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Stronger Dollar Puts Vacations Within Reach

Less than a year ago, travelers from overseas were flocking to the U.S. to take advantage of a weak dollar. Now the tables have turned. Economic turmoil has sapped the strength of most foreign currencies while boosting the value of the dollar, making nearly every country in the world much more affordable for American travelers.

"Americans with travel plans should be feeling good," says Tom Parsons, CEO of discount travel Web site Bestfares.com. "Their buying power is strong again."

The dollar's surge has brought ever-popular, and notoriously expensive, destinations in the U.K. and Europe back into reach. The euro recently hit a 2 ½-year low against the dollar, trading at $1.29, and the British pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar in five years: $1.62. It costs 12 euros to take an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. That amounted to nearly $20 last July, but just $15 these days.

That said, you'll find the real deals in more exotic locales.

Iceland's krona lost about half its value against the dollar during the past year. Now the typically pricey Arctic island is a potential destination even for travelers with tight budgets. Visitors can settle into one of Reykjavik's luxury hotels and take day trips to the island's glaciers, thermal spas, fjords and other natural wonders. A guided snowmobile tour of the spectacular Snæfellsjökull glacier costs 8,500 krona, currently about $72 and $141 a year ago. Round-trip tickets to Reykjavik from New York have recently been selling at bargain rates of less than $500. One caveat: Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are starting to list prices in dollars, making it harder for Americans to take advantage of the sinking krona.

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