The Parthenon on Acropolis hill in Athens.
Photograph by John Kolesidis — Reuters
By Verne Kopytoff
January 24, 2015

A swanky room overlooking a sunny piazza in Rome costs a lot less this year. So does sipping espresso, nibbling on croissants, and dinning on steak frites in Parisian cafes.

Favorable currency exchange rates are making overseas travel far more affordable for Americans. Depending on the country, hotels, restaurants and shopping may be anywhere from 15% to 50% cheaper now than this time last year.

You can thank sputtering overseas economies for the more tourist-friendly prices. In the ever-changing currency markets, the U.S. dollar is once again in demand.

Of course, it’s welcome news for anyone who is planning an overseas trip. Some people who’ve been unable to afford international travel may finally be able take that dream vacation.

“It definitely has an impact, and yes, it does encourage people who are on the fence,” said Andi McClure-Mysza, co-president of Montrose Travel, a travel agency in Montrose, Calif., near Los Angeles, that books more than $280 million in travel annually.

Customers routinely bring up exchange rates in planning their trips and deciding where to go, she said. Getting a $5,000 vacation for $4,000, when taking into account potential savings, can be a powerful lure. Currency rates don’t affect airline ticket prices, which happen to be relatively high at the moment. But they can mean savings on what visitors spend their money on after arriving.

Keep in mind that package tours don’t necessarily take fluctuations in currencies into account. It depends on the operator and the contracts it cuts with hotel, restaurants and ground transportation suppliers.

Through the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. citizens made 57 million international trips, or 9.6% more than during the same period a year earlier. A buzzing U.S. economy – and those exchange rates – means more growth is likely in 2015.

Here are a few destinations where exchange rates will make your dollars stretch a lot further.


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