While winter may not be the time of year that people think about visiting Europe, it is actually a pretty decent time! There are many places throughout Europe that can give you some warmth and sunshine as well as many other places that can satisfy your snow sport desires. If you have never thought about planning a semi-sponatneous trip, this could be the time for you!
Great Time To Visit Europe!
So, why do I think now is a great time to visit Europe? There are actually a few different reasons:
- For those in the northern US, winter time is really coming on strong now!
- US Airway off-peak awards (maybe for the last time at this level)
- Hotel promos
- Great US dollar to Euro conversion
US Dollar To Euro
That last one, the US dollar to the Euro, is really the part that makes this a better time than ever to visit Europe. The other parts are just the means and motivation to get you here, but the drop of the Euro is something that actually gives Americans quite a bit more buying power. I know for us in Greece (where elections just took place yesterday – that has a part to play in the drop of the Euro), prices of everything have stayed the same while our dollar stretches further than before. When we first got here, the dollar was trading at $1.36 to 1 euro. As of this morning, that was at $1.11 to 1 euro! That is a significant drop!
The one item that has dropped in price has been gasoline. Again, last year, gasoline was costing us about $8.10 a gallon. As of today, that price has dropped to $5.55 per gallon! This is obviously not going to be the same price across Europe but it does give you an idea of how much cheaper it is now to get around Europe. Yes, that is still twice the cost of gas in many places around the US, but the fact that it has become so much cheaper to move around Europe should be a great incentive to explore more.
Of course, there are several promos that hotels run for off-peak seasons. Some hotel promos are in the form of point opportunities (like the IHG Point Breaks – currently bookable through the end of February). While many of those nights may already be gone, there are still some options open for travel this winter.
In addition to the Point Break options, many hotels and chains have promotional/off-peak pricing for the winter season. It can take some hunting around to find the really good deals but it may be worth it! When searching for hotels, do not forget to check into the more local hotels as well, instead of chains. They are typically able to offer better pricing anyway and in the winter it is even harder for them.
If you want to play it safe, just use an online travel agency, like Booking.com, and search for hotels in your cities of interest. You may be surprised at the low prices for many locations!
US Airways Off-Peak Promos
This is the final winter season of US Airways on their own and I would imagine the new promo pricing would match AA’s off-peak chart (40,000 miles roundtrip to Europe from the US). While AA’s off-peak pricing is much more generous for the amount of the calendar that it covers (as well as the fact that it can book that price with multiple carriers), US Airways is only 35,000 miles roundtrip. And that price drops 5,000 miles if you have the US Airways credit card! So, for only 30,000 miles, you can fly roundtrip to Europe on US Airways! That runs through the end of February so take advantage of that for the last time!
Note: If you book within 21 days, you will need to pay a quick ticketing fee of $75.
For those in the Northeast, this last one really does not need explaining as winter storm Juno is bearing down. It could be a great time to think about getting to places of a nicer climate. While many places in Europe will still be cold (think Helsinki), there are several places that still warm. Greece and Italy are two such places giving a decent warmth for those escaping from the winter weather in the US.
Granted, not everyone is looking for a spontaneous trip of this nature, but for only 5,000 more miles than heading to Florida, you could take off to Europe! Between the growing buying power of the USD and the deals that can be found in wintertime, this time could be a great time to visit Europe!
One more positive to visit Europe now – there are many businesses that are hurting right now (especially in Greece) and tourist dollars always help. It is especially helpful during the off-peak season.
Have any favorite destinations in Europe? Thinking of booking such a trip?