Whether you want to take a cooking vacation in Tuscany or cross the country by RV, agents, brokers and organizations can help. If you don't find your area of interest listed here--or if you want to know, generally, what special travel possibilities are available-- check out the Web site www. shawguides .com, an excellent guide to many kinds of special- interest travel. The Educated Traveler newsletter (see Educational Travel listing, below) is another all-around good reference.
Organization: America Outdoors (P.O. Box 10847, Knoxville, Tenn. 37939, 423-558-3595, www.americaoutdoors.org) comprises more than 500 adventure outfitters and operators in 40 states and 50 foreign countries. Its annual free catalogue lists its members and their trips, and there is an online database of its members.
Publication: Outside Magazine (1-800-678-1131, www.outsidemag.com) is a literary and practical guide to all forms of adventure travel, covering gear, tour operators and destinations.
* Great Outdoors Recreation Pages (www.gorp.com) lists hundreds of adventure tour operators and other resources.
* Fodor's site (www.fodorstravel.com) features a travel adventure site, basically an updated version of adventure travel information that Fodor's once published in book form ("Fodor's Great American Sports and Adventure Vacations," last issued in 1996, and still available from www.amazon.com for $17.50).
* "Guide to Cooking Schools 2000," published by ShawGuides (P.O. Box 231295, Ansonia Station, New York, N.Y. 10023, 212-799-6464; $22.95 plus $3 shipping), describes more than 640 cooking vacation courses worldwide. The same information is available free on the ShawGuides Website (see below).
* Gourmet, Bon Appetit and other cooking magazines list cooking schools.
Web: The online version of ShawGuides (www.shawguides.com) lists more than 3,600 travel programs (see Educational Travel, below) worldwide, including regularly updated information about cooking vacations. In-depth information is available about each course. You can search by cuisine, destination, time frame. You can also subscribe to ShawGuides' free online monthly newsletter, Recreational Cooking School Bulletin, featuring upcoming cooking workshops and vacations.
* The Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH) (347 Fifth Ave., Suite 610, New York, N.Y. 10016, 212-447-7284) provides information on travel destinations, with referrals to tour operators who specialize in planning trips for people with disabilities. Annual membership is $45, which includes a subscription to the quarterly magazine Open World.
* Mobility International USA (P.O. Box 10767, Eugene, Ore. 97440, 541-343-1284, www.miusa.org) coordinates international travel exchanges for people with disabilities; annual membership is $35 and includes the quarterly newsletter, Over the Rainbow.
* You can subscribe to SATH's Open World ($13 per year) without joining SATH.
* Twin Peaks Press (P.O. Box 129, Vancouver, Wash. 98666, 360-694-2462) publishes travel-related books for people with disabilities.
Web: See listings within categories, above.
* The Eco-Tourism Society (P.O. Box 755, North Bennington, Vt. 05257, 802-447-2121, www.ecotourism.org) lists member tour operators on its Web site and provides tips on eco-travel.
* The Green Hotels Association (713-789-8889, www.greenhotels.com) is a membership of properties committed to instituting ecologically sound practices in their hotels; its Web site lists member hotels.
* The 1992 book "Eco-Journeys: The World Guide to Ecologically Aware Travel and Adventure," by Stephen Foehr (Noble Press), offers information on hundreds of ecotourism adventures worldwide and is available from www.amazon.com for $14.95.
* The current (September-October) issue of the National Audubon Society magazine, Audubon (one-year subscription $20; 1-800-274-4201), lists the top 10 ecologically sensitive lodges around the world. The magazine's Web site (see below) is also helpful.
* The Natural Traveler, www.naturaltraveler.com, is a free monthly Internet newsletter featuring eco-destinations.
* The Web site of the Ecotravel Center, www.ecotour.org, sponsored by Conservation International, lists eco-tour operators, lodges and resources.
* Audubon magazine's site, www.audubon.org, describes trips offered by various tour operators in its "Guide to Eco-Travel" (this information does not appear in the printed edition of the magazine).
Organization: The Smithsonian Institution's study tours program features more than 360 learning vacations, from a study cruise to Nova Scotia, coastal Maine and New England to "Opera Lover's France." Smithsonian Associate membership is $24. Information: 202-357-4800 or www.si.edu/tsa/sst.
* The Educated Traveler (P.O. Box 220822, Chantilly, Va. 20153, 1-800-648-5168, www.educated-traveler.com), a bimonthly newsletter, covers a variety of special- interest travel, but mostly educational, from wine excursions to dinosaur digs. With an annual subscription ($57), you also receive the Directory of Museum-Sponsored Tours, published each July, and the Educated Traveler's Directory of Special Interest Travel (available without subscription for $12.95).
* The Directory of Museum-Sponsored Tours is especially helpful and includes 118 museums throughout the U.S., Canada and Britain. Programs offered by individual museums are all over the map, geographically and interest-wise.
* Transitions Abroad Publishing (1-800-293-0373, www.transitions- abroad.com) publishes a bimonthly magazine ($24.95 for 6 issues), Transitions Abroad, a Guide to Work, Study and Travel Overseas. The company also publishes the Alternative Travel Directory 1999 ($19.95), a compendium of more than 2,000 study abroad programs, in recreational, professional and volunteer options.
Web: In addition to the sites listed above, the ShawGuides site (see Cooking Vacations, above), www.shawguides.com, lists more than 3,600 travel options, including a category for educational travel that describes 163 programs, as well as photography camps, water sports schools, language vacations and more.
FAMILY TRAVEL Publications:
* Family travel guidebooks for specific destinations abound in travel book stores; Frommer's and Fodor's are among those publishing a family travel guide series, as well as general advice books for traveling with kids.
* Family Travel Forum (891 Amsterdam Ave., New York, N.Y. 10025, 1-888-383-6786, www.familytravel forum.com) publishes a newsletter you can receive by mail or access online to read tips on travel with children, staff-written travel articles and subscribers' stories about particular destinations. Each issue covers a specific theme, from traveling with teens to intergenerational travel. Annual membership is $48; subscription to online service alone is $28 annually or $2.95 monthly.
Web: Family Travel Times (www.familytraveltimes.com, 1-888-822-4388 or 212-477-5524, $39 for six issues), an online bimonthly newsletter, offers resource, planning and destination information for families.
* As a general rule, when dealing with a travel agency, cruise line, visitors bureau, hotel or any other organization or property you contact regarding family reunions, ask if there's a family reunion specialist; not all places have them, but many do.
* To rent a condo, house or villa for your reunion, try Condominium Travel Associates, CTA 33 Union City Rd., Suite 2B, Prospect, Conn. 06712, 1-800-492-6636, www.condotravel.com., a countrywide network of travel agencies specializing in condo and villa rentals at family resorts.
* The newsletters listed above for family travel (see above) cover family reunion stories occasionally. (You have to subscribe to read the stories.) You can also use Family Travel Forum's online forum to exchange information with other subscribers about family reunions and other topics.
* Reunions Magazine (1-800-373-7933 or 414-263-4567, www.reunionsmag.com, $24 per year), a quarterly available by subscription, reports on reunion planning, including recommended destinations. You can view a current issue online for free. A workbook and catalogue comes with a subscription, or you can purchase them without subscription for $10.
Organization: The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) (1-800-448-8550, www.iglta.org) maintains a list of gay-friendly hotels, travel agents and tour operators, which non-members can read without charge, either online or in printed form.
* A number of gay and lesbian travel guidebooks are available at bookstores, including "Gay Travel A to Z" ($16, from Ferrari International Publishing, which publishes other gay and lesbian travel books, see www.q-net.com), and Fodor's series of gay guides to various destinations.
* Our World (1-800-850-5951, $35 per year, www.pimps.com/ourworld) is a monthly travel magazine for gays and lesbians with info on accommodations and destinations.
* Out and About (1-800-929-2268, www.outandabout.com, $49 per year) is a monthly newsletter covering gay-friendly hotels, clubs, restaurants, gyms and shops.
Publications: All of the golf magazines, Golf Magazine and Golf Digest among them, include advertisements for golf travel packages; experts say that Golf Magazine's golf and travel articles are probably the best and most frequently published.
* Golf Travel Online (www.gto.com) is a database of international travel for golfers, including special package information; you can reserve on line or by telephone (1-888-486-4653).
* Golf Magazine's site (www.golfonline.com) features a Travel/Courses page with informatin on golfing vacations.
* Shawguides (www.shawguides.com) offers information about 294 programs of golf schools and camps.
Organization: The Millennium Institute and the White House Millennium Council have collaborated to serve as a clearing house for events worldwide: 202-456-2000, www.millenniumworld.org.
Publications: "The Millennium, A Rough Guide to the Year 2000" ($8.95), available in bookstores, covers millennium activities around the globe, with a history of millennium movements, travel packages and millennium trivia thrown in.
* Web: At www.millenniumworld.org (see above), you can search an index of millennium world events by country, major city and other methods. Also offered is a page of Web addresses (click on "Resources," then "Information about Tours, Treks and Millennium Products") for various organizations that are tracking millennium events or providing services related to the millennium.
Publication: Check out Traveling with Your Pet 1999, The AAA Pet Book, The AAA Guide to More Than 10,000 Pet-Friendly AAA Rated Lodgings Across the United States and Canada, which sells for $12.
* TravelDog (www.traveldog.com) lists transport services, dog camps, dog-welcoming parks and beaches and dog-friendly travel agencies.
* The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org/petcare/ travel.htm) has advice on travel with pets.
Organization: The Good Sam Club (P.O. Box 6888, Englewood, Calif. 80155, 1-800-234-3450, www.goodsamclub .com), whose $19 annual membership entitles you to emergency road service (a service that AAA does not extend to its RV-driving members), offers a reduced price ($9.95) on its comprehensive "Trailer Life" directory of RV campgrounds, discounts at many of those campsites, and other benefits.
Publications: A subscription to the Good Sam Club includes a subscription to the magazine Highways, which covers the RV travel scene. Nonmembers can purchase the "Trailer Life Directory" ($19.95) or "Woodall's Campground Directory" ($21.95) at bookstores.
* The online RV Club (www.rvclub.com) provides information about RV culture and access to classified ads for RVs. Membership is $10, but you can read classified ads for free; to place an ad, you must join.
* In addition to www.goodsamclub.com (see above), check the RV Industry of America site at www.rvia.com for an overall view of the RV world.
* Membership in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (601 E St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20049, 1-800-424-3410 or 202-434-2277, www.aarp.org) enables you to receive discounts on hotels, air fares and car rentals; annual membership is $8.
* Elderhostel (57 Federal St., Boston, Mass. 02110, 877-426-8056, www.elderhostel.org) and Interhostel (1-800-733-9753, www.learn.unh.edu) arrange study tour programs for those over 50 (Interhostel) or 55 (Elderhostel).
Publications: The Mature Traveler (about $31 a year from GEM Publishing Group, Box 50400, Reno, Nev. 89513-0400, 1-800-460-6676) is a monthly newsletter on senior travel; subscription includes the "Book of Deals," with information on senior discounts ib cruises, airlines, tours and at hotels and attractions (without subscription, you can purchase the book for about $9, including shipping).
* "Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures That You Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're Over 50," by Joan Rattner Heilman (Contemporary Publishing, $15.50) is an invaluable source; it's available from bookstores or from Morton Booksellers, 812 Stuart Ave., Mamaroneck, N.Y. 10543.
Web: The AARP site, www.aarp.org, has travel tips and destination information for seniors.
* Travel Companion Exchange (P.O. Box 833, Amityville, N.Y. 11701, 1-800-392-1256 or 516-454-0880), in business for nearly 20 years, matches single travelers with companions. First-timers pay $159 for a year's membership, which includes a subscription to its newsletter and listings profiling single travelers, published six times a year; after that you pay $298 a year. A subscription to the newsletter only (no listings) is $48 a year.
* Going Solo Travel Club (1-888-446-7656) organizes trips for singles to destinations across the globe. It promises to match you up with a roommate.
* Backroads (1-800-462-2848, www. backroads.com) is an adventure travel company that offers 200 itineraries designed for singles.
* The Outdoor Singles Network is a quarterly newsletter for singles of all ages. A one-year subscription costs $45, or you can purchase a single issue for $15. Information: P.O. Box 781, Haines, Alaska 99827, www.kcd.com/bearstar/osn.html.
* Connecting: Solo Travel Network (1-800- 557-1757, www.cstn.org) publishes six newsletters annually, plus the "Single- Friendly Travel Directory." Membership is $25 a year.
* "Traveling Solo," by Eleanor Berman (Globe Pequot Press, 1999, $16.95), offers advice and vacation ideas for the single traveler.
Organization: The Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) is a valuable resource for travel in this country and abroad. Its International Student Identity Card ($20) is good for discounts on rail passes, plane tickets and other travel; health and life insurance; and access to a help line. The CIEE operates Council Travel Service (1-800-226-8624, www.ciee.org), a travel agency for students with offices in major cities worldwide.
* "Peterson's Study Abroad" ($29.95 from Peterson's Publishing Co., 202 Carnegie Center, P.O. Box 2123, Princeton, N.J. 08543, 1-800-338-3282, www.petersons. com) lists more than 1,700 semester and year-abroad courses for high school and college students.
* "Academic Year Abroad 1999-2000" ($42.95 plus shipping from the Institute of International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017, 1-800-445- 0443) lists 2,700 study-abroad programs for high school and college students.
Web: STA Travel (1-800-781-4040, www.statravel.com) offers information on student air fares on domestic and international flights. STA is a travel agency, so beware, it's aggressive in trying to get you to book a trip; just keep clicking on the "Browse It!" option until you're ready to explore booking possibilities. You can also use the site to read planning tips and exchange travel information.
Organizations: Among the organizations sponsoring volunteer and service travel:
* Amizade Volunteer Vacations, 773-973-3719, or 888-973-4443, www.amizade.org.
* Council on International Education Exchange (see STUDENTS, above).
* National Park Service, 202-208-4747, www.nps.gov/htdocs4/volunteer.
* Habitat for Humanity International, 202-610-2355, www.habitat.org/gv.
* U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us /people/programs/volunteer.htm.
Publications: Transitions Abroad Magazine: The Guide to Learning, Living and Working Overseas (see Educational Travel, above) includes opportunities for travelers overseas.
* Due out in October: the newly revised, 7th edition of "Volunteer Vacations: Short Term Vacations That Will Benefit You and Others," by Bill McMillon (Chicago Review Press, $16.95), which describes more than 2,000 volunteer projects worldwide.
* "Volunteer! The Comprehensive Guide to Voluntary Service in the U.S. and Abroad" ($20 from 1-888-268-6245 or www.ciee.org) is published by the Council on International Education Exchange.