Improbably, the U.S. dollar strengthens

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Here's a welcome bit of economic news: The dollar is making a comeback. It’s now somewhat cheaper for Americans to visit many foreign countries than it has been in a while.

The euro is $1.37, as of this morning. That's down from $1.44 when I was in Munich about a month ago and from record highs of around $1.60 earlier this year.

Mexico is the cheapest it's been since 1993 with the peso at .08 cents (roughly 12 pesos to $1).

The Canadian dollar, which crept above $1 in 2007, is back at 91 cents. The British pound is $1.76, and the Australia dollar has plummeted to 73 cents, just in time for spring down under.

Among major currencies, only the Japanese yen has bucked the trend and strengthened against the dollar.

It turns out that even in a climate of panic, ongoing job cuts, and wildly fluctuating markets—triggered by the U.S. and now spreading across the globe—the dollar is still viewed as the safest currency. The New York Times recently provided helpful context, crediting the phenomenon partially to faith in America’s economic and political systems. Consider, for instance, that Congress has already approved a rescue plan, while the European countries struggle to agree on measures to take.

We recently asked our readers about whether their long-term trip plans are affected by the market turmoil, and we received dozens of responses. Here are a few:

John Garretson says that "The Thailand Baht has a very good exchange rate." He's going there for the month of November.

Tim went ahead and bought euros now for use on a trip six months from now. He calculated that a gain of just THREE CENTS of value in the euro in the next six months would totally negate any interest gained by having that money in the bank instead.

Several of you, including Sarah, Paula, Kate, and Stephanie, have decided that now is the time to cash in frequent flier miles.

We loved it when we saw that one reader, Mary Beth Nelson, offered a tip for another reader, Sarah, who had written that she was bound for Australia:

"For the Australia-bound Sarah - Plan on spending a minimum of $80 per day per person in Australia. Our son is currently back-packing/bar-tending/ hostel-staying there and he said in a recent (really cheap) phoneCard call that food and drink are quite expensive compared to the U.S. Consider ride share notices found at hostels and negotiate for extra meals or hostel nights with tour operators. He used Planet Perth for a 15 day Perth to Darwin adventure (all meals and hostels or bush-camping) and they were willing to even throw in a free sleeping bag."

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