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Summer travel guide 2005

Around the world, the more successful you are, the less time you take off from work.
/ Source: Forbes

Around the world, the more successful you are, the less time you take off from work.

While many successful people are often able to combine business and travel, for the most part the opportunities to enjoy a vacation undisturbed by client meetings, conference calls and buzzing Blackberries are few and far between. Therefore, when there is a chance to take a vacation--a real vacation--where one goes becomes more important than ever.

The problem, of course, is deciding where to go. With success comes not only wealth, but a wealth of choices. A week or two in the south of France sounds pretty good, but so does Lake Como, the Costa del Sol or even Nantucket. It would be great to visit them all, but few of us have the leisure--or mind-set--to spend that much time away from the office. To help with the decision, Forbes.com has compiled a list of 60 great international hotels--five in each of 12 popular summer travel regions around the world.

In the U.S., destinations like Seattle, New York and Boston remain popular, but the total makeover of the five most popular international destinations indicates that, in spite of a weak dollar, travelers, particularly in the U.S., are feeling flush with cash and ready to spend. In 2004, according to travel booking site Orbitz, many U.S. travelers stayed close to home, with the five most-booked international destinations being London, Toronto, San Juan, Vancouver and Montreal--in that order. This summer, the top five look very different: London, Rome, Paris, as well as Dublin and Shannon--both in Ireland.

Click here for our summer travel preview slide show.

Orbitz Director of Public Relations Jeanenne Diefendorf says that air-tickets sales booked on the site for summer 2005 are up 6.7% from summer 2004. Domestic air sales are up by 1.1%, while sales to international destinations have increased by a massive 29%.

While this is good news for the travel industry, which has taken a beating in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it's actually bad news for summer travelers. One place the surge in travel demand is making itself felt is in the airports. "I travel almost every week. We're not even into the summer yet, and all the flights are full," says Scott Ackerman, director of customer care at Orbitz, which is a division of Cendant.

With so many people shuffling through airports, Ackerman says, "security lines are long, ticket lines are long and delays are unavoidable." In addition, sudden summer thunderstorms and soupy fog can conspire to cause annoying and unpredictable delays.

"We tell our customers, if you're going east or southeast, to book a morning flight as early as possible. The later it gets, the more likely it is a storm will hit, and if your flight is earlier, you have more flight availability to choose from." It's also smart to monitor the weather in advance of traveling and to check your airlines' Web site before your departure to see if information on any delays has been posted. Also, bring bottled water, food and reading material so that a delay doesn't catch you unprepared.

Hopefully, however, by the time you reach your destination and have lathered on your first layer of sunscreen or cracked the spine of your summer thriller, the inconveniences of modern travel will seem as far away as your corner office, and you can enjoy a well-earned vacation.