The plunging euro makes European vacations more attractive

NEW YORK – It’s been a dramatic fall for the euro. Back in April, the European currency was trading at 1.38 U.S. dollars to the euro. That means that one dollar bought you about 72 euro cents.

Now the exchange rate is hovering around 1.13 U.S. dollars to the euro, so one dollar buys you 88 euro cents. The euro extended its slide against the dollar on Thursday, dropping more than 2 per cent against the U.S. dollar, after the European Central Bank pledged to spend 1.1 trillion euros on bond purchases to help revive the region’s flagging economy.

The Canadian dollar has also been strengthening against the euro, but to a lesser extent because of the downward pressure low oil prices and interest rate cuts put on the lonnie.

A bright spot for North American vacationers is that trips to Europe are now much cheaper. Thanks to the currency shift, travellers will pay less for hotel rooms, museum admissions and meals out.

“It’s basically a 20-per cent-off sale on the whole eurozone for Americans,” says Adam Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of airfare search site Hipmunk.

There are 19 countries that use the euro. So those considering deals should look at Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

“This is the best time to travel to Europe in years,” says Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel. “Tourists can now indulge in a fancy pastry and chocolat chaud without the budget-busting guilt.”

The catch: it will still cost a lot of money to get to Europe during peak summer months. Demand for travel is so strong that most airlines don’t have to cut prices to sell seats.


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