As the U.S. dollar dips in value and is worth less in euros, American travelers will have to fork over more cash for hotels, dining and shopping while in France and other European nations. Any trip to France means considering the issue of euro vs. dollar for American travelers.
A traveler visiting France in fall of 2000 got plenty of bang for the buck. At an all-time low of 83 euros to the U.S. dollar, a greenbank went much further than it does today. An awful lot has changed since then.
- If you visited Paris for a week, and stayed in a 200-euro-a-night room, that same room would cost you $448 more today than it did when the euro was at its low.
- Even little things add up. A week of dinners for two at 30 euros a pop would sap an extra $68 from your bank account.
If you have a trip planned soon, there are some tactics you can use to ease the pinch:
- Prepare your vacation budget assuming the worst. Yes, the dollar's value could improve, but don't count on it. Look at the latest exchange rate and add 10 percent to be safe. That way you won't come up short, or come home broke. And if the situation is better, that is more money for gourmet meals and souvenirs.
- Search that much harder for bargains in lodging, usually the biggest expense. A slight jump in the euro's value could hit your wallet hard. Perhaps you could book a modest room at a nice hotel, and ask to switch to an upgrade if the date gets close and rates are more favorable. You can find several deals at the France For Visitors' Steals & Deals page (see link at the top right of this page, under Related Resources).
- Be sure you are getting the best exhange rate. Avoid changing money at airports or from "burea de change" offices in France. Instead, change some carrying cash at your bank (be sure to contact them a couple weeks ahead of time, since some banks need to order currency, and to check for their rate and fees).
Some of the best rates are also had by withdrawing money from ATM machines or using your credit card. Again, check with your bank to see what their policy is.