Dropout travel

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Y2K fever has spawned yet another market niche, but this one has nothing to do with racing against time or being in one of the dozens of destinations that claim to be the first place scheduled to greet the millennium. The latest wrinkle for agents and operators to get their mitts on is what I call "dropout travel."

This little-known market sector's highest-profile home of late lies in a small Virginia county named Floyd. Nestled high in the Blue Ridge mountains, Floyd has long been home to the dropout crowd, which primarily consists of jaded city-dwellers seeking their own private Walden. With the millennium looming, Floyd is picking up steam as the place to forge a whole-grain existence that depends more on hard work than on hard drives.

Quick thinking travel pros could have a Y2K-No Way package put together in no time: Bus tickets, commune reservations and a couple of side trips to see the local generator or the chicken coop are about all you'd need. The place runs on a barter system, so I'd advise potential dropouts to pack a couple extra bottles of scotch.

What's in it for you? Take the long view. Come Jan. 2, you'll be able to name your price when the folks you sent up the mountain want to come back down to earth.

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