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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Every Season, Memories of Martha’s Vineyard, by Phyllis Méras


By the time I met Phyllis Méras over a decade ago, she already had an illustrious career as travel editor at the New York Times and Providence Journal. That’s not to say that she was retired by any means of the imagination. Over dinner, she would tell me about her travels to Europe or Africa, and her publishing efforts. Her latest book pays homage to her home of Martha’s Vineyard and it is perhaps her most personal work. She talks about how her great-grandfather, a French professor, came to the island in 1890s to teach at the Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute. As managing editor at the Vineyard Gazette for six years starting in 1967, Méras met many of the island’s most famous residents, including Walter Cronkite, Beverly Sills, James Cagney, and Thomas Hart Benton. Yet, this book, exquisitely illustrated by her late husband, landscape painter Thomas Cocroft, and architect Robert Schwartz, details her walks in Menemsha to find ripe blackberries, paddling the often-overlooked ponds, and watching skunk cabbage rise in early spring. Take time to smell the roses with her in Edgartown and you’ll walk away with a finer appreciation of the island. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/26/12 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Nichole Bernier’s Debut Novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with talented editors who could tweak your stories seamlessly, only enhancing your voice. I’ve also known editors who were used as staff writers, creating well-crafted stories. But very rarely did I find an editor who could do both jobs well, edit and write. One of the few exceptions was Nichole Bernier, my former editor at Boston Magazine. She was a wonderful editor to work with, sculpting each one of my stories effortlessly. I also looked forward to reading her intriguing work. So it comes as no surprise that Nichole’s debut novel was just released by Crown Books. Actually, when you consider she’s now a mother of five, it’s a marvel that she had time to pen one paragraph, let alone a book The Washington Post recently praised: “Why do we keep secrets from those we love most? Is it possible for mothers and fathers to have it all — work and family? Bernier’s excellent storytelling skills will keep you pondering long after the final page.”
Please join me as I plan to hear Nichole read from her book tonight at Brookline Booksmith at 7 pm. Or look at her home page for a list of readings this summer across the country, including Chicago, San Fran, and New York. Here’s a blurb about the novel:
Summer vacation with her family was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a plane crash. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth's journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew. The complicated portrait of Elizabeth — her upbringing, her marriage, and journey to motherhood — makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a moment of uncertainty in her own marriage. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn’t know about her friend — including where she was really going when she died.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/25/12 at 12:00 PM
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Days of Comparing Airfares Are Gone

With the recent announcement from Spirit Airlines that they were going to charge as much as $100 for a carry-on bag, the days of simply comparing airfare prices are long gone. In fact, says Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, this is a wake-up call for the Department of Transportation. “Consumers don’t fully understand just how much these extra fees end up adding to the total cost of travel.” He adds, “Our surveys have shown that more than half of the airline travelers in the U.S. find themselves surprised by extra fees after they have purchased their airline tickets.” Leocha notes that a typical US Airways flight from Washington Reagan to Boston can be purchased with an airfare of between $140 to $170 on most dates with an advanced purchase. Baggage charges for two checked bags will cost $120 round-trip, adding 70 to 85 percent to the cost of travel. Adding a special seat reservation can easily double the cost of travel. “Unless a passenger is traveling with only a small purse,” notes Leocha, “they will be required to pay some sort of fee on Spirit Airlines, which makes comparing only airfares bogus.” Make sure you take into account the price of luggage and reserving a seat the next time you book a flight! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/08/12 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy to Announce the Launch of a New

I’m excited to announce the launch of our new membership-based travel consulting and booking agency, As many of you know, I’ve been working as a professional travel writer since 1990, visiting more than 80 countries and writing over 1200 stories. Whenever one of these stories is published, I receive numerous follow-up emails and calls from people asking for more specifics about that particular travel locale. Even with the glut of travel information out there on the web, expert travel advice is at a minimum. So, prospective travelers contact me to get in-depth knowledge from a trusted source. 

This is exactly why I created! Just like you rely upon a financial advisor to give you advice about your investments, it’s a good idea to trust a travel consultant and advisor to help plan your valuable vacation time with friends and family.  According to a New York Times article last Sunday, the need for a reliable travel agent has never been greater. Together with my wife, Lisa, we are delighted to be able to offer that service to anyone who joins
Lisa is now an accredited travel agent with two pillars of the travel industry, the Virtuoso Network and CWT Vacations, the leisure arm of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Through her contacts, she can often get discounted room rates, complimentary upgrades and breakfasts, and on-site spa or food and beverage credits. Just this week, she saved friends $750 on discounted room rates at the same hotels they booked online. In addition, I have developed great relationships with hotels, outfitters, and restaurateurs over the years, so you can expect VIP service whenever you trust us to book your next escape. 
As a husband and wife team, you can look forward to dealing with a “mom and pop” atmosphere where each member will be appreciated. This is not your corporate agency where you are just another face in the crowd. We look forward to getting to know you and your travel preferences and to giving you exceptional personalized service. 
Happy Travels!
Steve and Lisa
P.S. I'm taking the week off from blogging to tend to the new business. I'll be back next Monday with guest blogger, Emily Bradbury, talking about her recent trip to Costa Rica. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/30/12 at 12:00 PM
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Go Play!

On May 27th, the Boston Globe will debut the redesign of its new travel section. I’ve been asked to write a weekly column called “Go Play!” where I’ll take a detailed look at one hike, one bike ride, one mountain climb, one beach stroll, one sea kayaking jaunt, or one river paddle. It’s often what I write about in this blog, so thank you for being my soundboard and helping me hone the concept! Next week, I’ll be blogging live from San Antonio. I usually don’t like to write live from location, because any work takes away from your enjoyment of the locale. That’s why tweeting works so beautifully. On a trip, I’d much rather spend 30 seconds on a tweet than 30 minutes on a blog. But I’ll give it a go and see what happens. Enjoy the weekend, and yes, go play!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/20/12 at 12:00 PM
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thanks for Your Patience!

I know my blogs have been sporadic at best these past weeks and I apologize. I want to get you updated on a lot of items happening in the travel world but first and foremost, I need to make sure the transition from to goes as smoothly as possible. Lucky I’m in the good hands of Portland, Maine’s iBec Creative so there’s only been a few bumps in the road. I’m off to Manhattan, but I’ll be back next Tuesday with a full slate of blogs. The week after that, I’ll be blogging live from San Antonio during their 11-day Fiesta, featuring parades, festivals, concerts, coronations, athletic events, art exhibits and more. As always, thanks for sticking with me and I look forward to an exciting spring and summer. Have a great weekend and keep active!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/12 at 05:50 PM
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Changes Are A Comin’

By now, you should have noticed the new logo and blue background for It’s part of a major redesign of the website my wife and I plan to launch in the next week. In fact, this blog will be moved to Hopefully, for all you subscribers, the transition to the new web page will be smooth. Otherwise, you might have to subscribe once again. Sorry for the inconvenience. I really appreciate every one of you who have stuck with me over these past two years of blogging! I'll fill you in on more of the changes happening at ActiveTravels when I return from Louisville on Tuesday. In the meantime, have a great weekend and keep active!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/23/12 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, March 05, 2012

KLM’s New Meet and Seat

Forget about With KLM’s new Seat and Meet Program, you could have a marriage proposal by the end of that 11-hour flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. Or a very uncomfortable situation where you want to be seated far away from that creepy guy immediately after takeoff. Here’s how it works. Go to and log in to Manage my Booking. Go to the ‘Seating’ tab and click ‘Meet & Seat’ on the right. Log in to your Facebook or LinkedIn account and select the profile details you want to share. The seating map will show you other passengers’ details and which seat they have chosen. You can then select your seat next to someone with similar interests. Or you can simply remain anonymous and strike up a conversation the old fashioned way. Remember how to do that? 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/05/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Travel with Richard Bangs and Mountain Travel Sobek to North Korea

It doesn’t surprise me that Richard Bangs is leading the first adventure tour of North Korea, September 21-29, 2012. After all, it was Bangs who led the first tour to the People’s Republic of China back in 1977. He was also the man behind the first American tour to Libya in 2004. Best known as co-founder of Sobek Expeditions, Bangs almost single handedly put the sport of white water rafting on the map. Sobek was the first outfitter to descend Chile’s Bio Bio River and Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River, now considered classics. In 1991, Sobek merged with Mountain Travel to form one of the premier adventure travel companies in the world. 
Bangs will co-lead the upcoming trip with his long-time friend, C. J. Wheeler, one of the very few people who have traveled in North Korea before. With a special permit, MTS has been awarded exclusive space for 24 travelers to participate in this intriguing jaunt.  Once in Pyongyang, you’ll travel by private charter to Mount Baekdu, a stunning volcano near the Chinese border that few westerners have seen. Then it’s on to Mount Chilbo, one of North Korea’s most remote and scenic areas, and Kaesim Buddhist Temple, built in 826. For a finale, you’ll witness the Arirang Mass Games at May Day Stadium. The London Guardian calls the Mass Games “the greatest, strangest, most awe-inspiring political spectacle on earth.” 100,000 performers in every color of the rainbow move in perfectly choreographed unison.
While we’re on the subject of Richard Bangs, you should check out his five-part series on western Ireland, complete with video, at Huffington Post. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/09/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Congratulations to Felicity Aston

In early December I wrote about the 33 year-old British adventurer Felicity Aston and her attempt to become the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica. Well, she not only completed the 1,084-mile trek from Leverett Glacier to Hercules Inlet, she finished three days earlier than planned. “When I saw the coastal mountains that marked my end point, I literally just stopped in my tracks and bawled my eyes out,” Aston tweeted. Hauling two sleds in often fierce headwinds, Aston pushed on in solitude for 59 days. Well done! You’ve earned a steady diet of Yorkshire pudding upon your return home. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/26/12 at 02:00 PM
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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