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





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

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!





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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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip





(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled





(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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