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How to Plan a Vacation Abroad: Part One

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It’s finally going to happen. I’m sooo excited! Later this year, I’m going to tour Greece. But before visiting all those amazing ruins, sailing the crystal waters of the Mediterranean, sampling the fantastic local cuisine, relaxing on the sandy white beaches and touring the many museums, tombs, monasteries, churches, cafes and all the rest, there’s going to be quite a bit of planning in the interim. So I thought I’d occasionally chronicle my trip-scheduling preparations over the course of the next several months in the blog. For those of you planning an elaborate vacation — and for those who simply wish you were — here’s a look at how I’m kicking off my colossal planning efforts.

The first thing I’m looking to determine is what’s the best time of year to visit. I’m not a peak season type of person, so I’m looking for a window of time that’s a little more low-key, yet still meteorologically magnanimous. I started my search at Lonely Planet, and according to them, the best times to tour Greece are spring and autumn. The weather tends to be mild and pleasant, and the season isn’t in full swing. Frommer’s agreed, and offered a few more details. They said April to June is a good bet (although that’s coming up a little too quickly for the vacation I want to plan) and that from mid June to mid August it’ll definitely be a madhouse. (And a pricey one, at that.) After the middle of August, September and October were highlighted as ideal times for Grecian travels, as the weather cools and the crowds thin.

So that about settles it. Sometime around the end of September and the beginning of October, I’ll be heading over to see all the wonders Greece and its many glorious isles have to offer. Next steps? I plan on getting a travel book after work today (sure, the Internet is a great resource, but I want a thoroughly up-to-date hardcopy to work from) and it’ll probably be one published by either Lonely Planet or Frommer’s. Although, who knows? Another book could catch my eye. Then it’s time to start contemplating what’s going to go on the itinerary. But perhaps most importantly, now is the perfect stage to make sure my passport is in order so there aren’t any last-minute scrambles concerning that.

Are there any destinations you’re dying to visit? I’d also take planning tips from veteran travelers! Oh, and if you aren’t already, don’t forget you can follow How-to Stuff on Facebook and Twitter. You can also head over to iTunes and download our new HowStuffWorks iPhone app!

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