Take a vacation, on the government


Wanna get away? With all apologies to Southwest Airlines, it's not looking like the travel industry is going to get a boost from Bush's economic stimulus package: Only one in five of approximately 1,000 respondents to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll said they were likely to use part or all of their rebates for vacation or travel, and 64% said they were not at all likely to do so.

That's not stopping hotels across the country from trying to tempt Americans to stimulate the economy by indulging their wanderlust. Until May 13, travelers who book a vacation package to cities like New Orleans, New York, Vegas and Nashville through Expedia's Explore America can save up to 30% on hotel stays. But you've gotta go between May 23 and Sept. 5.

If you're looking for lodgings by the beach, a slew of Virginia Beach hotels are offering their own economic stimulus packages. Among these are a "Romantic Weekend Getaway" at the Cavalier Hotel, where for $159-$319 per night through June 19, couples can get a room and indulge in complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, then take a free one-hour bike ride to work it all off.

If your vacation is more of a family affair, get thee to the Clarion Resort Beach Quarters Resort for its "Virginia Beach Break-Away Package": two nights' stay, tickets to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, tickets to the Virginia Zoo and dinner at Pi-zzeria for $399 through June.

If you are among the lucky few who can take advantage of these deals, I enviously wish you bon voyage. I'll be thinking of you as I'm using my rebate to pay for past credit indiscretions and thumbing hungrily through old vacation photos from my boom years.