How to find a friend to share the journey Maturity: Single people, age 50 and up, have a variety of options for locating travel companions.

Travel Q&A

December 14, 1997|By Jean Allen | Jean Allen,SUN-SENTINEL, SOUTH FLORIDA

Do you know of travel clubs for single people in their 50s? It would be great to meet other people who enjoy travel but have no one to do it with. I am a senior woman (mid-70s) and have been on many cruises, sharing a stateroom with another woman. Do you know of any travel agencies that might pair me off with another senior woman to share a stateroom to cut expenses, and perhaps make new friends? I might also be interested in a vacation by railroad.

There are several clubs for singles, and other organizations whose trips attract singles as well as pairs.

ISIS Women's Travel Association, 3313 Superior Lane, Bowie, Md. 20715, 800-432-8258, states it is for "women looking for innovative, interesting and secure travel." Isis is handled through some travel agencies and has a find-a-roommate service and quarterly newsletter.

Travel Companion Exchange publishes a chatty, helpful bimonthly newsletter, and pairs travel-minded single people, whether they prefer same-sex or opposite sex companions. The exchange provides the information, and members make their own contacts. For more information: Box 833, Amityville, N.Y. 11701, 800-392-1256.

The Women's Travel Club, 21401 N.E. 38th Ave., Aventura, Fla. 33180, 800-480-4448, has about 1,000 members, offers long and short trips, guaranteed room shares and group evenings at local events. The $35 annual fee includes a monthly newsletter.

The latest newsletter lists trips to spas, Guatemala, Italy, District of Columbia, Mexico, Southern U.S. plantations and Cajun country, Provence, France, California, Eastern Europe, antiquing in Florida and more, plus several evening meetings or social events. No cruises are on the list in the latest newsletter, but matches can be made among members.

There are a number of organizations whose trips for mature travelers 50 and up attract both singles and couples. The largest and oldest, Elderhostel, 75 Federal St., Boston, Mass. 02110, has study/travel programs that are often housed in college dorms that have only single rooms.

To explore all the ways to travel alone or to find travel mates, invest in a book, "Traveling Solo," by Eleanor Berman (Globe Pequot Press, $16.95). This fact-packed guide identifies tour operators for various kinds of trips and age groups, and explores their suitabilities for singles.

Berman lists mainstream and special-interest tour operators and hTC discusses which offer to find roommates, age ranges, percentage of solo travelers and male-female ratios. Other sections of the book discuss women-only adventure travel, Elderhostel and similar organizations, clubs, referral groups, newsletters for singles, and practical advice. for traveling solo.

My wife and I and our daughter, 12, are planning a visit to the Bahamas, and we would like to take part in the island's People to People Program. How do we go about doing this?

In the group of 700 islands, there are two ways to go. To sign up for the program on Grand Bahama island, contact People to People, Ministry of Tourism, PO Box F-40251, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, phone 242-352-8044. For the rest of the Bahamas, contact People to People, Ministry of Tourism, PO Box N-3701, Nassau, Bahamas, phone 242-326-5371.

People to People is designed for travelers who are interested in the Bahamian lifestyle. Prospective guests fill out forms, then the Ministry of Tourism, using its list of hosts, tries to match American and Bahamian families with similar professions and interests, such as teachers meeting teachers.

Get-acquainted meetings are usually held in the hosts' home, where refreshments or a meal may or may not be offered. Further socializing can be arranged if the two families like each other.

The program should not be a financial drain on either side, a point that's stressed in the People to People literature.

We are considering spending Christmas week in the Bahamas, but are wondering if there are enough activities to keep our kids happy.

Without knowing your children's ages or what island you are considering, I can say that yes, there are a lot of children's programs: Snorkeling off the Exumas on a boat day trip out of Nassau; swimming with dolphins at Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama or at the "Blue Lagoon" off Paradise Island near Nassau; a visit to Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, to see iguanas, flamingos, snakes, monkeys and rare birds; and walking on the ocean floor wearing a dive helmet on a tour out of Nassau.

Let a travel agent book your trip or contact the Bahamas' Ministry of Tourism at 19495 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 809, Aventura, Miami, Fla. 33180, phone 800-4-BAHAMA.

If you're there Dec. 26, you can witness the Junkanoo parade, when masked revelers in bright costumes prance down the streets of Nassau and in some of the Out Islands. Junkanoo is the Bahamian way of celebrating the British-inspired Boxing Day.

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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