We've received 62 more comments in our blog discussion about the weak buying power of the dollar in Western Europe. (Thanks to everyone who commented.)
Roughly half of you are planning to go anywhere but Europe this year because of the falling value of the dollar.
While the dollar has lost half its value in many European countries, folks in the travel industry have remained optimistic that Americans will continue to travel to Europe. But our readers are suggesting that the dollar has finally fallen enough against the euro that Western Europe has become too expensive to visit.
(E K Kadiddlehopper had the inspired suggestion to European governments: "Implement an across-the-board discount for U.S. senior citizen visitors.")
Despite the worries, dozens of other readers still plan on visiting Europe this year. Perhaps their sentiment was best summed up by Tex, who wrote:
We're going back to Europe, and the sooner, and the more often, the better! We just did a Euro cruise in October, and have another planned for next October. Euro, schmuro--who cares what the economics are? I still want to see the sights! Suppose you get hit by a bus tomorrow and all of a sudden can't walk through the ruins of Pompeii or down the steps to the Trevi fountain or across the cobblestones of Amsterdam--are you going to feel satisfied, knowing you made some solid economic decision? Not me, baby! Gimme the sights, the smells, the tastes, the pictures, the memories of Europe, right now. And if it costs more than visiting Omaha, so be it. Milk costs more than it did last year, and I'm still drinking it! And I'll be drinking in more of Europe, just as soon as I get packed.
If you still want to go Europe, though, follow our readers' helpful tips on cutting costs. Here are a bunch:
Eat as the locals do. Jennifer Katz has found that you save money by avoiding the restaurants that gouge tourists.
Ask the locals for advice on cheap sleeps. Bernhard Wentzek says that on his recent trip to Germany and Croatia, he made friends who were then extremely helpful in steering him towards cheap lodging.
Rent an apartment or small villa. Having a kitchen allows Barbara to eat breakfast and dinner at home, saving money.
Once you're there, take the train. You'll save by purchasing train tickets early and directly from European train websites, such as DB Bahn in Germany, says Bob.
Use public transportation exclusively, or walk. (Tip posted by Bruce Nolin.) And if you're traveling to London, you can save a lot of money on subway costs by buying an Oyster Card, a little blue electronic device that offers discounted rates for bulk trip purchases and an easy way to enter a Tube station, says Eve.
CONTINUING THE DEBATE ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET
The ubiquitous, insightful travel blogger Amanda Kendle of Australia suggests that you skip the most touristed destinations and head instead for outlying places where prices are often lower, such as the lesser known vineyard areas of western Germany, a less touristy town in Italy, and a French province besides Provence/French Cote d'Azur. [Kathika]
Try a home exchange vacation. That's the advice of Nicole, a 30-something mother who says she has done 40 home exchanges. Nicole explains that you stay in a European family's comfortable home while they vacation in yours. It doesn't always work out, of course, and Nicole's recent blog posts detailing a home swap gone wrong are worth reading, too.
Travel blogger Vanessa O'Donnell offers two tips:
"You don't have to bring home souvenirs for every single one of your friends, relatives, and coworkers. Printing photos that you've taken on your trip is much more personal of a souvenir than a t-shirt.
Also, I can not speak highly enough of traveling off-season. Hotel rates are much much lower, and the crowds are practically nonexistent. I just returned from Florence where I visited both the Accademia and the Uffizi, both infamous for 3 hour lines, and had no more than 3 people in front of me in line for either attraction."