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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Italian Travel Expert Reid Bramblett to Lead Trip to Italy in 2015

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the work of travel writer Reid Bramblett since we were both contributing editors at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine some 15 years ago. He’s the foremost expert on Italy, where he spent his adolescence and then proceeded to pen ten guidebooks (including Frommer’s and DK titles) and far too many articles to count. He has since launched, a travel planning website that I often use to design itineraries for clients heading to Italy. So I was excited to hear that Reid will be guiding a weeklong tour to Tuscany July 2015 in conjunction with Bliss Travel. A dozen lucky people will have Reid as their tour guide as he heads to Florence and then the cherished Tuscan hill town of Montepulciano. You’ll sample Vino Nobile wine from barrels aged in Etruscan-dug tunnels, take private cooking classes, and tour the spectacular towns and vine-draped hills of the surrounding Sienese countryside. Cost is $3500 per person. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/04/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, May 09, 2014

May Newsletter Now Available at

I just spotted a bright yellow goldfinch outside my office window. Yes, springtime has finally arrived in New England along with budding magnolia and weeping willow trees and the blooms of tulips, hyacinth, and forsythia. Time to go play. Summer is officially around the corner. Our May newsletter covers mostly domestic travel despite the fact that so many of our members are traveling to Europe right now. We don't want you to forget the beauty of the National Parks, the fun of camping with your family (especially if the tour operator is doing all the heavy lifting), and the enticing events on Nantucket in May and June. Amsterdam is our sole European subject in this issue as we cover some of our favorite properties. Enjoy the weekend! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/09/14 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Good News from Conde Nast Traveler, Men’s Journal

While I was in San Antonio last week, Lisa and I were approached by Conde Nast Traveler to design a detailed itinerary along the New England coast for families. The finished column will appear in the summer issue and will include 3 of our favorite upscale lodgings, Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, and Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Another piece of good news, Men’s Journal asked me to be their resident travel expert. I will be writing a column a week for their website and magazine. I’ll be sure to link many of the stories to my blog here, in addition to all the content I already write for The Boston Globe, FamilyVacationCritic, Yankee, Everett Potter’s Travel Report, and others. So be sure to check back! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/07/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, February 28, 2014

Emirates Starts Nonstop Service from Boston to Dubai on March 10

All New Englanders who are avid travelers should rejoice that Emirates will soon be offering non-stop service from Boston to Dubai. Not only to check out Dubai, but to use as a hub to head south from UAE to Nairobi and Capetown, or further east to Mumbai and Phuket. Not only will it spur on competition to these locales, hopefully resulting in reduced prices, but it will save considerable travel time. For example, scuba divers and honeymooners heading to the Maldives (only a 4-hour flight from Dubai) will now be able to save six hours of travel time due to the direct flight. With Turkish Airlines starting non-stop service from Boston to Istanbul in May and the Chinese carrier, Hainan Airlines, set to begin nonstop service from Boston to Beijing in June, it’s never been a better time for New Englanders to check out the world. If the choices seem overwhelming, is here to offer our expert opinion based on your desires. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/28/14 at 11:00 AM
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Providence Features Children’s Film Festival

No need to wait for the next WaterFire to return to Providence. Over February break (February 13-22), the city is hosting its fifth annual Children’s Film Festival. Close to 20 films will be shown at three different venues around town. The impressive line-up includes the French Academy Award nominee, “Ernest and Celestine,” Harold Lloyd’s classic silent film, “Safety Last,” and a movie Roger Ebert called one of the five best films ever made for children, the Japanese animated flick, “My Neighbor Totoro.” March 20 brings the return of Gallery Night. From 5 to 9 pm, buses and curators will bring you to the city’s 26 galleries to talk about the latest art. Tours leave every 20 minutes. While in town, check out North, which Boston Globe food critic, Devra First, called one of her favorite restaurants in 2013. The innovative Southeast Asian fare includes mussels, drunken and stirred, and flounder with golden oyster mushrooms. We recommend spending the night at our favorite property in town, Hotel Providence, an 80-room boutique hotel smack dab in the center of town. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/10/14 at 01:27 PM
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Music in 2013, Beyond the Obvious

Like I do every year, I listened to every cut on the best songs and album lists from NPR, New York Times, Boston Globe, others. 2013 was another stellar year for music, and I’m not simply talking about the debut of Lorde or the latest release from Vampire Weekend, albums that you’re well aware of. I like to find that rare gem that falls below the radar. Take, for example, this beauty from Brooklyn’s Son Lux, which was released in late October. Yes, I already have tickets to his show at Boston’s ICA on March 21st. I love the sensualized sound of Rhye in “The Fall,” the soulful Billy Holiday-like jazz singing of Cecile Mclorin Salvant in “Womanchild,” the mesmerizing electronica of Rudimental’s “Spoons,” and the highly original “Magical Boy” by DJ Koze. “When I’m climbing lemon trees of feeling…” Robotic, yet hypnotic. Another song I love to play again and again is “Retrograde” by James Blake. Remarkably, he’s up for a Grammy for Best New Artist this coming Sunday. I hope they let him play my favorite, “The Wilhelm Scream.”


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/21/14 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, January 17, 2014

January Newsletter Now Available at

This summer, Four Seasons will be opening their new Orlando property within the gates of the Walt Disney World resort. Talk about the best of both worlds. You can spend the day at Disney, then return to the property for a much-needed couple’s massage at the spa. Kids will love the water slides, lazy river, climbing wall, and activity center on an island built for them. Parents can unwind on the links of the Tom Fazio-designed Four Seasons championship golf course or sip a cocktail by the adults-only pool. At night, head to the rooftop steakhouse to see the fireworks display. 

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando is just one of the many new properties, cruises, and tours we discuss in our latest newsletter. Marlon Brando's dream of a sustainable Polynesian resort will finally open in July on what was his private Tahitian atoll, Tetiaroa. Silversea Expeditions will launch their new ship in the Galapagos Islands this month. Micato Safaris designed a dream itinerary for families headed to Kenya and Tanzania next summer. Check it out. If anything looks intriguing, please contact us at to discuss and book. 
Enjoy the weekend and keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/17/14 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, November 22, 2013

November Newsletter Now Available at

The increasingly popular getaway of Belize, our favorite outfitters for family safaris in Africa, a river cruise on the Danube with Uniworld, and a romantic retreat at Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont are some of the topics we discuss in our latest issue. Have a look! Also note that if you join ActiveTravels during the Holiday Season, we are donating $10 of your $60 annual membership to Heifer International. You could help give the gift of a water buffalo to a deserving community. 

I’ll be off next week, back the week of December 2nd with my favorite après-ski bars in North America. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/22/13 at 11:00 AM
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Monday, November 18, 2013

WayGo is the Way to Go When Visiting China

I’ll never forget that hellish taxi ride my brother and I took from the Bangkok airport to our hotel. After an exhausting flight, we drove aimlessly around town because the taxi driver couldn’t understand where we were staying that night. We pointed to our trusty guidebook but quickly realized that the driver had no idea what we were reading because the Thai have a completely different alphabet. It wasn’t until my brother neighed like a horse and pointed to the gold on a watch that the driver figured out where we were spending the night, “The Golden Horse.” I’m not a linguist, so translating other alphabets is, well, Greek to me. That’s why I was delighted to hear about the WayGo App that travelers are already using on their trips to China. Simply point your iPhone at any Chinese menu or street sign and it translates. No internet connection is necessary. Other languages are on the way, including Thai, hopefully. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/18/13 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Buy An ActiveTravels Membership and Support Heifer International

For our holiday promotion this year, we’re partnering with Heifer International. With your help, we hope to give the gift of a water buffalo to a deserving community. Why a water buffalo, you ask? Water buffalos provide rich milk with lots of protein and nutrients, and they help farmers to plant four times as many crops, till the fields, and provide necessary fertilizer. Join ActiveTravels or purchase an annual membership for a friend or member of the family and $10 will go towards the purchase of a water buffalo. If we get 25 new memberships during the months of November and December, our goal will be met and we can provide sustenance for a needy community. Already, we have 4 new memberships in the past 2 weeks. Thank you!
Still not convinced you need a travel agent in this day and age. Here are some thoughts to consider:
Overcome Analysis Paralysis—A recent study said that the average person spends 29 hours researching his next vacation. Spend as much time on the web as your heart desires, but realize that as a member of ActiveTravels, you can bounce ideas off a travel writer that’s been to over 80 countries. You’ll get unbiased travel advice from someone who’s been to that exact location. 
Better Rooms—In an upcoming article I wrote for the Boston Globe, I discuss how hotels treat third-party bookings from Priceline, Travelocity,, as their least important priority. You’re given the worst room in the house because there’s no sense of loyalty with these sites. The travel business is all about relationships. Aligned with Virtuoso, we have relationships with hotel GMs around the globe and we call them personally when we book one of our clients.
Customer Service—Flight cancelled? Lost luggage? Have to reschedule a flight? Good luck dealing with Orbitz and Expedia. If you’ve gone through this recently, you know the pain. A travel agent makes those calls for you and has contacts at the airlines the public does not have. 
Contacts Around the Globe—Want to travel independently to India, Patagonia, or Thailand? Have fun researching that journey on the web. It’s an exhausting task. We work with excellent ground operators in Delhi, Buenos Aires, and Bangkok who know their country intimately and can help with all the logistics. 
Annual membership to ActiveTravels is $60 per year, less than dinner for two at a halfway decent restaurant. We guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/15/13 at 11:00 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