Saturday, October 15, 2016

Traveling to Europe? Stretch your dollars

If you plan to travel to Europe in the next year or so, you’re in luck because the dollar has been strong against the euro for months. The exchange rate on 10-15-16 is 1.097, meaning the dollar and euro are almost identical in buying power.
Also, since Brexit, the dollar is much closer to the pound used by the United Kingdom. In fact, on 10-15-16 it’s at a very low rate of 1.219. If you’ve always heard that visiting England is really expensive, now is the time to consider a trip.

Of course, no one can predict what future rates might be, but here are tips for taking advantage of current rates (which seem to get better for Americans every time I check exchange rates).
Purchase euros before you leave the States. Buy as much as you are comfortable with while rates are favorable for the dollar. If rates go up, you’ll be sitting pretty. Another advantage is you won’t have to worry about exchanging money right before or during your trip. Many U.S. banks can get almost any currency worldwide if you give them sufficient notice. It’s easy, worry-free, and convenient as long as you don’t mind having a large sum of cash. Just don’t put it all in one place when you travel.

Prepay tours, transportation, theater tickets, or hotels when you can get a good rate. You might consider prepaying even if it’s not a requirement to lock in the exchange rate as long as there’s a cancellation policy you can live with, or you have travel insurance.
Book tours or cruises now. Even if you don’t plan to travel for a year or more, lock in today’s low exchange rates.  Also, check on whether your tour company will pass along any exchange rate savings that might occur between the time you make a deposit or final payment and when you travel. A time-frame of six to nine months can make a significant difference, and some companies set their rates way in advance.

Pay with euros or pounds once you’ve arrived in Europe or the UK. Although vendors may accept dollars, many charge a premium for you to use dollars. An unfavorable exchange rate is not worth paying, so plan ahead and have sufficient euros or pounds on hand prior to leaving on your trip.
Use a credit card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee. If you’re not sure whether your card does, call customer service before you go—and get a different card for international travel if necessary. An extra three percent on every purchase adds up fast.

Shop for bargains, whether it’s airfare, hotels, or tours. Do your research before leaving so you’re not winging it day by day—and paying higher prices from lack of foresight. Consider alternative routes to your destination city, and use consolidators to compare rates for airfare, hotels, and tours.
Now is an excellent time to head across the pond, so choose your dream destination (keep in mind not all European countries use the euro), and start planning a fabulous trip.

Photos from free sites.

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