Specialty Travel Resources

By Anne McDonough
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 4, 2007

You're out to conquer the world, one vacation at a time. And to help you along the way, we scoped out niche resources covering 10 popular travel categories, from dietary (vegan tours to Italy, anyone? Anyone?) to pet-friendly (including info on pet sitters). We also sought recommendations from experts in each field. Here are umbrella organizations, travel agents, Web sites and phone numbers to help you plan the Next Great Trip.

African American

P.J. Thomas is editor of Pathfinders Travel Magazine for People of Color (215-438-2140, http://www.pathfinderstravel.com; $18), which also offers a free e-mail newsletter with travel tips and deals. Thomas suggests consulting the travel agent locator operated by Travel Professionals of Color (866-901-1259, http://www.tpoc.org), a trade organization with several members in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

Among other resources we found:

* The African American Travel Conference (330-337-1116, http://www.aatconline.com) is an organization of more than 2,500 travel planners focused on African American travel. Its site is mostly for travel agencies but also lists contact info for its members.

* The Black Boaters Summit, a popular event held in the British Virgin Islands, is arranged by Honey Let's Travel (510-222-6308, http://www.honeyletstravel.com), an African American-owned travel agency in California.

* The nonprofit National Association of Black Scuba Divers (800-521-6227, http://www.nabsdivers.org) arranges dive trips and is a clearinghouse for dive-related information and education; Underwater Adventure Seekers (http://www.uasdivers.org) is the Washington chapter.

* National Brotherhood of Skiers (773-955-4100, www.nbs.org) is an umbrella group of more than 75 ski clubs across the country. One area club, Black Ski Inc. (301-231-3900, www.blackskiinc.org), organizes year-round ski and non-ski travel events.

* SoulofAmerica.com (http://www.soulofamerica.com) publishes online city guides focused on African American culture and heritage. The site includes information on passport rule changes, photo galleries and Caribbean island highlights.

Gay and Lesbian

John Tanzella, executive director of the nonprofit International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (800-448-8550, http://www.iglta.com), recommends travelers go to the destination city's convention and visitors bureau Web site. "Many of them now are adding a GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] link on their sites for this specific niche," he said by e-mail.

According to the IGLTA, the top three gay-friendly U.S. cities are San Francisco (415-391-2000, http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/gaytravel), Key West (800-352-5397, http://www.fla-keys.com/keywest/gaykeywest.htm) and New York (212-484-1200, http://www.nycvisit.com, then "Visitors," then "Planning Your Trip," though it needs a 2007 update).

Among other resources we found:

* The Damron Co. (415-255-0404, http://www.damron.com) publishes guidebooks, compiles a worldwide events calendar and offers a tour guide database.

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