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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to Create a Yearlong Itinerary

Yes, we're happy to offer advice on a romantic river cruise in Europe or a family multisport adventure to Costa Rica, but now and then we get requests from clients that offer real challenges in the world of travel and thus get us very excited. Recently a middle-aged couple from Boston signed up as members of ActiveTravels and wanted our help to create a round-the-world epic yearlong journey for their sabbatical. We spent an hour on the phone with them on Monday night and I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to figure out the major legs of their flights. It's still not ironed out, but it will go something like this: Boston-Lima-La Paz-Quito-Bogota-San Fran-Honolulu-Tahiti-Auckland-Sydney. From Sydney, they'll take affordable flights across Australia and Southeast Asia, most likely Sydney-Melbourne-Perth-Bali-Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Hanoi-Hong Kong-Shanghai. But once they reach Sydney, they're off the grid, so to speak, booking their own short and affordable flights until they reach China. This way, they have some spontaneity built into their itinerary and if they want to spend two weeks in Bali instead of one, so be it. I have to fit Tibet in there somewhere, then it's off to Tokyo-New Delhi-Amsterdam-Boston. In Europe and India, they'll be taking short affordable flights all over the continent, similar to SE Asia. Then it's back home on this September to September romp. 
 
Once we book the major international flights, we'll sink our teeth into the itinerary, booking all their requests and our suggestions, including a weeklong cruise in the Galapagos, hiking in Tibet, and stays in ashrams in India. The hard part is estimating the amount of time to spend in each locale. Sure, you can get a good taste of Australia in three weeks, but it's nice to double that time and include Tasmania, Broome, the Kimberley, and Kakadu National Park. But every add-on leads to an omission further down the road, so it becomes a great big balancing act. One that I cherish like a kid in a candy store. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 23, 2018

The March 2018 ActiveTravels Newsletter is Now Available

Twice a year, Lisa and I go to big Virtuoso travel agent events to learn about the latest developments in the hotel, adventure, and cruise world. We just returned from an intensive 4-day conference in New Jersey where we met over 100 suppliers in the business, jumping from desk to desk every 15 minutes to hear what's new and exciting in the travel world. To hear the 6 trips that got us truly excited, please check out our latest newsletter. I'll also introduce readers to two other suppliers next week, so stay tuned. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/23/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 27, 2018

Check Out the April 2018 ActiveTravels Newsletter

Not surprisingly, Italy is once again the top summer destination for our members, with Spain, Greece, Portugal, Scotland, and Iceland not far behind. Bike or drive through the rolling foothills of Tuscany along the Arno River and you quickly understand why Italy continues to seduce. You'll stop to taste wine from local vineyards, olive oil from orchards, and walk on the cobblestone streets of medieval villages like Cortona, where Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed. Add requisite stops in Venice, Florence, and Rome, the dreamy landscapes of the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Capri, and the growing popularity of Sicily and Puglia and you begin to realize why Italy keeps us busy year-round.
 
We work with a number of wonderful Italy-based tour operators who will custom-design your private trip based on your interests, be it food and wine, biking and hiking, arts and culture, history, or all of the above. They will take care of all the logistics including lodging, transfers, and activities. We also book a number of guided trips, when our clients love to leave all the worries to someone else so they can sit back, relax, take in the sights, and make new friends. In this month's issue of the ActiveTravels newsletter, we select five group trips our clients have loved. We also talk about Medawisla, the newly revamped lodge run by the Appalachian Mountain Club in the remote Maine woods, and remind you of the benefits of booking with a travel agent. Please have a look! 
 
I'm off to Saratoga, Valley Forge, and Philadelphia next week to pen a story for Chevrolet's New Roads Magazine on a driving trip to Revolutionary War sites. I'll be back on May 7th. Have a great week and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/27/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 11, 2018

ActiveTravels Ranks No. 278 of World’s Top Travel Blogs 2018

Found out this week that ActiveTravels made the list of top travel blogs in the world, according to Gary Arndt's Everything Everywhere. The extensive list was based on SEO metrics, but it's obviously skewered toward his liking since Everything Everywhere is ranked number 4. Regardless, I appreciate the effort Gary took to finally have a list of travel bloggers all over the world. He mistakenly notes that I started blogging 19 years ago. I actually purchased the ActiveTravels URL 19 years ago but didn't start blogging until 2009. It's nice to be recognized for my work on the blog. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to check in now and then to find out what's new in the world of travel. Keep it up so I can crack the Top 100 listing by 2020! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/11/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quick Escape: Williamsburg, Virginia

Hop on a 2-hour direct flight from Boston to Richmond and drive less than an hour to reach historic Williamsburg. Best known as a Colonial outpost and neighbor to Jamestown, America's first permanent settlement, Williamsburg now attracts music lovers, foodies, and active travelers. Local Bruce Hornsby is bringing back Funhouse Fest, the 2-day music festival that gathers award-winning artists on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, June 22-23. Outdoor lovers can rent bikes and hit the Colonial Parkway. This two-lane road transports you back to an earlier time connecting Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown over 23 miles. Most of the ride is flat and offers vistas of water and woods, of marshes and herons. For an alternative, check out the Historic Jamestown Bike Trail, a 5-mile loop on Island Drive that features 11 interpretive stops including a panoramic view of the James River, archaeological excavation sites, and the nests of bald eagles. Bay County Kayaking offers a range of guided 2 to 3-hour kayak eco tours including trips to Queen's Creek, a tidal creek that empties into the York River, where you might see otter, muskrat, crabs, and deer. You'll hear from your guide about its rich history in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. 

Crabs, oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels and a variety of fish, all pulled from local waters, make Williamsburg a seafood hot spot. Waypoint Seafood and Grill celebrates the Chesapeake Bay, featuring York River Oysters, local jumbo lump crabmeat, a fried oyster salad, and market fish of the day. Take a short drive along a country road out of town to Café Provencal, on the grounds of The Williamsburg Winery. The French-inspired cooking features local ingredients in an elegant yet relaxed setting, like a raw plate with marinated amberjack, seared scallops, soft shell crabs in season and roasted black bass. Be sure to ask ActiveTravels about our hotel pick in the area, including the Williamsburg Inn and the Kingsmill Resort.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/16/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Going on Safari in Kenya Will Get Easier Come October

Very excited that Kenya Airways will start daily non-stop service from New York's JFK Airport to Nairobi on October 28, 2018. A member of the SkyTeam Alliance, the only African carrier in the group, Kenya Airways will offer 30 Premier World lie-flat seats in each Dreamliner aircraft. The 7,360-mile journey is scheduled to take 14.5 hours from New York to Nairobi and 15 hours on the return flight. October is an ideal time to be in the Maasai Mara, when the summer crowds are long gone. Go on a circuit route with The Safari Collection and spend the first two nights at Nairobi's Giraffe Manor, which I visited when writing this story for The Boston Globe. Then head north for 3 nights to the cultural hub of Samburu and the luxury lodge, Sasaab, before spending the final 3 nights at Sala's Camp in the Mara. Contact ActiveTravels and we'll be happy to package together all lodging, guides, and flights with Kenya Airlines. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/18/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Caribbean Comeback, Hotels Picks in Ireland, and MuseumHack in May ActiveTravels Newsletter

In a May 2nd travel story in the Boston Globe, writer Christopher Muther noted that due to the battering of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Caribbean "lost nearly 1 million visitors and an estimated $900 million in tourism-related spending." He goes on to add that "the Caribbean could see losses totaling more than $3 billion during the next four years until visitor rates climb back." Thus the reason why it's imperative to support the region now more than ever or thousands of jobs will be lost. Thankfully, many of the top properties have spent the year rebuilding and have announced opening dates for the upcoming winter season. Please consider staying at one of the resorts we mention in our May ActiveTravels Newsletter when thinking about escaping the cold this coming winter. Also in this month's issue is a round-up of our clients' preferred properties in Ireland and why Williamsburg, Virginia is far more than a historic hub. Please have a look! 

We're off to Ithaca with the family to celebrate our son, Jake's graduation from Cornell. Have a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend! We'll be back next Wednesday. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/24/18 at 05:00 AM
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

SeaDream Releases Mediterranean Voyage in July

With only 56 staterooms, SeaDream likes to call its ships yachts. But there's no denying this all-inclusive cruise line is one of the best in the business, the reason Forbes named it the "Best Small Luxury Cruise Ship." Its small size is also the reason why one of its two yachts is often booked for private charter. In the case of the upcoming July 12-21 Mediterranean cruise, it was booked privately from a resident of Saudi Arabia, who just cancelled! SeaDream has just opened up the trip to the public and has only sold 7 of the 56 rooms so far. It's a wonderful itinerary, starting in Rome and visiting Capri, the Amalfi coast, Sicily, and Corfu, ending in Dubrovnik. Dining, premium wine and beverages, gratuities, and all activities are included in the price, starting at $5199 per person. Please let ActiveTravels know if you're interested and we'll help book the berth and find flights. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/31/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 15, 2018

Happy Father’s Day from ActiveTravels

I often joke with my kids that they grew up in the pages of The Boston Globe (the photos on the left are Melanie from a story on mid-coast Maine and Jake from a story on Costa Rica). Lately, I've been writing about our family trips for Virtuoso Traveler, like the stellar time we had in Switzerland with Backroads last summer. This is what I live for, creating Dream Day experiences with my family. And it's probably the number one reason we started ActiveTravels, to hopefully form lasting memories for other families. Thankfully, you don't have to always travel the world to savor a moment with your children. On Monday, we threw the bikes on the back of the car and drove to Arlington, Massachusetts, to bike along the Minuteman Bike Trail to Davis Square and the latest trail extension into Somerville. It was a leisurely spin, stopping for cold brews, and watching a family of newborn swans, and it was glorious. On Father's Day, we're heading to Chinatown for dim sum and then strolling to SoWa Open Market to listen to music, see the art, and grab a beer. Have a Fantastic Father's Day and get out there with the kids to create an unforgettable experience! 

I want to thank Amy for her wonderful job showing us around the Big Island of Hawaii and the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario. I'll be back next with blogs on my recent trip to Medellin and Cartagena. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 25, 2018

ActiveTravels Partners with Vinodivino to Present Wine Cruise to Bordeaux in 2019

Bostonians know that Vinodivino, owners of 4 wine stores in the region, take great pride in choosing the finest wines for the discerning palate. Now they'd like to apply this same eye for quality to the world of travel and introduce you to a trip that will no doubt excite your senses. They have selected the highly reputable river cruise line AmaWaterways for their Vinodivino Wine Cruise to Bordeaux, November 7-14, 2019. AmaWaterways is a leader in the river cruise industry, known for its top-tier ships that offer comfortable berths, less than half the people on other river cruises, the best WiFi in the cruise world, and most importantly, the finest cuisine and wine. You'll board the newly refurbished AmaDolce in Bordeaux and travel to the Sauternes wine region. Then it's on to Pauillac, gateway to the famed Médoc region, renowned for producing some of the world's finest Bordeaux wines. You'll see some of the most beautiful and famous wine estates, including Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Pichon Longueville. There's also an opportunity to add a 4-night pre-cruise guided jaunt to Bilbao, Spain, or a 3-day post-cruise add-on to the castles of the Loire Valley. 

 
Please let ActiveTravels know if you're interested!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/25/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Cuba, Colombia, Hartford, and More in August ActiveTravels Newsletter

Lisa and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Megumi Gordon, granddaughter of ActiveTravels member, Naomi Gordon. Megumi, along with her husband, Michael Laverty, and his brother, Collin, is co-founder of Habana Live, a tour operator in Cuba that custom-designs trips to the island based upon your interests. With new nonstop service on JetBlue starting on November 10th between Boston and Havana, (JetBlue already offers direct flights from JFK to Havana), there's no better time to visit Cuba. Along with Megumi, many outfitters and cruise lines are adding Cuba to their list of destinations this winter. To see the five ways we recommend visiting Cuba this winter, please see our latest ActiveTravels newsletter. We also include highlights of my recent trip to Colombia, as well as a fun quick escape to Hartford, Connecticut. And if you're heading to Europe this year, read about the great (and free!) audio tours by travel author Rick Steves.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens to Open Early 2019

For those of you who want to see the Parthenon and then head out of the city to the nearby beaches, look no further than the new Four Seasons Astir Palace Athens, set to debut early next year. Only a 30-minute drive from downtown Athens, the 303-room property fronts two beaches and houses 3 pools. There will also be a spa and a choice of 8 restaurants and bars. It's the perfect venue for starting or ending your trip to Greece, only a 30-minute drive from the international airport. Also be on the lookout for the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley, slated to open the summer of 2019. Set on a serene vineyard in Napa, the property will feature 85 villas, each with a fireplace and private terrace. If either resort looks enticing, please send us your dates and ActiveTravels will be happy to check pricing and availability. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/12/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hawaiian Airlines To Start Nonstop Flights From Boston To Honolulu

One of the big stories in the Boston world of travel this past week is the announcement that Hawaiian Airlines will soon be flying out of Logan Airport's Terminal E. Starting April 4, 2019, Hawaiian Airlines will fly five times a week on the longest scheduled domestic route in America, a whopping 5,095 miles. It will take 11 hours and 40 minutes for the Airbus A330 to fly westbound to Hawaii and 10 hours 15 minutes to return to Boston. Book through tomorrow, September 20th, and fly in April 2019 and the round-trip cost starts at $643 per person. Once in Hawaii, let ActiveTravels take over. We know the islands, lodgings, and activities extremely well. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/19/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, September 28, 2018

Caribbean Getaways, Munich Hotels, and Away Luggage Featured in Our September Newsletter

This is the time of year when ActiveTravels is busy booking warm weather destinations for clients who want to escape the cold this coming winter. So it's no surprise that we focus on the Caribbean as our main feature in the September newsletter. Oktoberfest has also arrived, a good time to discuss favorite Munich hotels. We also describe Lisa's latest luggage, Away, where you can charge your phone directly to the carry-on. She'll put it to good use as we leave for Italy today. We'll be checking out Florence, the Amalfi Coast, and ending in Rome. The highlight is biking with good friends on a 6-day bike ride in Puglia with DuVine Cycling. We'll be even more well-versed in all things Italy upon our return, so we can better help you on your forthcoming trips there. Amy is also out of the office as she is taking an exciting cruise circumnavigating Newfoundland with Adventure Canada. We'll all be back on October 17th. Until then, enjoy Autumn and keep active! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/28/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 19, 2018

Purchase Membership to ActiveTravels and Proceeds Will Go to World Central Kitchen

Since we started ActiveTravels in 2012, we've always had a Holiday push in November and December to help spread the word and to share the yearly membership fee with a worthy cause. In the past, we have donated to Heifer International and Ryan's Well Foundation. This Holiday Season, if you purchase a membership to ActiveTravels for you, a friend or family member, we will donate half of the proceeds to World Central Kitchen. Founded by renowned Chef José Andrés, the World Central Kitchen team arrived in Puerto Rico September 2017 just a few days after Hurricane Maria wiped out the entire power grid. After cooking a few thousand meals at his friend's restaurant, Andrés began receiving calls for aid from all over the island. He quickly expanded operations, mobilizing a network of emergency kitchens, food trucks, and partner organizations to make sure that communities in need received quality meals. They want on to serve over 150,000 meals in a single day, becoming the largest fresh meal operation following the hurricane. They have since served a mind-boggling 3.6 million meals in Puerto Rico and have moved on to help other regions hit by hurricanes and earthquakes, like Florida, North Carolina, and Indonesia. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all coming up this week, consider purchasing the gift of travel and all the memorable experiences associated with your vacations. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/19/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Biking Puglia, Resort Picks on Amalfi Coast in November Newsletter

Spend 18 nights in Italy and you learn a wealth of travel info on the country. You can read about our bike trip with DuVine Cycling and the resorts we liked on the Amalfi Coast in the latest ActiveTravels newsletter. We also introduce you to the valuable flight and soon to be hotel app, Hopper, and talk about the debut of The Glen Hotel at the base of mighty Mount Washington in New Hampshire. 

 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. I'll be back on Monday to discuss the highlights of my recent trip to Kentucky Bourbon country. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 03, 2018

What’s New at Vermont’s Ski Resorts

Vermont has been blessed with a deluge of late fall snow, creating excellent early ski season conditions. For example, Jay Peak already has a depth of 44 inches with all of their ski trails open already. And at Killington, Stowe, and Sugarbush, more than half of the trails are already open, so don't hesitate to hit the trails now. The big news out of Vermont this off-season was Tim and Diane Mueller's sale of Okemo to Vail Resorts, so Okemo is now part of the Epic Pass. They join Stowe in Vermont, which this season will introduce on-mountain "Kids Adventure Zones." These well-signed areas will give kids the opportunity to easily access gentle freestyle terrain. Mount Snow will be debuting its brand new $22M Carinthia Base Lodge, located right at the base of Carinthia Terrain Park. Lastly, Sugarbush will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this ski season with fun events planned throughout the year. If you need help with lodging and restaurant selections and exciting off-mountain activities, we're here to help at ActiveTravels!

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/03/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 17, 2018

Escape to Montage Palmetto Bluff

Best known for their properties in Laguna Beach and Deer Valley, the hotel brand Montage also runs the vast Palmetto Bluff property on the South Carolina coast, about a half-hour drive from Savannah. The 20,000-acre resort offers more than 30 miles of riverfront, more than enough space to play on the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, even go clay shooting. Expect Southern hospitality like the local May River Oysters served during Happy Hour and a wealth of lodging options to choose from. Montage opened the 74-room Inn at Palmetto Bluff in late 2016. But we love the resort for its stand-alone cottages, 35 privately owned vacation homes that are up for rental when the owners are not around. This is ideally suited for families, especially during February, March, and April school break. Average highs in mid-February are in the mid-60s and it only gets warmer throughout the spring. It makes for a great add-on for trips to Savannah or Charleston. Please contact ActiveTravels if you'd like us to design an itinerary and suggest other hotels, restaurants, and activities in the region. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 21, 2018

5 Winter Escapes, Group Travel, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in ActiveTravels December Newsletter

These next two weeks, we have clients traveling to all corners of the globe from South Africa to Argentina to Australia. But if you're looking for something a bit closer, where you can relax on a beach with a good thick book and soak up that sunshine, consider our 5 choices for a quick winter escape in the December ActiveTravels newsletter. Please also read about my recent trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and how, more and more, we're booking families and groups of friends on private trips with active travel outfitters like Backroads and DuVine. 

 
We'll be back on January 3rd. Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy, and Active New Year! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 18, 2019

ActiveTravels January Newsletter, Best of The New Travel in 2019

We look forward to bringing you the ActiveTravels January Newsletter each year because it gives us a chance to discover what's new in the world of travel. If it wows us, then it passes the test and we're excited to share it with you. Please have a look to see our roundup of the latest and greatest hotels, resorts, cruises, adventures and restaurants to debut in 2019. 

We're off to Hong Kong and Bangkok tonight for the next two weeks. We had to leave two days early to avoid the winter storm and snow headed to Boston. We'll be back on February 4th with the highlights from Amy's recent trip to Thailand and Laos. Thanks, as always, for checking in! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/18/19 at 06:00 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.

ActiveTravels.com is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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