Know your euros

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Last week, Malta and Cyprus received permission from the European Union's finance ministers to replace their currencies with the euro. The change will go into effect in January 2008, bringing the euro club to 15 members. Here's a quick recap of the others: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia.

The switch will make it more convenient for travelers already stopping in nearby euro countries, such as Italy or Greece, to tack on a visit to Malta or Cyprus. For inspiration and travel packages, check companies like Homeric Tours, whose week-long trip we recently featured as a Real Deal, Cypriot Odyssey. FIT Tours is a good source for Malta.

One word of warning: while the actual cost of goods in Malta and Cyprus should remain roughly the same under the euro, we wouldn't be surprised if some local businesses use the switchover as an excuse to bump up prices. (We saw it happen when Italy lost the lira!)

As you may know, the euro has reached the painful exchange rate of 1 euro to $1.38. You can do the math for your hotel reservations and other costs by using Budget Travel Online's currency converter. And you can get the backstory on the economic reforms Malta had to make to qualify for the euro via this article on

Have an opinion about the euro (good or bad?) and what it means for travelers? Share your thoughts!

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