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The holiday spots that became pricier since the dive of the euro

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#MagicMonday: Joe Walsh Tours has special offers on May/June departures to Mauritius. Photo: Tamassa resort.

#MagicMonday: Joe Walsh Tours has special offers on May/June departures to Mauritius. Photo: Tamassa resort.

Tom Haliday cartoon

Tom Haliday cartoon

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#MagicMonday: Joe Walsh Tours has special offers on May/June departures to Mauritius. Photo: Tamassa resort.

Irish holidaymakers who like to travel outside the eurozone could find it almost a third more expensive on the ground when on holiday this year, compared to last - because of the dramatic decline of the euro.

The United States, Sweden, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Emirates, South Africa, Britain and Canada have, in particular, become much more expensive for the Irish to visit because currencies in those countries have gained so much ground on the euro over the last year, according to the international foreign exchange broker, Transfermate.

The euro went into freefall last January - when the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, pressed the button to start money printing. As the euro's decline is expected to continue, choose your holiday destination wisely this year - because if you're travelling outside the eurozone, your euro is unlikely to stretch as far as it did this time last year.

For example, if you were in the Big Apple in March last year, €100 would have bought you about US$139. Earlier this month however, €100 would have only bought you US$108.

Transfermate checked how much of a local currency your euro would have bought on March 9, 2014 - and compared this to March 9, 2015.

It found that the euro was about 28pc stronger than the US dollar, Hong Kong dollar (HK$), Swedish krona, Thai baht and the dirham (the currency of the Emirates) in early March 2014 than it is today. Similarly, in early March 2014, the euro was about 16pc stronger than British sterling, 14pc more valuable than the South African rand, 13pc higher than the Canadian dollar and 9pc stronger than the Japanese yen.

It has, therefore, become far more expensive for Irish people to buy local currencies in those countries. So, if your budget for holiday spending money is the same this year as last, you will have less money to spend on the ground if visiting one of these countries - by the time you have converted your euro.

You may, therefore, have to rethink your weekend away to London for example - €100 would have only bought you stg£71 earlier this month compared to stg£83 in early March 2014. That trip to Disneyland in Hong Kong might also have to be put off - you'll only get HK$841 for €100 today compared to about HK$1,077 a year ago.

Those planning a holiday down under will also see their euro stretch less this year than last, as will newlyweds heading to popular honeymoon destinations.

"Honeymoon destinations such as the Maldives, Mauritius, South East Asia will all be more expensive on the ground," said Jonathan Bridge, a spokesman for the travel agents, Trailfinders. "Clearly, the US and many countries who have pegged their currencies to the US$ will be more expensive on the ground."

So, how can you avoid having the weak euro eat into your holiday budget?

One way to do so is to travel within the eurozone - as clearly, you won't have to convert your euro if you do so.

Otherwise, choose a holiday destination where the local currency hasn't gained that much ground against the euro. Serbia and Croatia, for example, could be worth considering as holiday destinations as the amount of local currency you can buy with your euro there is similar to this time last year. Turkey too could be an option. "The euro is more or less unchanged against the Turkish lira," said Tanya Airey of the travel agents, Sunway.

The latest hostage crisis in Tunisia could make it the last spot you wish to visit - but its dinar hasn't gained much ground on the euro over the last year either.

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Booking and paying for excursions and trips in advance can also shield your holiday budget from any battering which the euro might take before your trip starts.

"One of the best ways to make your money stretch further is to book in advance for excursions, car rental, theatre shows, parking and a range of other services," said Barry Dowling, managing director of Transfermate. "These all add up and you don't have to fork out as much if you do it online."

Buying your foreign currency in advance can also be a good idea - as long as you buy when the euro has a strong position against that currency. You will need to keep an eye on foreign exchange rates so that you are ready to buy when rates swing in your favour. Shop around for the best foreign exchange rates - banks won't always work out best value here, so it might be worth your while considering a foreign exchange broker or a company that specialises in international money transfers (particularly if you can transfer money to the account of a relative living in the country you are visiting).

Be careful too when using your credit card when travelling outside the eurozone. If you stay in a hotel or are using an ATM outside the eurozone and are asked if you would like to pay in euros, rather than the local currency, resist the temptation. This service, known as dynamic currency conversion, will work out more expensive than if you pay in the local currency.

"Dynamic currency conversion not only offers lousy exchange rates, it also includes hidden fees," said Mr Dowling.

"In addition, your own credit card will charge its own foreign-transaction fee on top of the cost of the purchase. In effect, you will be paying double the fees."


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