Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Travel, Buying Tips Help as Dollar Drops

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Travel, Buying Tips Help as Dollar Drops

Article excerpt

Here's some sage advice to U.S. tourists in 1995:

Travel to an economically troubled country where the beleaguered dollar will buy more. Despite the much-heralded plunge of the U.S. greenback, some other countries actually are in much worse shape.

Mexico and Canada, their economic policies in shambles, look like the best prospects for U.S. travelers as the peso and Canadian dollar continue to struggle.

Turkey and Ecuador are true bargains among less-frequented destinations.

Meanwhile, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece also will be kinder to your wallet because of decent exchange rates, according to travel and foreign exchange experts.

"We find a lot more Americans on the streets here in Toronto shopping these days, as well as at the ski resorts in western Canada," observed Michael Maxwell, banknote dealer with Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange in Toronto. "I'd bet that not only Toronto but Montreal and Vancouver will be major tourist destinations this summer."

However, Canada does put an unusually high tax bite on purchases, thereby making items somewhat less of a bargain, he cautioned.

Forget Germany and Japan, whose currencies have set post-World War II highs against our dollar. The shopping and accommodations there will be a shocker.

London remains the most popular European destination, but expect to get pounded financially there as well.

Most major cities of continental Europe carry hefty price tags for hotels, food and sightseeing cabs, so your best financial advantage is the fact there are bargain air fares to get you there.

Increasingly, travel agents suggest you spend your vacation time in the less-expensive regions of countries and not so close to big cities.

"Whenever possible when traveling abroad, use an automated teller machine, many of which can be accessed overseas through the Cirrus and Plus systems," advised Steve Loucks, spokesman for the 25,000-member American Society of Travel Agents in Alexandria, Va. "You can withdraw cash, avoid the high cost of converting cash from one currency to another and usually get the highest possible exchange rate."

Similarly, credit cards also are likely to give you much better exchange rates than you'll receive at a foreign bank or hotel, added David Solin, partner in the New York-based Foreign Exchange Analytics consulting firm. …

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