In some respects, this is post 9/11 redux for the travel industry. The economic squeeze has put a major crimp in flying, cruising and staying at hotels. "But what's bad for the industry is good for consumers," says Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity. "There are deals everywhere and on everything." American Airlines and AirTran, for example, now have certain domestic round trip fares for less than $100. The average domestic flight is 9% cheaper than last year; international flights are down 6.5%. Aer Lingus was recently booking round trips from New York to many parts of Europe for $506 for travel before June 15. Such prices will not stick, Brown says, because United, American and Delta are cutting routes next fall to get prices back up. Hotels rates are down too, by at least 15% in places like Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco. Many hotels and resorts are offering state rooms and spa credits or even an extra night at no extra charge. Meanwhile, the cruise industry hasn't been in such discount mode for years and is now reducing deposits, suspending fuel supplements, upgrading rooms for free, offering spa and other on-board credits and letting kids travel for free. Pricing is down about 20%. The deals are so attractive that, Brown says, "it's a good time for people who have never cruised to give it a try and see if they like it."
See Time.com/Travel for city guides, stories and advice.
See 50 authentic American travel experiences.