Currency markets are volatile and vary according to many factors, including world events that impact exchange rates. Bear these situations in mind when changing money before or during your upcoming vacation to beautiful France in Western Europe. If there is an election coming up, it might be best to exchange money in advance. Currencies are always moving in uncertain political times.
France adopted the euro in 2002 when it replaced the franc. The centralized currency comes in handy when you're traveling within the eurozone to nearby countries such as Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.
How the Exchange Rate Will Affect You
If the United States dollar dips in value and is worth less in euros, travelers from the U.S. will have to fork out more cash for hotels, dining, and shopping while in France and other nations within the eurozone. Any trip to France means considering the issue of euros versus dollars and exchanging currency.
Plan Your Trip
If you have a journey planned soon, preparing your vacation budget assuming the worst can ease the pinch.
Look at the latest exchange rate and add 10 percent to be safe. That way you won't come up short, or return home broke. And if the situation is better, that leaves you with more money for gourmet meals and souvenirs—there is plenty of opportunity for those in France.
Exchanging Dollars for Euros
If possible, go to your bank in advance and exchange some cash to have on hand. Be sure to contact your institution a couple of weeks ahead of time, since some banks need to order currency, particularly in smaller towns. Also check their rate, which will vary daily, and fees.
Be sure you are getting the most advantageous exchange rate. The exchange companies at the airport do not offer the best rates and charge you a fee. Only use these companies if you need euros when arriving in France and you are not sure how easy it is to obtain the currency elsewhere immediately.
In addition, try not to change money at your hotel unless you can easily see what the rate is. This will usually cost you more.
Obtaining Euros From the ATM
Usually, the best way to get euros is by using your ATM debit card—when you get money processed immediately at a fair rate. But you will probably be paying the ATM transaction fee; an increasing number of banks charge a fee for any international transactions.
Research in advance whether it is better to use your debit card or your credit card, as the charges will vary. Check with your bank and credit card provider to see what their policies are before setting off. Some travel-oriented credit cards wave international transaction fees, and debit cards that reimburse a certain number of transaction fees can come in handy on a trip to France.
Saving Money on Your Trip
With some advance planning, you can travel on a budget in France, like anywhere. Keeping an eye on your expenditures such as meals, transportation, and outings can help you save money. If you have some flexibility with travel dates, locations, and lodging, it's even easier to explore without spending a fortune.
It's worth an extensive search for lodging bargains, as that can often be the biggest expense. A slight jump in the euro's value could hit your wallet hard. One strategy is to book a modest room at a good hotel that's centrally located, and if rates become more favorable, you can explore an upgrade to a different room.