* WHEN PARENTS ARE AWAY on business or pleasure, children left at home appreciate hearing from them often. Marriott's Residence Inns surveyed children ages 6-12 to find out how they keep in touch with their parents (by telephone) and what souvenirs they like mom or dad to bring home. The results are compiled in a free booklet that's available by sending your name and address to "Inn-Credible Ways to Stay in Touch," Dept. 955.62, Marriott Drive, Washington, D.C. 20058. Or send your request by e-mail to: Inncredible@Marriott.com.

According to the survey, children ages 6-8 were three times as likely as older children to want toys. Boys were twice as likely as girls to want a toy or a sports item. Girls were twice as likely as boys to want clothes, shoes or a doll. Other items kids ask for include candy, trading cards/pogs, stuffed animals, hats, books/comics and posters. Many parents bring back t-shirts, according to the survey, but only a few children want them.The booklet also lists suggestions for easing the anxiety of separation.

- Before you leave, plan a special activity with your child to do together upon your return. You'll both look forward to it when you're gone.

- Help your children focus on mom or dad's return, not on their absence. Set out pieces of candy, one for each day mom or dad will be away, and let the child eat one piece each day. When the candy's gone, mom or dad will be home.

- Use maps to show your children where mom or dad is. Trace the route on the map.

The booklet also has a section devoted to simple games children can play.

* THE 1996 HARRISBURG-HERSHEY-CARLISLE (Pennsylvania) Visitors Guide is available free by calling 1-800-995-0969. Hershey is home to the candy company; founded in 1751, Carlisle was the site of George Washington's army's first arsenal and school; Harrisburg is the state capital.

* BEST HOTELS. Results of the Official Hotel Guide's 1995 reader survey are in. The guide, a directory of properties that appeal to upscale travelers, surveyed 20,000 travel agents. Of the properties listed in the directory, Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley came in second as the favorite ski resort; the Phoenician in Arizona came in first as America's favorite resort hotel. ITT Sheraton is the best European chain. Marriott is the preffered North American chain.

Other survey results:

Hotel chain offering best value for Europe: Best Western

Most romantic hotel or resort: Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kamuela, Kohala, Hawaii

Hotel with the best view: Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.

* TOURIST INFORMATION ON FLORIDA KEYS is available on the World Wide Web. The address is http://www.fla.kays.com. Or request a free vacation kit by calling 1-800-FLA-KEYS.

* HOTEL SAVINGS IN SEATTLE. Travelers to Seattle can save up to 50 percent on downtown Seattle hotel rooms through March with the Seattle Super Saver package. Nineteen downtown hotels, from value motels to luxury hotels, participate. The highest discounted rate is $125 per night; the lowest is $49. For rate information and a list of hotels, call 1-800-535-7071.