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Monday, April 11, 2016

Airlines Continue to Squeeze Passengers and Profits Thanks to US Senate

Not widely reported was a vote brought to the senate floor this past Thursday by New York Senator Chuck Schumer. The amendment would have blocked airlines from further reducing the “size, width, padding, and pitch” of seats, passengers’ legroom, and the width of aisles. If you’re feeling more and more cramped on airlines, realize that it’s not from all the food you devoured on vacation. Economy-class airline seats have shrunk these past several years on average from a width of 18 inches down to 16.5 inches. Also the pitch, the space between your seat and the one in front of you, has gone from 35 inches to around 31 inches. This is the thanks we get after airlines recorded a record-breaking year in 2015 thanks to the dramatic drop in fuel prices, an item I discussed in a recent interview with Fox News. Of course, the dysfunctional Senate voted against the proposal simply because Schumer is a Democrat, voting for the most part along party lines. But make no mistake that it’s the public that’s getting squeezed out of the equation. It’s the reason why business and leisure travelers always rate US airlines amongst the worst in the world on any recent survey. Sad. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/11/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis to Headline Festival International de Jazz

Called the world’s largest jazz festival by the Guinness Book of World Records, the 37th annual Festival International de Jazz returns to Montreal June 29th to July 9th. Concerts are scheduled from noon to midnight for 10 days and nights at 15 concert halls and eight outdoor stages. This year’s line-up, just announced, will certainly keep the crowds happy. The Chick Corea Trio, Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Center Orchestra, Rufus Wainwright, Lauryn Hill, the Avishai Cohen Trio, Melody Gardot, Gregory Porter, and Noel Gallagher are just a few of the many impressive performers that will appear. Participating hotels like Square Phillips Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Montreal are offering packages that include lodging, breakfast, and tickets to the venue. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/06/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

JetBlue’s Premium Service, Mint, to Debut in Boston

JetBlue’s version of Business Class, Mint, already popular in New York, will make its debut at Logan Airport at the end of this month. Starting on March 24th, the airline will introduce Mint service to San Francisco and two days later will offer Mint flights to Barbados. In October, Jet Blue will be adding Mint service to LA flights. Mint offers 16 lie-flat seats in the front of the cabin, four of which are suites with the option to close your door for more privacy. Lie-flat seats include a massage feature and a button that can adjust cushion firmness. You can access more than 100 channels through DirecTV and SiriusXM, and the plane’s FlyFi broadband connection promises a fast Internet. Meals were created by the New York City restaurant Saxon + Parole and include dishes like herb-roasted monkfish, poached lobster with corn custard, and bison meatloaf. A signature Mint cocktail is made with Grey Goose, and the wine selection includes roses and California varietals. Each Mint passenger will also receive a complimentary Birchbox, an amenity kit filled with moisturizer, soap, and other goodies. Seats on the San Fran flight start at $599 one-way. Logan passengers should also be on the lookout for new JetBlue flights to Nashville and Salt Lake City starting in May. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/09/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, February 29, 2016

National Parks Centennial, China, Montreal, and Jackson, NH in Feb Newsletter

Lucky to have Leap Year since I forgot to post a blog about our February Newsletter. In this issue, one of our clients writes a great piece on China from her travels there last summer with the wonderful outfitter, Wild China. Other topics focus on destinations closer to home like America’s National Parks celebrating their centennial birthday in 2016; the classic New England town, Jackson, New Hampshire; Montreal for some international flair; and a tip on avoiding mosquito bites due to mounting fears of the Zika virus. Have a look and enjoy this bonus day of the year. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/29/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My Guru, Perry Garfinkel, Offers Writing Retreat in Baja

In 1990, I left my job as an insurance broker in Manhattan and booked a four-month trip to the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia. The day before I left on that fateful journey, I was strolling through the Fifth Avenue Book Fair when I found a book titled “Travel Writing, For Profit and Pleasure” by Perry Garfinkel. I did exactly what the author advised, kept a journal when I was away, and when I returned home I sold my first story, “Learning to Scuba Dive in the Cook Islands” to The Miami Herald. It was the start of a prolific travel writing career, where I would write more than 1500 articles and close to a dozen books. Thankfully, Perry is still teaching his secrets to travel and memoir writing to anyone who has a desire to put a pen to paper. Join him in Baja at the CostaBaja Resort, April 14-19, for “A Writing Retreat: The Journey to Self Discovery.” Participants will learn how to find the soul of their story and source for new ideas, research in the field, conduct interviews, pitch editors, plan social media content, and make a business of writing. Cost of the 5-day, 4-night event is $2,139, double occupancy, and includes rooms with an ocean view, all meals, and inspiring lectures that will change your life.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/03/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Excited to Announce the Launch of the New ActiveTravels Website

After working diligently with our website designer this past year, we are pleased to announce the launch of our new ActiveTravels website. We hope you are as happy as we are with the new streamlined look and user-friendly tabs, now easier to use on your mobile phone as well as desktop, laptop, and tablet. We want to thank those of you who provided testimonials! We also hope members take full advantage of the archives section, where more than 3 years of newsletter content can be found on hundreds of destinations. So if you're thinking of a new locale to travel, this is a good place to start your research. Please tell us what you think. Thanks again for your continued support as we all make 2016 another memorable year of travel!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/28/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tradewind Aviation Now Offering Flights Between Westchester and Boston

Tradewind Aviation, the private charter service, best known for their flights from White Plains to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer, has now expanded their service to Boston’s Logan Airport. The 40-minute flight to and from the White Plains Airport is offered 8 times daily. Shuttle flights depart from private charter FBO terminals with no TSA delays. Arrive just 30 minutes before departure and relax in the FBO lounge. The flights are operated in Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 jet-prop aircraft flown by two pilots with air-conditioning, a pressurized cabin and plenty of room for luggage. Skiers will want to know that Tradewind Aviation will also begin flights between Westchester and Stowe, Vermont, starting December 11th. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/27/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, October 02, 2015

Exciting Times at ActiveTravels!

These are busy times for us at ActiveTravels as we listened to our growing membership and have started to design food, art, biking inn-to-inn, family adventure, and yoga trips exclusively for our clientele. We are partnering with some of our favorite people, including food and cocktail writers, restaurateurs, art historians, renowned adventure outfitters, and beloved yoga instructors to help lead these tours. Lisa and I hope to finalize the pricing and dates (starting in the fall of 2016) by the new year, when we also roll out our new website redesign. Yea! Thanks again for your continued support! What a long strange trip it’s been. As my dad used to say, “Enjoy the ride.”

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/02/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Natchez to Celebrate its 300th Birthday in 2016

Head south on Highway 61 through the rolling green farmland of the Delta and you’ll find the zig-zag shaped trenches Union and Confederate troops dug during the Civil War’s bloody Siege of Vicksburg, now a National Military Park. Another hour of driving and you’ll reach that gem on the Mississippi River, Natchez. During its heyday prior to the Civil War, when cotton was king, Natchez had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country. They built palatial estates that were largely spared during the Civil War due to its proximity to Vicksburg. The Union soldiers that survived that battle and made it to Natchez burned the cotton fields but left the homes intact. More than 150 of these structures still stand, including many that are still in private hands.

To celebrate its 300th birthday, Natchez is throwing a yearlong party in 2016. One of the best ways to see this queen of antebellum architecture is during the Spring Pilgrimage, held March 5 to April 5. Guides dressed in period costume bring visitors on morning and afternoon tours of these historic homes. Be sure to visit Longwood, a six-story octagonal-shaped house that was never finished due to the Civil War. Many of the original furnishings are on display including crates sent to the owner’s wife, Julia Nutt.  
If you spend the night at the Monmouth Plantation, you won’t have to dress in costume to feel like the regal owner of a southern plantation. Mint juleps are served in a frosty silver cup promptly at 6:30 in the Quitman Study. Then everyone retires to the dining room, an ornate parlor adorned with long chandeliers and portraits of General John Quitman, who called Monmouth home in the 1820s. The distinctly southern menu features crawfish chowder with just a hint of Tabasco, and lump crab cakes, also spiced, this time with a jalapeno hollandaise dip. Entrees include a mustard-crusted rack of lamb in a tangy tomato-based demi glace. The highlight of this sybaritic retreat, however, are the meticulously landscaped grounds, shaded by centuries-old oaks and their thick dress of Spanish moss, and bursting with the colorful azaleas that come to life in the spring. Monmouth is a peaceful oasis to whisk away an afternoon or two in the Old South with a good long book like Gone With the Wind.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/16/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Norwegian Airlines to Offer Low-Cost Flights from Logan

Great news out of Boston where Norwegian Airlines announced this week that they will be offering reasonably priced flights to London’s Gatwick Airport, Oslo, and Copenhagen, starting May 2016. Flights are already up for next summer and costs are as low as $545 round-trip to London, including all taxes. Also under the radar is the fact that they’re offering direct flights from Logan to Martinique and Guadeloupe, starting this winter. I checked this morning and was delighted to find the price to Guadeloupe over popular Christmas Week is $517 per person direct. Flights on JetBlue and other carriers that fly direct to the Caribbean from Boston during that same time period are already well over $1200 per person. So this is great news for travelers. The competition will hopefully result in other carriers lowering their costs. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/15 at 06:45 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