken the book in sections, working on the assignments the author Joanne Socha had created at the end of most chapters. This is a unique book that’s meant to be savored at a slow pace. Socha is a travel advisor that I know through my affiliation with Virtuoso and Largay Travel. She knows firsthand the anxiety most people have before and during a trip. In fact, no one I know is stress-free when it comes to travel. I have bridge phobia and I’m neurotic about getting to the airport early to catch my flight. But that never stopped me nor does it stop Joanne, who follows her dream as she travels the globe, visiting the destinations on her wish list. What I loved about this book is that Socha shares her vulnerability, overcoming adversity, so when she’s finally snorkeling in the Maldives in a sublime blissful state, you realize she earned it. She deserved to be there and so do you. Just remember to do your homework! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/26/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Stocking Stuffer No. 1—100 Things to Do in Boston/Rhode Island Before You Die

One of the earliest blogs I wrote, almost a decade ago, was on how to find the best travel guidebook. One of the points I touched on was who is the author and where does he live? If the guy lives in Texas and writes about South Africa, I’ll put that book down in favor of a local writer in Cape Town who knows his country far better than any foreigner. Which brings me to my first Stocking Stuffer of 2019, 100 Things to Do in Boston Before You Die and 100 Things to Do in Rhode Island Before You Die. Not only do I know the authors of these books, Kim Foley MacKinnon and Bob Curley, respectively, but I have no qualms saying that they are the best qualified people to pen these titles. Both MacKinnon and Curley have written countless articles and books on their hometown destinations, so if anyone would know the hidden nooks and crannies of Boston and the state of Rhode Island, it would be these two. This is one of those rare travel guidebooks that’s best suited for locals to know their city and region better. I can’t wait to dig into Curley’s book to savor sunset on the deck of the Coast Guard House in Narragansett and check out Charlestown’s River and Roots Festival over Labor Day Weekend


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/25/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Peru, Caribbean Retreats, and Grand Velas in October ActiveTravels Newsletter

My recent travels to Peru was all the inspriation I needed to pen this month’s main feature in the ActiveTravels Newsletter. We've also listed some of our all-time favorite places to go with the family when the temperatures drop to help you start planning now for colder times ahead. Lastly, we talk about the recent renovations at Samoset Rockland, Maine, and a great promotion from Grand Velas resort properties in Mexico. Please have a look! 
Have a fantastic weekend and stay active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/25/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Last Chance to Read the September ActiveTravels Newsletter

It might be the second day of October, but I was gone so much in September that I never had the chance to discuss the September newsletter of ActiveTravels. In this issue, we divulge 5 Tried and True Winter Escapes for our clients, including Morocco and the Ocean Club in the Turks and Caicos. Other topics include a Quick Escape to Reykjavik and the need for a REAL ID on all domestic flights starting October 1, 2020. Our October issue of the ActiveTravels newsletter will be coming out on October 10th and will include my recent trip to Peru. Stay tuned! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/02/19 at 06:00 AM
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about us
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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association