Ups and Downs Along the American Road Trip Fresh from her road trip across the country, NPR's Farai Chideya explores what's exciting and frustrating about getting away this summer.

Ups and Downs Along the American Road Trip

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ED GORDON, host:

From NPR News, this is NEWS AND NOTES. I'm Ed Gordon.

The summer vacation period is here. If you've got a mind to travel this summer, in a few moments, we'll suggest some destinations that won't burn a hole in your pocket.

But first, NPR's Farai Chideya, fresh from her car trip across the country, reports on the fine line between vacation fun and frustration.

(Soundbite of airplane engine)

FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:

For many of us, getting off the airport shuttle bus is the start of summer vacation. But dragging our bags down the stairs can be the easy part. We caught up with veteran traveler Daryl Coley at Los Angeles International Airport.

Mr. DARYL COLEY (Veteran Traveler): Every plane that I have been on has been packed and oversold and not just a few oversold, I mean almost double booked. And it's really been frustrating for a lot of passengers, you know.

CHIDEYA: Coley's concerns are justified, says Cathy Keefe, spokeswoman for the Travel Industry Association.

Ms. CATHY KEEFE (Travel Industry Association): Planes are going to be very full this summer with Americans returning to skies. Air travel is continuing its strong recovery, but it's going to be another year or two before air travel volume exceeds the record levels that we saw in 2000.

CHIDEYA: Jeremy Keenan(ph) has already been to Italy this spring.

Mr. JEREMY KEENAN (Traveler): To make it through the checkpoints and stuff, just make sure you follow all the rules before you even get to the checkpoints. And if you can do carry-on luggage rather than baggage check, that's the way to go.

CHIDEYA: Italy is one of the top travel destinations, says Elaine Beno of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Ms. ELAINE BENO (Automobile Club of Southern California): For international travel, London, Cancun, Rome, the Caribbean and Montego Bay are topping the list of travelers this year.

CHIDEYA: And what about road trips within the US?

Ms. BENO: Road trips and air trips domestically, the top destinations are Orlando, Seattle, Las Vegas, California and Hawaii.

CHIDEYA: Beno also offers some tips on hitting the road this summer. High gas prices haven't put a dent in summer car travel.

Ms. BENO: It's always great to be well-rested before you leave. And also it's great to have the car in shape before you leave. So it's really important to check the tires and your vehicle's fluid levels, spouts and hoses before you start off on your trip.

CHIDEYA: But whether you're traveling by ground, air or on foot, don't expect to see Daryl Coley at your favorite summer vacation spot.

Mr. COLEY: Summertime, everybody is usually able to be off and, you know, gone. And I love kids, you know, I got grandchildren and all that myself, but for a nice vacation and some quiet time, it's usually when everybody's going back to school and have to get back to work, then I can take the time off.

CHIDEYA: Farai Chideya, NPR News.

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