A helpful new guide to summer vacation planning

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Online travel agency Cheapflights has begun to do more than just sell tickets. It's starting to muscle into the territory of publications like Budget Travel by providing tips and tricks for leisure travelers.

Case in point: The agency has posted online its Summer 2009 Travelnomics: The Traveler's Handbook—a downloadable, printable, free PDF guide.

The most notable feature of the guide has to be its page on new airline routes. In the face of good fares from foreign airlines earlier this year, now Delta Air Lines' presence in Africa has recently been expanded with flights to Cape Town, South Africa and even Monrovia, Liberia. The guide also gives new local and international routes from AirTran Airways, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, and American Airlines, with flights available beginning early to mid-June.

You'll also find a rundown of U.S.-based airlines' up-to-date baggage fees.

What's more, the guide includes a breakdown of which countries offer the best buying power for the dollar because of shifts in exchange rates. (Did you know that New Zealand has become roughly 60 percent cheaper for American travelers since April 2008?)

Plus, the guide names a few free places to explore for families on summer jaunts, like a free Cape Cod League baseball game or a 1.5-mile hike at Dinosaur Ridge in Denver.

Cheapflights doesn't do much for its Girlfriend Getaways section. It skims over slightly trendy New Orleans and Las Vegas cuisine, and New York City's Fifth Avenue surefire shopping venues. But we admit we're biased. We have our own Girlfriend Getaways site.

Download the Cheapflights' Travelnomics report to read all of this summer vacation know-how.

—David Cumming

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