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Monday, March 11, 2013

New Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad and Australian Outback Exhibition at San Diego Zoo

Visitors heading to the San Diego region this spring will find major changes at two of the area’s top family-friendly attractions. On April 5, 2013, Legoland California Resort will open the country's first Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad. The new hotel, next door to the theme park, will feature 250 LEGO-themed guest rooms. Making its debut in May at the San Diego Zoo is the Australian Outback exhibit. Venture through a eucalyptus grove and discover Down Under species like wombats, wallabies, kookaburras, and cockatoos, ending at the largest koala colony outside of Australia. Also at the San Diego Zoo this spring, people can see the adorable new panda cub, Xiao Liwu ("Little Gift"). Born July 29, 2012, the cub is the sixth panda born at the zoo and is on display from 9 a.m. to noon daily.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/11/13 at 12:00 PM
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Friday, March 08, 2013

March Newsletter Now Available at

Another snowy day in Boston. Sure, looking at the snow-covered pines were charming the first or second time this winter, but now it’s March and I’m ready for spring. In the meantime, I’ll daydream about French Polynesia, the destination that started me on the road to becoming a travel writer. News from the Road: French Polynesia, our first feature in the March newsletter, will give you valuable insight into traveling around this group of South Pacific isles. Other topics we touch on are five hotels we recommend in Venice, why Amsterdam is the hot Europe destination this summer, how to bypass long lines at favorite sites in London and Paris, and to what extent Azamara Club Cruises is shaking up the cruise industry by spending more nights in port.  I’m happy to report that our April newsletter will feature our first drawing, a 2-night stay and dinner at one of my favorite resorts in New England, the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and stay active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/08/13 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

February Newsletter Now Available at

Heading out with your child this spring, summer, or fall to look at colleges? Well, we’re happy to report that ActiveTravels now designs itineraries for college tours in New England and New York, Mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, and California. Tell us the colleges you want to tour, and we’ll package it together with hotels, restaurants, and sites along the way. That’s just one of the topics we cover in the February issue of our newsletter. Other stories include biking to Giverny on a day trip from Paris, three lodges we love in America’s National Parks, visiting Washington, DC, for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Junior’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and a tour operator we use for custom-made trips for families to Israel. As always, we’re here to talk about travel ideas for 2013. So if anything comes to mind, email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I’m off to Aruba to kick back with 12 members of my family. I’ll be back Monday, February 25th, with my favorite new trips offered by outfitters. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/14/13 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Larry Meehan, In Memoriam

“Steve, do you realize we’re standing at the junction of King and Queen Streets?” Larry Meehan asked in his typical animated tone. “No, Larry. Actually, I thought we were dining at a seafood restaurant,” I muttered. “This is the heart of Colonial Boston,” he would say to me, even more passionate. “Where it all happened!” Every conversation I had with Larry Meehan was peppered with some historical tidbit about his beloved city. Sure, he often spoke about the success of his wife and boys, biking around Martha’s Vineyard the week after Labor Day, when most of the crowds were gone, all the new hotels and restaurants that were popping up all over the city. And he couldn’t resist teasing me about my next Sabena Belgium assignment. One of the first stories I ever wrote was on a store in Faneuil Hall that sold detritus from the city, like seats from the old Boston Garden or a century-old street lamppost. “Is this for Sabena magazine?” he would say with a smile years later, referring to the now defunct inflight magazine. 

Larry Meehan was the head of media relations for Boston’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. In the past 23 years as a travel writer, I’ve dealt with PR from cities and countries across the globe and few, if any, were as genuinely fond of the locale they were promoting as Larry. He loved the history of Boston and was so dedicated that he persuaded me to start a local New England Writers (NEW) group with him, to get the word out to travel and food writers on all the topical events happening in the city during the course of the next year. Those meetings resulted in at least two dozen stories for me and countless other stories from the other writers. 
Then Larry found out he had cancer and I started seeing him less and less. He didn’t want to burden me with his illness, he told me over the phone. So I started writing letters to him and he would send letters back, drawings on the side, stemming from the days before the Boston CVB when he was a graphic designer. In December he died far too prematurely at the age of 60. This afternoon, there’s a tribute to Larry at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Of course, I’ll be there. But I wish he was there with me, telling me some anecdote about JFK’s life aboard a Navy ship or Jackie O’s wedding dress on inauguration day. Life moves on in Boston, but with the loss of Larry Meehan, there's a huge void that's impossible to fill. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/29/13 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, January 18, 2013

The January Newsletter Now Available at

Looking for travel ideas in 2013, then check out our January newsletter. In this month’s issue, we discuss the long list of outdoor adventures found on the Big Island of Hawaii, recommend three eco-resorts in the Caribbean, divulge our favorite ground operator in Italy, and suggest a quick winter getaway in New England at the Mount Washington Hotel. As always, we’re here to talk about winter, spring, or summer travel. So if anything comes to mind, email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Enjoy the three-day weekend. I’ll be back on Tuesday with my favorite National Parks to visit during the winter. In the meantime, get outdoors this weekend and be active. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/18/13 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Introducing the Dream Day Itinerary

Some of our clientele already have first hand knowledge of what we like to call the Dream Day Itinerary. Ideally suited for the independent traveler, these fleshed-out itineraries detail each day of your vacation, from activities to restaurants to hotels. We try to incorporate as much local flavor as possible, hiring local guides to take you to sites based on your particular love of art, architecture, the outdoors, and history. If we have not visited the restaurants first-hand, we ask locals we know and trust in the area for recommendations. In fact, many of the suggested activities, hotels, and restaurants on the Dream Day Itinerary stem from my own articles as a travel writer or come highly recommended from my travel writing buddies who have a specialty, like dining in Spain or skiing the Alps. So rest assured that these itineraries are personally curated by trustworthy sources. Just another perk of joining!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/14/13 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why You Still Need a Travel Agent

Last night, one of our clients, a family of six was flying back from St. Lucia, connecting in Miami on American Airlines. The second leg of their flight, from Miami home to Boston, was cancelled. They were given a hotel room and told by American Airlines to enjoy the next day in Miami. The earliest flight they could put the family on was the same exact flight the next night, the 9 pm flight. Our client didn’t want to spend an entire day in Miami, having just been on a week vacation. Her kids wanted to get home. So she did what any person would do in that situation, she pleaded with the American Airlines customer service rep at the Miami airport to please get her family on an earlier flight. Sorry. No can do. Then she texted us about 1 am to fill us in on the situation and ask if we could help. This morning, my wife, Lisa, a travel agent, persuaded her contact at American Airlines to put the family of six on a Jet Blue flight that will return home this afternoon. No extra payment, no change fees, nothing. 
The glut of travel information on the web helps breed a false sense of comfort and independence. Hey, I don’t need anyone to book my flights or my hotel room. I can go straight to Orbitz and TripAdvisor. But what happens when your flight is cancelled, your luggage doesn’t arrive for days, that oceanfront room that was promised to you overlooks a tennis court, or you break an ankle while biking and you need someone to help change the flights without paying exorbitant change fees? In other words, who’s got your back? All of these situations are actual events that happened to our clientele in 2012. Good luck dealing with customer service at Orbitz or if anything goes wrong. You’ll have that extra day in Miami, whether you like it or not. 
In 2013, make the shrewd move to join and you’ll always have someone you can call if something goes wrong. Having been in the travel industry for 22 years, Lisa and I have developed the necessary contacts to ensure that you’ll get as close to that dream vacation as possible. It’s an added layer of insurance, which only enhances our true forte, pinpointing destinations around the globe that suit your passions. $60 per household per year seems like a small price to pay to have someone watch your back when traveling. 
Wishing You All a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, and Stress-Free 2013! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/27/12 at 05:00 PM
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Monday, December 10, 2012

December Newsletter Now Available at

With the Holiday season upon us, there’s no place I’d rather be than Manhattan. Every December, our family heads down to the City to check out the shop windows, drink hot chocolate, catch a play, and visit an art museum with family and friends. Manhattan is just one of the locales we touch on in our December newsletter. Whistler is another cherished winter getaway, so I’m happy to divulge my favorite trails, restaurants, and hotels. Belize has been popular with our clientele all year, so it made perfect sense to discuss five top places to stay in the country. We also talk about a recent get-together we had with the highly reputable outfitter, Thomson Family Adventures, and let you in on some Holiday traveling tips. Have a look!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/10/12 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, December 07, 2012

Take Time to Savor the Present

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking at a travel-themed event in downtown Boston sponsored by the Scotch company, Glenlivet. It was held at the International Poster Gallery on Newbury Street, home to a glorious collection of vintage travel posters from the 1920s and 1930s. What a treat it was to talk about my life as a travel writer, surrounded by these classic posters of ocean liners, luxury trains, and airplanes, while sipping an 18-year-old Scotch. I wish all my talks were like this, instead of being stuck in some dungeoness room in a God-forsaken hotel. Glenlivet only wanted me to speak for a short time, so I simply distilled my 22 years as a travel writer down to “10 Places I’d Happily Bring a Bottle of Glenlivet.” I wanted to introduce the crowd of 50 or so people to some of my favorite off-the-beaten-track destinations, like Torres del Paine, Chile, and the Laikipia region of Kenya. If interested in seeing the entire list, shoot me an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll send it your way. It was the perfect way to kick off the Holiday Season with good Holiday Cheer. Hope you enjoy this month and take the necessary time to get together with good friends and family. If, like me, you’ve worked hard all year, you deserve that sip of Scotch. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/07/12 at 12:59 PM
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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Robert Kaufman’s 2013 Calendars

Few Americans know Italy better than my neighbor, Robert Kaufman, who returns to the country year in, year out to photograph exquisite landscapes, city architecture, and the enthusiastic people that call it home. Kaufman has just published his 2013 calendar of Italy and it’s a beauty, with wondrous shots of Porto di Messina in Sicily, the vineyards of Vicinanza di Vinci, and the throngs that crowd Venice during Carnevale. Just as delectable is Kaufman’s 2013 Edibles calendar, celebrating its 36th edition. The vivid blueberries, cherries, and Brussels sprouts pop off the page. It’s your choice: use the dull calendar on your smart phone or wake up every morning to these spectacular images. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/04/12 at 01:00 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