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Travel to Europe sure costs a pretty penny these days!

 

  City
  Country Europe
  Subjects Covered: Cultural Study
    Language Study

 

"Modern platitudes remind us of all the things money can't buy: love, happiness, justice. Students who traveled abroad last quarter know that money, especially American money, can?t always buy the more tangible things either, like pints at the local pub or a train ticket to Prague. At least not at favorable prices."

...so states a staff writer at The Stanford Daily, at Stanford University, in his article "Students abroad feel pinched by weak dollar". He goes on to say that "...students overseas, especially in Europe, felt the strange sensation of losing money not through rash purchases or poor savings skills but through the overwhelming force of international economics." (For the full article, see http://daily.stanford.edu/)

Wow - that sure sounds daunting - but maybe, looking at the bright side, we could probably all use a few less pints at the local pub?

Well, unfortunately, breakfast, lunch and dinner seem to be affected, too!

The cost of food is just one of the many things to go up in price for USD holders going to Europe. But one reporter for the The Chronicle, an Independent Daily at Duke University, gave her article a different spin - study abroad in Europe as the new American Diet!
In her article "Dollar's fall hikes cost to eat abroad", she declared "South Beach. The Zone. Study abroad?" and went on to describe the plight of one Duke university student whose "dropping 15 pounds was one of the side effects of spending three months in Florence during a continuing decline in the value of the dollar." (For the full article, see http://www.chronicle.duke.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/01/19/41ee25d60714a)

Okay, okay - we get it - everything is expensive! But what can you do about it?

1. On your mark, get set...use those credit cards!
Bet you didn't see that one coming, with all the talk about reducing credit card debt! But most seasoned travelers already know that the foreign exchange rates are often better through your credit card company than if you get money from an ATM or exchange USD traveler's checks for cash, and there are no transaction fees or commissions. Just make sure you pay off your credit card debt back home each month, and you'll experience the up side of credit cards, without the down!

2. Take Advantage of Discounts...
From International Student ID cards to AAA and AARP discounts, every little bit helps!

3. Aren't some destinations in Europe less expensive than others?
Yes ma'am - that is very true. Smaller towns off the beaten tourist track are less expensive than large, cosmopolitan cities. Certain Euroland countries are also less expensive -- on the whole Portugal, for example, is much less expensive than France.

4. Travel at non-peak tourist times.
Anyone who has been in Cannes, France during the annual film festival knows that fame can turn an already expensive town into ridiculously expensive! This holds true for times of year you travel, as well. Summer is especially expensive - July is usually the most expensive month for travel, followed by August, June and September, respectively. Most airfares from US to Europe go into peak season fares between June 10/15-August 15/30. If you go abroad in summer, May or early June travel is the least expensive, or late September if your schedule allows. Otherwise, if peak summer is the only time you can go - buy early! Last minute airfares in summer tend to be extremely expensive, and anything last minute leaves rooms for possible deals, but often probable disappointment!

5. Think this side of the pond!
If the euro vs. dollar gap and the cost of oversee's airfare is just too much for you, but you still need to feed the urge to study abroad again, why not look to our neighbors to the north and south. Few students realize that we offer French lessons in Montreal, Canada! And by no means are they a step down from lessons in France. The staff are all native speakers, and most come from Europe! They also teach ?French? French, as opposed to the Quebec dialects and accents that you'll find in much of Canada.

And then there is Mexico and Latin and South America. Not only is airfare MUCH cheaper on average when you fly south, but the cost of the programs, and overall living is also much more affordable. Honduras boasts our most affordable language programs, in some cases saving you almost $1000 for a 4 week program!

The bottom line - knowledge is power! Being aware of the currency disparity and your other options can help you take steps towards being careful with how much you spend. If nothing else, it will allow you to make the most out of your future experiences.

 

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