Making the most of AUD in US, Europe

Written by The ReReport

THE bad news is yep, things have been pretty dire for the Australian dollar.

Last week it slumped to a low not seen in two-and-a-half years, sparking uncertainty among Aussie travellers who had already booked overseas trips — especially to the United States, where the local currency is strong — and now face an unfavourable exchange rate that will leave them with less money than they planned for.

The Australian dollar jumped to 71.31 US cents today, a slight gain from 71.05 US cents at Monday’s close.

The dollar earlier hit 70.42 cents on Friday last week, its lowest point in 32 months.

Travellers bound for the UK and Europe may also feel the hurt from a weakened Aussie dollar.

And it’s started to affect our international movements, Expedia’s director in Australia Alex Ozdowski said.

“As the dollar has declined steadily since its peak in January this year, we have seen some slight softening in demand to the US, however, it hasn’t been extreme,” he said.

“Aussies love the US and we don’t see this love affair ending any time soon.”

But the good news is there are some clever, thrifty tricks for ensuring your upcoming trip doesn’t sting in the back pocket too much. And one of those tricks is known in the business as “down-starring”.

“Aussies are savvy travellers and what we are seeing is rather than boycott the trip, they’ll make adjustments and try to save money on-the-ground by down-starring,” Mr Ozdowski said.

“If you look at somewhere like New York, the difference between a 4- and 3-star hotel for Aussie travellers is around $85 a night.

“If you look at Oahu, a super popular destination for Aussies, the difference is around $145 a night. Those savings can go a long way towards meals, sightseeing, etc.

“And let’s face it, in somewhere like New York or Oahu, you aren’t spending much time in your room anyway — it’s a smart way to save.”

Mr Ozdowski said while the exchange rate was not favourable towards Australian travellers, we are lucky in that there are a lot of affordable airfares to the US at the moment — some under $1000 return.

“However, it’s worth noting with oil prices rising, which can account for 20 to 30 per cent of airline costs, and a lower AUD, it’s unlikely these prices will last forever,” he said.

“My tip would be to lock your flights in now for peace of mind.”

Another clever idea is knowing the cost of common items on the ground in relatable Australian prices, so you can wisely avoid unnecessary things that chew up too much travel money.

For comparison, over the past week, this is what a Starbucks cappuccino, a four-star hotel room, an average lunch, a beer and a two-day city pass cost in New York City, London and Paris, with all prices in Australian dollars:


NYC: $5.05

London: $4.60

Paris: $6.35

4-STAR HOTEL ROOM (Jan-June 2018 average)

NYC: $412

London: $324

Paris: $358

LUNCH (Based on cost of living index)

NYC: $23

London: $21

Paris: $24

BEER (Based on cost of living index)

NYC: $11

London: $10

Paris: $10


NYC: $267

London: $175

Paris: $213

“When thinking about your spending money, it’s worth doing some research to see how much everyday things cost — coffee, meals, transport, etc,” Mr Ozdowski said.

“This will ensure you can budget effectively so you can enjoy your holiday and not stress about money.”

Mr Ozdowski said there were a few other tips travellers could use to stop their travel money disappearing too quickly, especially in the US.


If you’ve booked your trip with a long lead time, start watching the currency.

“Whilst it’s impossible to predict what will happen if it rises to a rate you’re happy with, consider converting money at that time,” he said.


It’s hard constantly converting local prices to the Aussie dollar on the go. But it’s really important to have a grip on real prices.

“Develop a plan for working out how much $1, $10, $50 and $100 equates to in AUD to give you a rough guide,” Mr Ozdowski said.

“There are a number of calculators and currency conversion sites you can use on the go to help you along the way.”


“If you’re concerned about the dollar going down, book as much as you can upfront for peace of mind,” he said.


Look out for freebies when you book accommodation, such as in-house spa treatments or complimentary breakfasts, which will save a lot of money.

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