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Au Revoir, Europe: Strong Dollar Stretches Further Other Places

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June 19, 2015
Bye-bye Europe, hello Australia

A strong dollar is a U.S. traveler’s dream, essentially putting “discount” signs on many foreign summer travel destinations, including Europe. But this summer you might consider extending your itinerary to new borders to stretch a strong dollar.

Why? Because the airlines have got your number; they know all too well the inclinations of U.S. travelers. With the euro at its lowest level against the dollar since the spring of 2003, summer airfare prices to various popular European destinations in online travel websites run from $1,200 to $1,500 per person, making that trip to France still pricey.

And because you can.

So say “au revoir” to Paris in favor of other luxurious and exotic destinations where your buck has more bang. Given the strong dollar, travel experts say it’s time to think about some far-flung summer travel destinations, provided you don’t mind a long plane ride.  

Go Down Under

Like Australia. The Aussie dollar is at its lowest level in five years, finally making that bucket-list trip to Oz affordable.

Try Sydney, where city slickers meet beachcombers, says Lisa Lubin, author of The Ultimate Travel Tips: Essential Advice for Your Adventures and writer of popular travel blog LLworldtour. Flight and hotel combinations on Travelocity to and from New York in late June/early July will set you back some $2,300 per person.

“In Sydney, you get the best of both worlds: a cosmopolitan city plus sunny beach life,” Lubin says. “The largest city in Australia is set on miles of coastline with heaps to see and do.”

Stroll around the main harbor in “The Rocks” and city center neighborhoods to see the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, which you can climb, or just catch a ferry to view it from the water, she says. Or hit the scene on famous Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions. Want to rest? You’ll find a laid-back attitude on Manly Beach.

Find the Wildlife

Looking for more wildlife than you’d find on a beach? You’ll find it in South Africa, where the rand has lost nearly 40% of its value in the last four years. Air travel to Cape Town is now nearly half of what it was, or under $2,000, says Greg Geronemus, co-chief executive officer of smarTours, who’s promoting  a trip there with a safari starting at $1,899. Flight and hotel combinations from New York to Cape Town were available for $1,500 per person at Travelocity.

But if you still have your heart set on Europe, Geronemus urges you to look outside the eurozone and across the Adriatic to the Julian Alps in Slovenia or down the sun-drenched Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Like Europe, they are loaded with history—you can tour the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian—and natural beauty.

A two-week trip from New York to Portorož, Slovenia, at four-star hotels starts as low as $2,500. Add a car at the airport for another $189 and drive down Croatia’s coast to Dubrovnik.

“Why go to Italy when you can have this affordable alternative on the Adriatic?” he asks.

Europe without Jet Lag

You can get a taste of Europe without the jet lag by visiting Quebec City in Canada, where the buck is at its highest level in six years against the loonie. Dating back to 1608, Quebec City sits on the north side of the Saint Lawrence River and is predominantly French speaking.

It’s only a five-hour drive from Portland, Maine, and eight and a half hours from New York City. It’s also the site of the Citadelle, nicknamed the “Gibraltar of America” because it is the largest British fortress ever built in North America.

“A trip to Quebec City is like going to Europe, but for less money and in half the time,” Lubin says. “The charming streets in the historic, walled-in old town are wonderful for strolling and stopping at cafes for crepes and coffee.”

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