Q: I am looking for good vacation spots for a single mom and her child. I can't see myself at the beach or Disney World. Any interesting spots from Washington up to Canada?
A: When I recently dropped my daughter off at Camp Rim Rock in West Virginia for her first two-week residential camp experience, my husband had to drag me away. No, it wasn't separation anxiety--the camp looked so good that I wanted to stay. Screened-in cabins nestled in the woods, nonstop activities, meals cooked by someone else. Unfortunately, Camp Rim Rock doesn't offer a family week, but some residential summer camps put aside a week or two each summer, usually in August, for family programs. Choices include:
Kingsley Pines (1-800-480-1533, www.kingsleypines.com) in Raymond, Maine, situated on 70 acres on Panther Lake, hosts a family camp week Aug. 22-28. Cost is $375 for adults, $155 for children 13-17, $140 for children 9-12, $130 for children 4-8, and free for children under 4.
Camp Friendship (1-800-873-3223, www.campfriendship) in Palmyra, Va., offers a family camp week Aug. 23-29 and a family camp weekend Sept. 3-6. Cost for one adult and two children for the week is $800.
Great Camp Sagamore (315-354-5311) on Sagamore Lake in New York's Adirondacks offers several family camp weeks, including July 25-30 and Aug. 15-20. Cost is $525 for adults, $290 for children up to age 14.
A good general source of information about family camps is the American Camping Association, a nonprofit group of camp directors. The association hosts a free interactive database on its Web site (www.acacamp.org), or call 765-342-8456.
Q: I will be traveling to Sydney for two weeks in November. I've been advised that the public transport system is very good. Can you recommend an area to stay in that is neat and clean, but not too hard on the wallet, and still accessible to public transportation?
A: Public transportation in Sydney is very good. There's an airport express bus, an underground that serves the city center, an extensive bus system, a ferry transport system, even a monorail. The Sydney Pass allows unlimited travel on all buses, ferries and central CityRail lines, plus unlimited use of the Sydney Explorer and Bondi & Bay Explorer buses, tourist lines that explore the inner city and the coast. A three-day pass costs about $56. Information: Australian Tourist Commission, 1-800-433-2877, or the New South Wales Public Transport Authority, www.sydneytransport .net.au.
To maximize your public transport choices, stay in the city center or in an area called the Rocks. The Rocks, located right on the harbor, is close to Circular Quay, where you can catch buses or the ferry. Hotel choices include the Russell, a small boutique hotel with rooms starting at about $130 a night. In the city center, the Country Comfort Sydney Central, at George and Quay streets, is a bargain at about $88 a night. A good Internet source of information for accommodations in Sydney is www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au, or contact the Australian Tourist Commission.
Q: I am interested in spending a long weekend exploring Pennsylvania Dutch country but do not want to waste time on shameless tourist traps. Can you recommend ideas that would include hiking and biking?
A: Several state parks in the Pennsylvania Dutch region offer biking and hiking. French Creek State Park, south of Birdsboro, has two lakes and 40 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, and is also adjacent to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, an example of an early-American ironmaking community. Information: 610-582-9680, and www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks. Pennsylvania also has a fairly extensive "rails-to-trails" program, and several are in Pennsylvania Dutch country, including the five-mile Conewago Trail, which goes from Elizabethtown to the Lebanon County line. Information: 717-787-6674, www.dcnr .state.pa.us/rails.
There's a useful item on biking the Pennsylvania Dutch country in Outside magazine's "Guide to Family Vacations." Several cycling itineraries are outlined, such as a day trip that starts in the town of Ephrata, heads 12 miles south to Intercourse, "where Amish crafts like quilts and wooden rocking chairs are sold," then heads six miles west to the town of Bird-in-Hand for a visit to the farmers market before returning to Ephrata. The item also recommends interesting places to stay, restaurants and map sources. If you want a guide, contact Bill Gentile at Mount Gretna Mountain Bikes. He'll rent you bikes and design a custom package. Information: 717-964-1836, www.gretnabikes .com.
General Pennsylvania Dutch Country visitor information: 1-800-PA-DUTCH or www.800padutch .com.
Mary Ann Puglisi, spokeswoman for eduVacations in Washington, says her company is a great alternative for single travelers (Travel Q&A, June 13) because it doesn't impose surcharges on its "mostly single eduVacators."
"Most of the travel we arrange is for single travelers (particularly women, not necessarily single, but traveling alone), and we rarely include a single surcharge and do not place travelers with roommates unless the traveler requests it," Puglisi said.
The company specializes in learning vacations in languages, sports and arts, and in travel to Europe, South America and Russia. A typical two-week trip to France to study French, with accommodations in a studio apartment, costs $1,175. Information: 202-857-8384.
On the same topic, reader Ruth Penny of Bethesda wrote to point out a math mistake. "It seems unlikely that any single in his or her right mind would pay a surcharge of 150 to 200 percent, which would mean one would be paying 50 to 100 percent more than the total cost to a couple," Penny wrote. What I meant to say is that a single often pays 1 1/2 to two times as much as a person sharing a room.
Penny also said she often cruises alone and has never paid a supplement of even 50 percent. "You can bargain for lower fares directly with the cruise lines," Penny said. "The best way to find cruise bargains that include reduced single supplements is to get your name on as many cruise mailing lists as possible."
On a different topic, Herbert A. Biern of Reston had more to say about the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, which I recommended on June 20. "You neglected to mention another wonderful aspect of this great resort. It is very dog-friendly. My wife, our German shorthaired pointer and I have stayed there twice, and greatly enjoyed the inn. It's a beautiful hotel in a great location."
Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost .com), fax (202-334-1069) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071).