I know, I know, you’re really busy. You can’t get away from work right now. But now’s the time, if you’re an American, to make that long-awaited trip to Europe, Africa, or the South Pacific. That’s because the U.S. dollar is stronger than it’s been in years against many major currencies and, as TripAdvisor’s 2015 Hotel Pricing Report has found, the price of a hotel room abroad has gone down 7% since last year. The average hotel rate in Europe is down 9%, and in Africa and the South Pacific it’s down 8%. In fact, almost unbelievably, the average price of a hotel room in Europe is now lower than the average price in the U.S.
Here are three ways to take best advantage of this situation:
* Know which countries yield the greatest savings, relative to last year.
TripAdvisor’s Hotel Pricing Report has found that the biggest hotel savings right now will be found in Russia (where rates are 45% less expensive than last year), Ukraine (38%), Sweden (19%), Norway (17%), Poland (16%), Romania (16%), Bulgaria (14%), France (13%), Morocco (12%), and Uruguay (12%). Of course, hotel rates are just one part of the overall travel-costs picture; traditionally expensive destinations that cost a lot less this year include Japan, London, and Brazil.
* Consider those regions that are least expensive during the month you can get away.
Our Hotel Pricing Report also reveals which months bring the lowest average hotel rates to which parts of the world. February, for instance, is when you’ll find the lowest hotel prices in Europe. March is when you’ll find the lowest in Asia. From March through June you’ll find the lowest in South America, and from April through June you’ll find them in the South Pacific. Here’s the full list of where and when the greatest hotel savings exist. Of course, hotel prices vary hugely from country to country and city to city within these regions and time periods, depending on what’s happening locally. And often the cheapest time to go is not the best time to go. It’s called “low season” for a reason. You’ll find the lowest hotel rates in the Caribbean in September and October, for instance, because that’s hurricane season. Still, knowing which months bring the lowest rates on average is a great place to start your research.
* Look into local festivals and fun activities happening during the most inexpensive times of the year.
Low season can mean unfavorable weather conditions but, while there are cons, there are also pros—and that’s because the locals need to have fun at that time of year too. Festivals are living museums of tradition and give a traveler great insight into the local culture, not to mention great photo ops and street food. February brings a festive, charming, and photogenic European version of Mardi Gras to cities and towns in Austria and Germany (where the holiday is called Fasching) and to Italy (where it’s called Carnevale). March brings the stars of world ballet to Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg, in the form of the Mariinsky International Ballet Festival. April brings cherry blossoms, along with flower-viewing parties, to Japan. To find such cultural celebrations in a destination you’re considering, type “TripAdvisor [your destination] events & festivals” into your browser.
Keep in mind, when researching low hotel rates abroad on TripAdvisor—and remember, you can book on TripAdvisor too—that what you get for your money in a hotel room varies from country to country. The typical three-star hotel in the U.S. comes with more creature comforts than the typical three-star overseas, and many four- or five-star hotels in Europe cost more than four- or five-stars in the U.S. that have the same amenities. Keep in mind also that hotel taxes, as well as surcharges for basics such as Wi-Fi, tend to be higher overseas.
Still, the affordability of so many hotels abroad is a delightful turn of events to take advantage of. And your window is now. It won’t last forever. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You’ll find more travel advice from Wendy at WendyPerrin.com