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VOL. 130 | NO. 87 | Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Strong Dollar Means Europe Savings

LANCE WIEDOWER | Special to The Daily News

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A trip to Europe isn’t a spur-of-the-moment happening. If you don’t have your week in Italy for June booked already, odds are it’s not on your radar.

But maybe it’s time to reconsider and start checking out airfare deals to Europe for the summer or even fall travel. A strong U.S. dollar means euros and even British pounds are more affordable and making European cities grow in popularity. It hasn’t made this much economic sense to travel to Europe in years.

The economics of international travel can complicate the best-laid plans. A weak U.S. dollar translates to higher prices internationally.

So the recent trend of a strong dollar means great news for international travel by Americans. The dollar has come close to parity with the euro in recent months, the first time that’s happened in a decade.

The latest Orbitz.com Insider Index shows more than half of travelers surveyed said they would travel to Europe if the price is right, and a strong U.S. dollar translates to a sale on Europe.

The Orbitz Summer Insider Index shows six of the top 10 destinations for summer, based on hotel bookings made on Orbitz.com from June 1 through Aug. 31, are international destinations where the U.S. dollar will stretch further, including two not-so-cheap destinations: London and Paris.

In London, the year-over-year hotel rate for 2015 is $274, down 6 percent from $291 in 2014. The average airfare is down 9 percent to $1,201 from $1,308 in 2014.

Price declines are even more substantial for Paris. The average hotel rate is $231 in 2015, a 16 percent decline from $268 in 2014. And the average airfare is $1,079, down 18 percent from $1,275 in 2014.

A strong U.S. dollar is translating to savings of 30 percent or more on Europe travel compared to just one year ago. And while the strong exchange rate for the euro has stabilized since earlier in 2015 when it was virtually a wash, things are still looking great for the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to predict the dollar’s value, so don’t bank on booking an October trip to Greece and expect great deals in restaurants, hotels and stores will remain.

But if you’re considering travel to Europe this year based on the strong U.S. dollar, there are ways to lock in those savings. The trend over the past three weeks has seen the dollar decline against the euro. Currently, one euro costs about $1.10.

Unfortunately there is no way to secure that rate for a future visit other than exchange dollars for euros now. But if you know you want to take a trip to Europe in the coming months, go ahead and lock in those low rates and book airfare and lodging now.

A rising U.S. dollar is the kind of news someone looking for an excuse to travel to Europe is happy to read.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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