Dreams of the Pyramids haunt your days and nights; visions of Moscow’s onion domes dance in your head; a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa appears in your mind’s eye. If these images or something similar come often to mind for you, then it’s time for you to take an international vacation.But, you say, I don’t have time to plan a major vacation across the world, and even if I did, I don’t know where to begin. There are some simple steps to planning a successful and exciting international vacation.To begin your planning, there are a few big decisions you need to make: “How much are you willing to spend? Where do you really want to visit? Are there things, such as specific attractions or certain quality hotels, that you are not willing to miss?” If you make these decisions in the beginning, you can save time and energy by looking only at trips that really interest you.Also, decide what can be provided for in your budget; perhaps, if you have the chance to see the Russian ballet while in Moscow, you will be willing to tweak your budget a bit to have this once in a lifetime experience.After making the major decisions concerning your travels, you can now decide how to organize the trip. Do you want to plan it yourself or pay someone else to do that?Travel agents can be extremely helpful, but before you choose an agent, talk to friends, family, and neighbors to find someone who has a good reputation with people you trust; also, be sure they are a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), which helps ensure the quality of the services they offer.Travel agents generally know the best deals, and they can connect you with an agent in the countries you’re going to visit if you need help while you’re there; this can be especially useful on an international vacation where you may not know the language.In addition, you will usually get lower prices by using a travel agent; however, a small service charge is often added to flight reservations. Generally, you don’t actually pay the travel agents; they make the majority of their money from company commissions.Despite the relative ease of using a travel agent, some of us still want to plan our own vacations. Organizing your own vacation has become much easier in the past ten years with the Internet boom.Travel search companies such as Travelzoo, Expedia, and Priceline, have made travel planning easier than ever. You can go online and find a complete package that will help you set up your vacation.When putting together an international vacation, however, relying solely on internet research can be a drawback. If you do not know the language or culture of your target country, you should at least spend some time consulting with a travel agent.You will need to have information about visas, culture, and transportation, that may be difficult to find on your own. Even experienced travelers can get into bad situations when they’re visiting an unfamiliar country.In summary, planning an international vacation can be as simple as consulting an agent or as creative as putting together an adventure online.If this will be your first trip out of the country, you might also consider finding a group to go with. Whatever you decide, remember your camera and have a wonderful time on your international vacation!