"Travel is glamorous, only in retrospect."
That's how veteran travel writer Paul Theroux put it, and few today would argue with that characterization.
Check-in at any airport can be frustrating, stressful and, yes, time-consuming. Planes are jammed, usually at full capacity, with more people toting carry-on bags to avoid new luggage fees.
Your reward? Higher fares — about 14 percent more for the average U.S. ticket than a year ago. (A large part of that has to do with higher energy costs.) Depleted airline staff. And no free on-board drinks or food.
Meanwhile highways to the beach and the mountains are crowded, even if they've been repaved. Tolls have been raised and, well, yes, high gasoline prices make this alternative less than alluring.
But, hey, travel isn't so much about getting there, as it is being there — and the stories and memories we bring home. Who doesn't like to talk about travel?
Heading into the summer of 2011, Americans are certainly in need of a good vacation and the ranks of the travel sector in need of steady work.
Some 13.2 million people work in the hospitality and leisure sector with another 381,831 employed by airlines. Employment is not back to pre-recession levels.