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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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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nova Scotia to Restart Ferry Service from Maine Next Summer

Great news out of Nova Scotia yesterday with the announcement that the province of Nova Scotia has signed an agreement with Nova Star Cruises to re-establish round-trip ferry service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, starting May 2014. The ferry service ended in 2009, forcing New Englanders to drive through New Brunswick to reach Nova Scotia, making the trip far more arduous. As part of the agreement, the Province of Nova Scotia will provide Nova Star Cruises with up to CDN $21 million of financial support over seven years to assist the company with re-establishing the ferry service. Nova Star will leave Portland each evening at 8 pm EST and arrive in Yarmouth at 7 am AST the next morning. The ship will depart two hours later and arrive back in Portland at 5 p.m. local time. If you’re considering visiting Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, this might be the summer. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/13 at 11:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Miami Curated, Mandatory Reading for Those Headed to Miami

If you’re headed to Miami for Art Basel this December or maybe some much needed R&R on Key Biscayne or South Beach, do yourself a favor and check out the new blog by longtime travel PR maven, Karen Weiner Escalera, MiamiCurated. Known for her impeccable taste in food, fashion, and culture when she lived in Manhattan, Escalera has now set her sites on her new home base, Miami. A recent blog divulges top 5 new restaurant openings this fall. District Miami in the Design District, offering Pan-American fare. “Think creative ceviches, lobster malanga tacos, Vermont brie and chipotle burger and pastelitos with guava and goat cheese,” says Escalera. I’m sold!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/06/13 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, November 01, 2013

A Great Time to Be in Boston!

Call it justice for a city still healing from the loathsome murder and mayhem committed on one of our celebrated days of the year, the annual running of the Boston Marathon. Or simply pay heed to the remarkable job Red Sox GM Ben Cherington did by dumping the salaries of big name ballplayers like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and picking up the unheralded Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, and a journeyman 38-year old pitcher named Koji Uehara. After last year’s laughable season, where we ended up in last place, all we wanted was a chance to have fun at the old ballpark again. But when you’re led by a man named Big Papi, the Babe Ruth of our time, anything is possible. As a travel writer, I’m constantly on the road. Fortunately, I had no trips booked these past two weeks so I could enjoy every game of the World Series with my family. This weekend, there’s no place I’d rather be than home watching the duck boats drive by in a well-deserved parade. 

Enjoy the weekend and stay active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/01/13 at 10:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October Newsletter Now Available at

Analysis Paralysis. That’s how one of our latest members described the galling task of going through thousands of pages on the web to decide where to go, where to stay, where to eat on your next vacation. A recent study said that the average traveler spends 29 hours on the web researching his next trip. 29 hours! There’s nothing with doing a little exploration to get yourself excited about your next vacation, but 29 hours definitely sounds like analysis paralysis to me. One of the reasons we started is to give unbiased travel advice on the 80-plus countries I’ve already visited as a travel writer. We can cut through the layer upon layer of unnecessary travel content and pinpoint the exact locale that suits each client based on his or her passions. By all means, research a country to your heart’s content, but please call us to hear our viewpoint long before analysis paralysis sets in! 

October, when each day gets a wee bit chillier in the Northeast, is the time of year when folks start to think about winter escapes. In our October Newsletter, we discuss five of our favorite affordable Caribbean lodgings, a Costa Rican land operator already beloved my many of our clients, and getting away from Cancun to see Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and the numerous Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. I also talk about one of my favorite cities in North America, Toronto, perfect for a quick escape in October, and Lisa will share her newfound affection for the TravelPro Carry-On. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/22/13 at 10:00 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