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5 Reasons to Plan a Trip to Europe This Winter

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Missing Europe? Well, happily, this winter is a great time to get yourselves to the Continent – and here’s why:

You could be skiing in the Swiss Alps this winter - for less than you'd think (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)
You could be skiing in the Swiss Alps this winter – for less than you’d think (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

1. The euro is low. Last month, the euro fell to $1.22 US, its lowest value in more than two years, and has held steady ever since; today it’s been valued at $1.23 US.

Today's euro-dollar exchange rate, according to X-Rates.com
Today’s euro-dollar exchange, according to exchange rate site X-Rates.com.

After a brief dip to $1.17 US in late 2005, the euro’s value hit a ten-year high of $1.57 US in April 2008, then fluctuated between about $1.30-$1.50 US until August 2012, when the beleaguered euro-zone economy‘s growth began a pattern of slow decline. Travel to Europe in winter 2014-15, especially to debt-ridden countries like Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal, could mean more bang for your buck.

United Business discount Newark Lisbon
In late January, you could fly Newark to Lisbon in business class on United partner TAP for 57,500 miles.

2. Off-peak and discounted flight awards. Some of my favorite economy-class awards are most plentiful in the off-peak winter season, such as American Airlines MileSAAver award tickets to destinations outside the U.S. and Canada, and US Airways’ reduced coach awards for only 35,000 miles roundtrip between North America and Europe from January 15-February 28, 2015. You can also take advantage of current discounted saver level partner awards on United in business class to Europe.

If you're in London for New Year's Eve you can catch the annual fireworks show at Big Ben
If you’re in London for New Year’s Eve you can catch the city’s spectacular annual fireworks show          (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

3. Europe is full of cool things to do in the winter. From Christmas markets to snow sports like skiing, Europe treats winter like one big celebration. And speaking of celebrations, I’ve spent some fantastic, fun New Year’s Eves in Madrid, Paris, London and Berlin, and can assure you that Europeans do the holiday right!

January through early March, the Park Hyatt Paris has lots of award availability for
January-early March, the Park Hyatt Paris has lots of award availability starting at 30,000 points per night

4. Great hotel availability. Especially after the holiday season passes, you can find a lot of available room awards – even at high-end hotels in big cities. For instance, throughout January, February and into March, the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme has availability starting at 30,000 Gold Passport points or $698 US per night. During the same period (and including late December, as well), the less fancy but very well-situated London’s Radisson Blu Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel – which is set in Bloomsbury, close to both Oxford Street and Convent Garden – has availability starting at 44,000 Club Carlson points or £193($302 US).

Flying short-haul awards on British Airways partners like Aer Lingus is a great way to maximize Avios in Europe.
Flying short-haul awards in Europe on British Airways partners like Aer Lingus is a great way to use Avios.

5. Once you’re there, getting around Europe is cheap. Once you’ve made it across the Pond, be aware that you can use British Airways’ Avios for short-haul awards on partners like Aer Lingus and Air Berlin, or be thrifty by flying low-cost carriers such as Air One and Easy Jet. You could also save a bundle by traveling around Europe by train, especially on major routes like those between Paris and London or Vienna and Prague.

If you need some inspiration for a winter trip to Europe, check out some of our destination pieces on emerging European travel spots, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, BelfastFrankfurtSevilla, MadridMilan, MunichRome, Venice, Vienna and Zurich!

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  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
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