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Single parents need vacations too, and more destinations want them to visit

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When Tanya McNally, a Tampa, Fla., resident who works in human resources, was planning a vacation a few years ago for herself and her two teenage sons, she had recently gotten divorced and felt anxious about the prospect of travelling with them alone.

“I was very aware that we would be going on a family trip in what was not a traditional family setup of two parents,” McNally said in a recent interview.

Disney Cruise Line is one of a handful of cruise companies that offer specific programs that cater to single-parent families.
Disney Cruise Line is one of a handful of cruise companies that offer specific programs that cater to single-parent families.  (CATIE MCCABE / The NewYork Times)

Amanda Norcross, the features editor of the online travel magazine Family Vacation Critic, said that the travel industry is paying more attention to single parent family vacations because the number of solo parent households has increased. (According to 2016 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88 to 69 between 1960 and 2016.)

“The definition of what constitutes a family has changed over the years, and travel brands are seeing an opportunity to cater to this niche market,” Norcross said.

Here are some options for a single-parent-led family vacation.

Consider a cruise

McNally and her sons ended up taking a cruise to the Caribbean with Disney Cruise Line because she had heard that the line went out of its way to accommodate single-parent families. For example, single-parent families can choose to dine with others like them and may also be paired for shore excursions, so children have a chance to make new friends, and parents have other adults to interact with. Additionally, all four of Disney’s ships have planned activities for solo parents and every sailing offers kids and teen clubs with activities all day that are included in the cost of the cruise.

McNally and her sons had such a good time on that trip, roughly four years ago, that they’ve since been on nine more Disney cruises, including one last December to the Bahamas. “The setup on the boats made me and the boys completely relaxed,” McNally said.

Disney Cruise Line is among the several travel companies that increasingly cater to single-parent families by grouping them with others who have a similar family setup and offering them price breaks. Some companies have even introduced specific single-parent itineraries.

The river cruise line CroisiEurope, for example, normally charges single adult travellers a supplement fee that’s 30 per cent of the total cruise fare (a weeklong all-inclusive trip costs around $2,500 U.S.). In July and August, however, this fee is waived for single parents on select European cruises when they’re travelling with children who are 16 or younger; children on these itineraries also sail for free. In addition, the supplement is waived on the company’s Christmas market cruises on the Danube and Rhine River.

Michael DaCosta, CroisiEurope’s marketing manager, said that the company introduced these incentives a few years ago in an attempt to broaden its customer base.

“We were seeing a lot of older cruises, but we wanted to reach a wider demographic,” he said. So far, they’ve had success: DaCosta said that about 575 single parents, along with their children, cruised with the line this past summer.

Find a travel agency that caters to single-parent travel

Dyan McKie, a Melbourne, Australia, resident and the brand manager for family adventures at Intrepid Travel, said she and 5-year-old her daughter, Beatrice, feel out of place when they’re around two-couple families on their frequent travels together.

“Sometimes we want company for dinner or when we’re doing an activity, but I don’t want to force ourselves on anyone,” she said.

Motivated both by her own experiences and the increasing number of single-parent families booking trips with her firm, McKie created six new tours specifically for solo-parent families to Costa Rica, Thailand, Northern India, Egypt, Vietnam and Morocco.

The trips range in length from eight to 15 days, and have a starting price ranging from $555 to $3,185, airfare not included.

And Britain-based Virgin Holidays started a new single-parent trip category last October that includes air-inclusive trips to 10 Caribbean resorts where parents don’t pay a single supplement and children get a discount. The tour operator initiated the change after numerous requests from customers, according to the company’s managing director, Joe Thompson. “Single parents were telling us that they needed affordable vacation options for their kids, and that’s what we’re trying to give them,” he said.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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