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Popular travel guide book series Lonely Planet has released their lists of “Top Ten Countries” and “Top Ten Cities” for the coming year.

Some of these “hot” destinations will be out of reach for most of us (Malaysia, Nepal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.) but some are surprisingly accessible. According to the experts, this just might be the year to visit Germany, Greece, Portugal, Charleston (South Carolina), or Cork (Ireland).

I’m especially pleased to see two of my planned 2010 destinations on the list — I’ll be visiting Cuenca, Ecuador in May and Vancouver, Canada in July!

And, if you’re interested in the “Best Value Destinations” for 2010, Lonely Planet has a list for that too. It includes such popular spots as Mexico, London and Las Vegas. I absolutely concur that there are bargains to be found in all three of those destinations, so give me a call and we’ll have you on your way!

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In any other year, if a client called me now, in mid-June, talking about going to Europe this summer (meaning, within the next six weeks or so), I would laugh. But this is a crazy year and I’ve been working on LOTS of last-minute trips for clients headed to Paris, London, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The economy, the swine flu scare, the recent glut of new hotels, resorts and cruise ships, and the airlines’ pricing strategies have combined to create a “perfect storm” for summer travel deals. And procrastinators are reaping the benefits!

This article on cnn.com sums it up nicely — and includes some excellent advice on how to best take advantage of this buyer’s market: 

Navigating the deals and best steals can be overwhelming, which is why turning to a travel agent for help can make a difference. A travel agent, for example, can sift through all the options, often secure different packages and can help prospective travelers figure out what destination is best for them.

“If you go to a professional, they can tell you what the traditional prices are … and give you some good old-fashioned advice,” said Ruthanne Terrero, a vice president in charge of content at The Travel Group.

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