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Int'l Fare of the Day: Chicago to Bucharest $661 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

From Turkish Airlines, fly from Chicago to Bucharest for $661 round-trip, including all taxes, on Turkish Airlines.

Searching TurkishAirlines.com, we spotted seats departing ORD on November 12, returning from OTP on November 20. Itineraries include an overnight stopover in Istanbul.

Other dates are also available for travel throughout November and again from January through March.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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Domestic Fare of the Day: Houston to Los Angeles $153 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

Fly nonstop from Houston to Los Angeles for $153 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

Searching USAirways.com, we found seats departing from IAH on Tuesday, October 7, returning from LAX on Saturday, October 11.

Other dates are also available for travel through December 17.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Holiday Fare of the Day: New York to Savannah $265 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

For December holiday travel, fly from New York to Savannah for $265 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

We found seats departing JFK on Wednesday, December 24, returning from SAV on Sunday, December 28. Flights connect via Charlotte.

Of course if you're not looking to go over the holidays, you'll find much much lower fares available earlier in fall and later in spring -nonstop even!- for $128 round-trip. But $265 for peak Christmas travel is a real steal!

Visit our NYC JFK fare listings for a complete look at current finds.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Chicago to Kansas City $79 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

Fly nonstop from Chicago to Kansas City for $79 round-trip, including all taxes, on American.

We found seats departing ORD on Tuesday, October 7, returning from MCI on Wednesday, October 15.

Other dates are available for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday through December 16, with slightly higher ($85) fares available in January and February.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Foreign Places That Accept U.S. Currency

Posted by Dara Continenza on Friday, September 12, 2014

(Photo: Globe on U.S. Money via Shutterstock)

There are many great pleasures of the globe-trotting life, but dealing with pesky Travelex lines is not one of them. Sick of exchange rates, transaction fees, and coming home with pockets filled with useless coins? Here are 10 foreign destinations where you can pay with U.S. dollars, from the sunny and subtropical to the still-undiscovered.

 

(Photo: Roger Wallstadt via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

United States Virgin Islands

While not technically a foreign country (it's an unincorporated territory), the United States Virgin Islands feel like a million miles away—and we couldn't resist including this Caribbean destination. A speedy 2.5-hour flight from Miami whisks stateside trekkers to the Virgin Islands, where U.S. passports are unnecessary. The popular tropical stop's official currency is the U.S. dollar—handy for those looking to splurge on expensive goods in St. Thomas' portside boutiques. High-end labels like Gucci and Coach crowd Charlotte Amalie, where savvy shoppers swamp the jewelry stores, mining for deals on diamonds and Hublot watches. In fact, shopping sprees are among the U.S.V.I.'s big draws: U.S. citizens can purchase up to $1,600 worth of duty-free merchandise here, whereas the rest of the Caribbean caps duty-free purchases at just $800.

 

(Photo: Baths on Virgin Gorda via Shutterstock)

British Virgin Islands

Much like neighboring U.S.V.I., the British Virgin Islands employ the U.S. dollar as their official currency. This connection makes travel between the two island groups especially seamless—and gives the B.V.I. its reputation as a well-established tax haven. Don't have millions in corporate profits to shore up? You can still find a haven of sorts at the Baths on Virgin Gorda; this unusual rock formation is one of our favorite secret Caribbean attractions (and, aside from the swaying palms, it's a lot less shady).

 

(Photo: Historical Buildings in Quito, Ecuador via Shutterstock)

Ecuador

Ecuador's currency has a long history filled with House of Cards-style political intrigue: First, Ecuador employed the peso, then enjoyed a brief dalliance with the franco, then went back to the peso, and finally adopted the sucre, whose value nosedived in the late 1990s during a near economic collapse. In 2000, in order to stabilize the economy, the Ecuadorian government voted to adopt the U.S. dollar as the official currency. The controversial vote led to the ouster of then-President Jamil Mahuad, but the result was inevitable: U.S. travelers to Ecuador can now use the very same dollars they would at home (although Ecuador produces its own nifty centavo coins).

 

Isla Canales, Panama (Photo: LASZLO ILYES via flickr/CC Attribution

Panama

What's better than one official currency? Two, of course. In addition to its Panamanian balboa, Panama accepts the U.S. dollar "at par" (a rate of 1:1). This means that travelers don't have to worry about exchanging money in foreign airports or dealing with fluctuating exchange rates—making Panama an economical destination, at least for now. In 2014, the nation's large-scale canal expansion will come to an end, opening Panama's pristine beaches to large cruise ships and a surge of value-seeking tourists. So, savvy travelers would be wise to grab a fistful of dollars and head down there sooner rather than later.

 

(Photo: Atlantis Paradise Island)

Bahamas

Like the Panamanian balboa, the Bahamian dollar enjoys a fixed 1:1 exchange rate with the USD (and the two currencies share a name and a familiar symbol, $). Despite the equitable rate, it may not get you far in this popular (and oft-expensive) tropical destination. Accommodations can be pricey, but they are abundant, from superluxe ocean clubs to the family-friendly Atlantis. Plus, the added convenience of businesses accepting both U.S. and Bahamian dollars is worth a pretty penny.

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (Photo: Daniel Ross via flickr/CC Attribution)

Turks and Caicos

Once overrun by pirates, Turks and Caicos is now teeming with tourists drawn to its serene beaches and clear waters. And while Forbes counts Turks and Caicos among the world's top tax havens, the islands have much to offer to the 200,000-some travelers who venture here for pleasure, not business. In addition to its convenient official currency, there is no sales tax or VAT (value-added tax). It may not be the shopping mecca of St. Thomas or St. Maarten, but the island of Providenciales boasts upscale malls and local boutiques, where those U.S. dollars can be spent on handmade artwork and jewelry.

 

(Photo: Martin Garrido via flickr/CC Attribution)

Vietnam

Vietnam's only official currency is the dong (established in 1978 after the fall of Saigon), but U.S. dollars have long been unofficially accepted as payment in this Southeast Asian nation. Urban tourist centers like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer visitors much in the way of museums, temples, sacred lakes, and even the culinary arts; affordable accommodations at dollar-friendly hotels add to the allure. But in recent years, the State Bank of Vietnam has made a concerted effort to limit the flood of American dollars into the already-shaky economy, even fining restaurants for listing prices in USD. What this means for U.S. travelers is still unknown, but many travel resources recommend relying on the Vietnamese dong.

 

(Photo: Angkor Wat, Cambodia via Shutterstock)

Cambodia

We recently crowned Cambodia one of our 10 Places You Should Go While They're Still Cheap for a number of reasons, including its immersive culture and inexpensive lodgings. Not only is the country budget-friendly, but cash is king in Cambodia—American cash, that is. You won't need much of it: Travelers can easily live on less than $50 a day and may never need to change over to the official Cambodian riel. However, Lonely Planet recommends that you always "have about $10 worth of riel kicking around, for motorbike rides and markets."

 

Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua (Photo: Montecruz Foto via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Nicaragua

Another one of our 10 Places You Should Go While They're Still Cheap, Nicaragua has been on our radar this year for its diverse natural wonders and relative affordability. The Central American nation has its own currency, the unusually colorful cordoba, but payment in U.S. dollars is widely accepted throughout the country. Don't be surprised if the price goes up the minute you pull out a stack of greenbacks, though: According to some experts, shopkeepers may charge you a bit more when paying in U.S. dollars. Your best bet may be to carry small bills in both currencies, especially outside of your resort.

 

(Photo: Dock on the Coast of Belize via Shutterstock)

Belize

Belize is a nation that defies simple definition. Technically part of Central America, yet outwardly Caribbean with its laid-back culture and spotless white sands, Belize is a former British settlement that currently holds USD-backed currency. Indeed, the nation has never attached its currency to the pound sterling; rather, its legal tender (the Belizean dollar) has always been pegged to the U.S. dollar at a 1:2 ratio. This makes beachy Belize one of the priciest Central American nations but, curiously, one of the cheapest destinations on the Caribbean Sea.

Note: Though many businesses accept U.S. bills, prices in Belize may be quoted in the official currency or in USD. It's wise to ask your tour operator or shopkeeper about their pricing method before you whip out your wallet—especially since the two dollars share the same symbol, $.

You Might Also Like:

 

 5 Exotic Places You Can Go Without a U.S. Passport

 

 

 

 10 Places to Go While They're Still Cheap

 

 

 

 Secrets of a Happy Vacation

 

 

This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Foreign Countries Where You Can Use U.S. Dollars.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Holiday Fare of the Day: Washington DC to Istanbul $699 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

For travel over the week of Thanksgiving, fly nonstop from Washington DC to Istanbul for $699 round-trip, including all taxes, on Turkish Airlines.

We found seats departing Washington Dulles on Wednesday night, November 26, returning from IST on Thursday, December 4.

You may find lower fares available for travel earlier in fall, or next spring, but if you're looking to get out of town for the holidays (waaay outta town), a $699 nonstop to Istanbul leaving after work on Wednesday sounds pretty good!

Check out our Istanbul IST fare listings for a complete look at current finds from all over the US and Canada.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

10 Tips for Buying Holiday Airfares

As we say so long to summer, it's time to talk holidays. Who's hosting this year? Does your cousin eat gluten? How does one safely pack 12 jars of homemade jalapeno pepper jelly? More importantly, what should you expect to spend on a flight home? Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you shop around for holiday fares. 

1. The more flexible you are with travel times, the more luck you'll have landing a deal. You'l find it cheaper to fly on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day than on peak holiday dates. I know, I know, you were hoping to leave after 5pm on Wednesday. So was everyone else!

2. In previous years, we've noticed that many routes were quite high for peak holiday travel, but a couple of weeks before the holidays airlines reduced fares on less popular flight times, such as early morning departures (those dreaded 6 a.m. flights) and red eye flights. As such, people who bought far ahead ended up overpaying. But it's impossible to generalize if and when airlines will decide to adjust holiday fares if seats are going begging on certain routes.

3. Due to airline consolidation and capacity cuts, be warned that fares along certain routes may be nowhere near what you paid a few seasons ago.

4. On the flip side, in markets where service has been recently boosted (as is the case here), you may even be pleasantly surprised to find fares lower than five years ago. So don't be discouraged by years past!

5. Although you might pay a bit less by grabbing the last seat on an inconvenient flight time closer to the holidays, if you want to choose your favorite seat or preferred flight times, you're probably better off booking now. This is especially true if there are several of you flying together and you don't want to all end up sitting far apart from each other.

6. In general, you can save money on peak holiday travel by taking connecting flights rather than nonstop flights. But since winter weather can foul up connections, you're better off splurging for the nonstop. Unless you're okay with the possibility of celebrating Thanksgiving alone on the floor of O'Hare with a $12 slice of pizza.

7. If you're worried about overpaying and are the kind of person who second guesses your buying decisions, remember that some carriers will give you a voucher towards for future travel, without extracting a rebooking fee, if the fare goes down between the time you buy and the time you fly. More on fare drop policies here.

8. While fares to grandma's house may look ridiculously expensive, international fares are often quite reasonable. Sometimes even in Business Class. So gently break the news to the fam, you're skipping turkey for Turkey this year, or use the holiday to check out some other far-flung place you've been meaning to visit.

9. With peak holiday fares so high, holiday travel is generally a good time to cash in frequent flyer miles, assuming that award seats are available for the route you're flying.

10. And as always, sign up for airfare alerts.

Int'l Fare of the Day: Oakland to Stockholm $495 nonstop, Thanksgiving travel

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, September 11, 2014

For travel over the week of Thanksgiving, fly nonstop from Oakland to Stockholm for $495 round-trip, including all taxes, on Norwegian.

Depart OAK on Monday, November 24, return from ARN the following Monday, December 1.

Other dates are also available for travel throughout November and December.

Visit our Stockholm ARN fare page for a complete listing of current finds.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Dallas to Phoenix $255 nonstop, peak Thanksgiving

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, September 11, 2014

For peak Thanksgiving travel, fly nonstop from Dallas to Phoenix for $255 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

Depart DFW on Wednesday night, November 26, returning from PHX on the following Sunday, November 30.

For those who must leave after work on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you could do a lot worse than $255. Of course if you're a bit more flexible with your travel dates, you'll find fares are lower for off-peak flights.

Visit our Dallas DFW fare page for a complete look at current finds.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: Washington DC to Nassau, Bahamas $201 nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, September 11, 2014

From Frontier, fly nonstop from Washington DC to Nassau, Bahamas for $201 round-trip, including all taxes.

We found seats departing Washington Dulles on Thursday, January 15, returning from Nassau the following Thursday, January 22.

This is a new route from Frontier with service set to begin November 20.

Sale fares are not available for travel around peak holiday periods in late November and late December.

See our Fare Details for booking info.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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