Terror alerts or no terror alerts, American feet are itching again. Travel-industry surveys suggest that most Americans will be taking a vacation this summer--though about 18% have scaled back their plans in response to Sept. 11. More trips will be taken Kerouac-style: on the road, on the cheap and in America. If you haven't planned your getaway, you're not alone. Travel agents say people are booking trips later than ever. But now you can take advantage of the trends. --By Belinda Luscombe
How to Travel
--For many, the air is a no-go zone. It's not just the fear of terrorism, which has heightened in the past few weeks. It's the fear of long waits at the airport.
SO Fares are low now, especially to Europe. Shop around, travel extra-light so you don't have to check your luggage, bring a good book for the wait and wear clean socks, in case you are chosen for shoe inspection.
--Because fewer people want to fly, cruise lines are bringing their ships Stateside and offering departures from new ports, including Baltimore, Md., and Norfolk, Va. They're also offering shorter cruises, to such familiar spots as the Caribbean, Alaska and Hawaii.
SO More cruises are available more cheaply. Last year's $700 three- to four-day cruise costs more like $400.
Where to Go
--With flying scaled back, the roads will be jammed. Recreational-vehicle sales have soared. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, nearly 7 million RVs will hit the road this season--all blocking the view of the cars behind them.
SO With roads and campgrounds crowded, your best bet is to look into less popular spots. Instead of Yellowstone, try Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
--Because people are driving and taking shorter, cheaper holidays, many vacation spots, like Cape Cod, Santa Barbara and areas around the Great Lakes, are getting mostly "backdoor business"--travelers from neighboring states or towns.
SO Don't give up on local fun spots, but you may have to settle for weekdays rather than weekends.
--Hawaii has suffered a downturn in business in recent years and has been working hard to curry favor with travelers who want an overseas trip but don't want to risk Europe.
SO It's safe, it's exotic without being foreign and, most important, it wants you. We smell some bargains.
Where to Stay
--Foreigners aren't traveling either. That means hostels are emptier this year. So are some high-end hotels that cater to visitors from overseas.
SO Hostels are cheap--and a good way to meet foreigners without having your toiletries pawed first by airline security. And look into those previously unaffordable hotels; there might be some good deals available, especially for families.