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Options multiply for single parents

February 01, 2004|By Lisa Iannucci | Special to The Times

The kids may still be in school and the calendar may still say winter, but vacation time will be here before you know it. For single parents trying to fill two roles, however, a vacation may seem more like work.

Travel agents, resorts, touring companies, hotels and cruises have recognized single-parent travel as a niche market and are beginning to cater to them, offering special rates and package deals and eliminating single supplement fees.

"Single parents need a vacation even more so than the average parent because they are doing double-parent duty," said Brenda Elwell, author of "The Single Parent Travel Handbook" and the founder of .

"They have to take care of the children, do all the chores, take care of all the finances and be all of the emotional support to the children, so they need a vacation to just have fun."

Be prepared for the single-parent difficulties on vacation, such as an amusement park that seats only two in one car or doing something that one child wants to do and another doesn't. Research as much as possible so you're prepared. Don't promise what you can't follow through on.

Here is a sampling of some single-parent vacations for 2004 as well as informational websites:

•  Single Parent Travel Network (mentioned above) offers a comprehensive website with a wealth of resources and vacation information and a free newsletter.

It was founded by Elwell, who also organizes single-parent getaways, including a Feb. 20-22 winter break in Solvang. Other trips are planned to Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Vermont.

For information: (v877) GOGO-SPT (464-6778); .

•  Quality Time Travel is a travel agency that focuses solely on single-parent family trips. On the agenda this year is a spring break cruise from New York to the Bahamas from April 4-11, and Pinegrove Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, N.Y., over Memorial Day weekend.

For information: Quality Time Travel, P.O. Box 1141, Commack, N.Y. 11725; (631) 543-4009 or (888) QLTYFUN (758-9386), .

•  Parents Without Partners has a five-night western Caribbean cruise from Tampa, Fla., to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico, from Aug. 21-26, starting at $340, not including airfare. There's also a trip April 18-25 that includes Belize, Grand Cayman and Cozumel; prices begin at $380.

For information: 1650 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 510, Boca Raton, Fla. 33432; (561) 391-8833, . To make a reservation, contact Helen Lutz at Carson Wagonlit/Doneson Crown Travel, 21742 W. 11 Mile Road, Southfield, Mich. 48076; (800) 772-5811 or (248) 353-5811; or

•  Pinelands Resort is in Port Carling, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. No single supplement is charged; available all season. One child at half-rate for every paying adult, with the child occupying the same unit as adults.

For information: Pinelands Resort, RR 3, Port Carling, Ontario, Canada P0B 1J0; (800) 461-4260 or (705) 765-3226, .

•  Western River Expeditions, a rafting outfitter with trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona, does not charge a single supplement on river trips and has youth rates on some trips.

For information: (800) 453-7450, .

•  For single moms who need a break without the kids, Adventures in Good Company has solo trips for women and offers financial assistance for single moms who want the opportunity to travel but can't finance the entire vacation.

For information: (877) 439-4042 or (410) 435-1965, .

Lisa Iannucci, a New York- based writer specializing in single parenting topics, is the founder of .

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