PERSONAL: Female; children: Gregory, Monique. Education: Colby College, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, photography, ethnic and exotic foods.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—GlobalBrenda Publishing, 755 Ninth St., 2nd Floor, Secaucus, NJ 07094-3321. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Travel agent and author. Amisto.com, former director of project development; held management positions at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Uniglobe, Diners Fugazy, and Cultural Heritage Alliance; GlobalBrenda Publishing, founder; Single Parent Travel Network (Web site and newsletter), founder and publisher.
The Single Parent Travel Handbook, GlobalBrenda Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 2002.
Author of Single Parent Travel newsletter; contributor to Web sites, including Parents without Partners.
SIDELIGHTS: Brenda Elwell is a single parent whose first book was inspired by traveling with her two children. With a passion for seeing new places—Elwell has traveled to over sixty countries and forty-five states—she compiled The Single Parent Travel Handbook to help single parents avoid some of the pitfalls of traveling with children. Together with its accompanying Web site, Elwell's work opens new opportunities to many parents.
In The Single Parent Travel Handbook Elwell explains why single-parent travel is different than traditional family travel. "Traditional double-parent vacations are structured to get rid of the kids so the parents can have couple time," Elwell explains, "but the single parent always winds up as the 'odd man out' stuck somewhere in the space between 'family couple' and 'swinging single.'" She offers advice and information helpful in planning a single-parent vacation, and includes a list of travel agencies specializing in single-parent vacations, age-specific suggestions on where to vacation, and advice as to what vacation packages to avoid.
Elwell stresses the importance of having an itinerary. "In all the years I traveled as a single-parent with my kids, from kindergarten through college, we never once argued about what we were going to do that day," she notes in her book. "Single parents must be twice as organized, twice as patient, and twice as creative to have a successful and fun trip with their kids," she adds. The Single Parent Travel Handbook also includes tips for safe travel and travel to Third World countries, a chapter of anecdotes written by single fathers, and suggestions for involving children in planning and executing the vacation. "If the trip becomes a team effort [and] . . . everyone is involved in the process, it takes some of the burden off the single parent, and the kids quickly develop some very useful life skills at an early age," notes Elwell. In addition to the book, Elwell's Web site, The Single Parent Travel Network, contains a monthly newsletter, as well as articles, tips and advice, destination suggestions, packing lists, travel specials, and a 'Single Parent Travel' community bulletin board.
The Single Parent Travel Handbook was described by a reviewer for the Midwest Book Review as "a warmhearted, 'reader friendly,' and earnestly recommended guidebook." Elwell's work on behalf of single parents has also been mentioned in a number of periodicals, including the New York Times, Travel Weekly, the Washington Post, and Time magazine, as well as on several Internet and television productions.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Elwell, Brenda, The Single Parent Travel Handbook, GlobalBrenda Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 2002.
Library Journal, February 15, 2003, Alison Hopkins, review of The Single Parent Travel Handbook, p. 160.
Travel Weekly, November 25, 2002, Paul Felt, "Niche Singles out Single Parents: Agent-turned-Author Caters to Market with Web Sites, Newsletter, and a Book," p. 12.
Brenda Elwell Web site,http://www.singleparenttravel.net/ (November 13, 2003).
GlobalBrenda Publishing,http://www.globalbrenda.com/ (November 19, 2003).
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (June 10, 2003), review of The Single Parent Travel Handbook.