Dollar, fares make Europe inviting

I see London, I see France, I see the drop of their currencies' stance.

Last week, the price of a British pound hovered at $1.43, nearly 40 percent lower than a year ago. The euro was at $1.33, a decline of nearly 20 percent for the year.

A stronger dollar is only one travel perk of the otherwise dismal recession. Airfares are falling and hotels are bargaining. That means that this spring and early summer may be the best time to take that much-awaited European vacation.

"If you can take off in May or June, I think you'll find airfares to some [European] destinations as much as half-price," said Tom Parsons of BestFares.com. "I cannot remember when we've had a double whammy with airfares lower by as much as 30, 40, even 50 percent and at the same time our dollar is so much stronger," he said.

As airlines vie for passengers, they have extended their cheaper early spring prices through June 17, he said. Lower fuel surcharges also help keep prices down.

A kayak.com search for midweek travel in May turned up a $411 round-trip fare between Minneapolis and Frankfurt on several major carriers, $544 to London on American Airlines and $626 to Rome on Northwest.

Not a bad time for anyone -- at least anyone not suffering from the very recession that is driving the price reductions -- to see London or France.

Kerri Westenberg • 612-673-4282

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