England is an expensive country to visit, but the drop in the pound makes your dollar go a lot further.
Britain on sale? With the vote to leave the European Union, or “Brexit,” Britain has seen the pound wobble against the dollar. Although Britain is still not as inexpensive as visiting many developing nations, the currency shift may mean you get more for your money, at least in the short term.
On June 26, 2015, you would have paid about $1.57 for 1 British pound. Exchange rates on July 12 meant you would pay about $1.32 for a British pound.
For a stay, for instance, at the Latin-flavored Church Street Hotel, my favorite budget digs a bit away from the London city center, your 90-pound room charge would come to a little less than $120 a night for a single with bath. A year ago, that room would have cost you $141 and change. In a week, you could save almost enough to pay for an extra day at the hotel.
Likewise, a ticket Saturday on the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington Station and back would run you about $48. A year ago, it would have been about $56.
At the Golden Union Fish Bar not far from the British Museum, you would pay about $18 for a large order of cod and chips. A year ago, at a place that Time Out London described as “a gem of a chippie that’s knowingly retro in look and feel but admirably forward-thinking when it comes to the beer-battered, sustainable fish it serves,” your tab would have been a bit more than $21.
Zach Honig, editor in chief of ThePointsGuy, a resource for travelers looking for ways to stretch their travel dollar, planned to travel to London for the Fourth of July holiday, and the stronger dollar may allow him to splurge.
“I’m considering some nicer restaurants, maybe a couple of extra activities, maybe taking a taxi from the airport, something I never considered” before the pound’s Brexit-induced swan dive, he said.
Keep in mind that if you prepaid for your hotel, you may not be able to cancel and rebook at a lower rate, because many of those rates are nonrefundable. But even if you can get your money back, Honig said, your refund will be paid at the current pound-to-dollar rate, not at the rate at which you booked. You’ll be out some money, so you’ll have to do the math to see whether rebooking will net you much difference.
The news about airfare may be better. Getting across the pond has rarely been inexpensive in the summer high season, but that also may change, said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, which focuses on finding fare deals.
Fares have been under pressure anyway because of low-cost carriers such as Norwegian that fly out of LAX to England, Hobica said.
With the weakening of the pound, fewer Brits may visit the U.S. and that means empty seats, Hobica said. Because an empty seat is a wasted asset, airlines could decrease fares to fill the planes coming across the pond.
Watch for flash sales, said Hobica, who had seen some decreases even before Brexit as a result of the tepid European economy.
One big way to save has nothing to do with the strength of the dollar, and that’s choosing the right credit card. Foreign transaction fees on purchases abroad can add 3 percent to your bill, he noted.
If you don’t know whether your card charges these fees, check its terms and conditions or call and ask, he said.