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Monday, April 15, 2013

Julius Jermanok Enjoyed The Ride

I was out of the office all last week, dealing with the unexpected death of my 83 year-old father. Jules Jermanok was a brilliant man, graduating at the top of his college class at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point), before having an esteemed career at General Electric. He was my most trusted advisor, teaching me life lessons like “Enjoy the Ride.” Like him at one point of his working life, I was jumping from plateau to plateau, never satisfied with my current success. Highly ambitious, I was missing out on life, taking precious friendships and relationships for granted. So he taught me to chill out and enjoy the ride, to live life in the present. 

He was always open to new experiences, new adventures. Last winter, I had to write a story on the Everglades. My brother came down with me and we sea kayaked through mangroves, biked on abandoned dirt roads, and then partook in an unusual experience called a swamp walk. My father insisted on going, so we bought him Tevas and met our guide, thinking that we’d be wading in ankle-deep water. Wrong! We walked into murky water up to our waist trying to stand on the unsteady ground. The guide told us about all the exquisite orchids that bloomed in the swamp in June. Unfortunately, it was December. The only thing I was looking at was the water behind me, making sure there weren’t any alligators or pythons lurking. At one point, my father turns to me and says, “Is this worth it?”
My dad is already sorely missed, leaving a huge void in my life, but I’m thankful to have memories like this one to hold onto. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/15/13 at 12:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Spring is Party Time in Nantucket

Nantucket knows how to throw a party, especially when the weather warms up. In late April, yellow is all the rage at the annual Daffodil Festival. Mid-May is time for the Nantucket Wine Festival, featuring Ming Tsai, Jasper White, Gordon Hamersley, and other Boston culinary elite sharing their talents. The Nantucket Film Festival comes to town in late June, usually accompanied by Ben Stiller, his famous parents, and “Fever Pitch” director Peter Farrelly. Buy tickets in advance for Farrelly’s Late Night Storytelling at the Rose & Crown, where directors, screenwriters, and actors share uproarious tales of their lives that often have nothing to do with filmmaking. The year-old Nantucket Hotel, sister property to the Winnetu on Martha’s Vineyard, is only a five-minute walk to Dreamland Theatre and the cobblestone streets of town. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/02/13 at 12:00 PM
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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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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