Many people start planning their summer vacations before Christmas. For those who don't, we offer the annual Footnotes Summer Vacation Guide.
* The concept of paid vacations is relatively new. Prior to the 20th century, vacations were strictly for the wealthy and the social elite. Currently on his Website, www.frommers.com, travel maven Arthur Frommer rants about the "scandal" of American vacation time.
In other prosperous developed nations, such as France, Germany and Austria, employees are guaranteed by law five weeks' paid vacation. Australians get six weeks. Even Brits get four. Most Americans can look forward to only two weeks, if they're lucky. This short-sighted and ill-advised policy leads to a stunted quality of life and a stunted commercial travel industry, Frommer says.
* Not sure of where you want to go? Amtrak offers its "Explore America" program, a 45-day travel pass that allows the traveler only three stops along the way.