Euro Declines, Plan Your Vacation Now?

The euro hit a four-year low yesterday over fears of a mounting debt crisis in Europe. It was valued at $1.23, down from $1.43 at the beginning of the year. One year ago, it was worth $1.35. Not to be outdone, the British pound has declined rapidly as well, reaching a 13-month low of $1.44.

So far today, the euro is up a little bit, but the pound is still down. This news may likely be a sign of tough times ahead for Europe, but for the immediate future, it could be a boon to American travelers. With the dollar surging abroad, this may be the best time to plan a vacation to Europe, but there are a few things you should know.

“All eyes have been on the greenback over the past few days, and this is making travelers break out their calculators to determine just how cheap a European vacation will be this summer,” Jennifer Gaines, a contributing editor at Travelocity, told MainStreet. “A stronger American currency does equal savings on the ground in Europe, but travelers should expect to pay more for their airfare and hotel stays this year.”

Travelocity crunched some numbers and found that the average cost of airfare right now to and from Western Europe is $1,322, compared with just $1,059 last summer. (It’s worth noting that this isn’t unique to Europe. Orbitz.com found that the average price of International flights outside North America has increased $200 from the same time last year.) Similarly, even the cities with the best hotel deals still show a price increase of anywhere from 9% to 22%.

Still, Gaines argues Europe is a great deal right now, all things considered. “In terms of airfare and hotel rates, last summer was the year of rock bottom prices to Europe, but this year is still a fantastic bargain when you compare travel costs to prices in 2008,” she said.

While the prices may seem steep, the currency devaluation certainly helps. “If you traveled to Europe six months ago, a 5-night stay in a hotel room at a rate of 100 euros per night would cost 500 euros or about $750. But if you travel there now, that same stay would cost you only $620,” CNN Money reports. With the extra money, you could buy yourself a lot of delicious food and souvenirs, which, as Gaines noted, will likely be cheaper now.

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