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Traveling? Ways Around the Diminished Dollar when You Get There

Here’s more from our savvy traveler Susan, who fills us in on some smart ways to deal with the diminished dollar when you finally arrive at your destination …

You’ve arrived. (That cab from Heathrow to London at $150+ dollars hasn’t helped your mood!) Here are some tips to make the diminished dollar a little more palatable (and while these ideas are focused on Europe, many apply wherever your are) …

1) Check for Tourist Packages for Transportation/Museum Entries, etc.
Practically every city offers some sort of package that covers use of public transportation and/or reduced cost entry to museums and other institutions. Some of these make sense; some do not. Rick Steve’s always provides an excellent analysis of the options in his guidebooks – as his focus is low cost travel. Note: Even if you do not buy a tourist package, always check for the best deal when using public transportation. Example: London has a one-day pass (as well as multiple day passes) for unlimited use of the tube; Venice offers a one-day or three-day pass for unlimited use of the vaporetto system.

2) Eat Lunch/Snack at Dinner
Most good restaurants worldwide offer great lunch menus that are fabulous values compared to dining in the same establishment at night. If you stick with your main meal at dinnertime, always check the set menu, if offered, as it will always be the better value. Tip: Regardless of when you eat, if heading for London, check out Top Table, which is a reservation service similar to Open Table in the U.S. It has “offers” for reduced dining, sometimes 50% off at selected restaurants if booked through their site. The site also covers the rest of the UK and some of Europe, but the offers for London are plentiful, and particularly tempting given the bad situation with the pound. Many of the discounts are for good restaurants — we use it often, but not exclusively. Also in London, check for pre-theatre menus – if you can stand eating a bit earlier they are a good value too. We sometimes go for them, but then explain that we are not in a rush and are treated quite well despite our cheaper meal (totally hip and fabulous Amaya in Belgravia has a great pre-theater menu).

3) Travel with Friends

If you have like-minded friends, travel with them and share the costs of a car rental, apartment rental, etc.


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1 Comment
Adrianne says: May 22nd, 2008 at 10:06 am

For true budget travelers to the U.K., when you arrive at Heathrow, take the Underground into the heart of London. For a 3 pound deposit, buy an Oyster Card and take the Piccadilly Line or connecting lines to your destination. We arrived on a Saturday morning in April and when we swiped our cards at the Russell Square exit, it seemed our off-peak fare was a mere 2 pounds (less than $5)! The British Oyster “smartcard” system apparently did continuous calculations so we never spent more than 4 pounds 80 pence on unlimited daily public transportation in London. I was delighted to see that sometimes we’d reached the maximum fare by the afternoon and were traveling around the great city of London for free. With this efficient pre-pay system, when the balance runs down, you “top up” the Oyster Card at machines that take credit cards or cash. Despite lack of air conditioning (announcements reminded passengers to carry their water bottles on hot days), the Underground is very intelligently designed with helpful directional signs and congenial station masters. When I left the U.K., the agent at the Heathrow Underground window cordially refunded the 3 pound deposit plus the unused balance on the Oyster Card.
Adrianne (New York City)

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