Be a Dollar-Wise Traveler

Traveling abroad while the dollar is weak just requires a little extra planning.


With one dollar buying around half of a British pound, traveling to England right now means suddenly feeling as though your budget has been sliced in half. The Continent isn't much better; getting coffee for two near Rome's Trevi Fountain can easily run up a $20 tab.

But that doesn't mean you need to ban trans-Atlantic flights from your future. Traveling abroad while the dollar is weak just requires a little extra planning. Off-season rates to Europe, including during the winter and early spring, can trim airfare costs by 50 percent or more, says Chris McGinnis, editor of Expedia Travel Trendwatch. Plus, he says, "you experience Europe with the Europeans, not with the crazy masses of tourists." Many popular activities, such as visiting the Louvre in Paris or the Vatican in Rome, are indoors anyway, so weather is not a big factor.

Think picnic. Once you're there, try living the way the locals do. Picking up sandwiches at a cafe instead of sitting down at a restaurant can turn a $50 lunch into a $10 one. Staying in an apartment instead of a hotel can cut accommodation expenses in half; arrangements can be made online through local companies. It also means you can make your own breakfast and lunch.

For more luxury, fly a bit farther east. Romania, with its Carpathian Mountain range, cruises on the Danube, and 12th-century watchtowers in the city of Sibiu, offers plenty of history, beauty, and adventure, says David Lytle, editorial director of A seven-day hiking tour, for example, might run $100 a day.

Asia has even better deals. Kristen Celko, a vice president at STA Travel, says despite its popularity, Thailand is still affordable and offers beaches, shopping, and Buddhist temples. Some tours can be found for under $30 a day.

Paying in dollars for as much as possible ahead of time will help reduce costs once you arrive at your destination. Also, check the plastic in your wallet. According to a survey by the website, credit cards vary in the international transaction fee they charge (generally between 0 and 3 percent) for purchases overseas. Capital One, for example, has no transaction fee.

There's an even more affordable option, of course: exploring America. The national parks offer breathtaking scenery at least on a par with the Pyrenees or the Swiss Alps—and you can pay in dollars while you're there.