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Euros (Photo: Index Open)

With the value of the euro lower than in the past, I've been able to experience Europe without as much of a strain on my wallet. I'm enjoying thinking of the euro as being worth a buck—whether or not that's the official exchange rate.

The euro is used in 19 countries throughout the continent. That means more than 300 million Europeans have the same coins jangling in their pockets. For them, the euro's lower value is unwelcome news. But for Americans, this is a great opportunity to visit Europe. There's no better time to splurge on a room with a view in Venice or slip a cheese course in before dessert during that Parisian dinner.

But even with a little more cash in your pockets, the rules of traveling smartly remain the same. When it comes to money, it's all about maximizing ease, minimizing fees, and keeping it safe.

... read more»
Hotel: Key Handed to Guest (Photo: Shutterstock/.shock)

Are hotel marketers stupid?

Having worked as a manager for the Hilton HHonors program almost 20 years ago, I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that they are not. And yet...

And yet, this week I received an email from Hyatt's loyalty program, Gold Passport, with the following warning: "Your account will be closed and points forfeited after 24 consecutive months of inactivity." ... read more»

How much should travelers be charged to change their airline tickets?

As much as $200 for a domestic ticket, and hundreds more for an international ticket, according to the airlines.

Much less, according to two consumer-rights groups, Flyersrights.org and the National Consumers League.

At Tuesday's meeting of the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, the two sides made their opposing cases. And in the coming weeks, the Committee will make a recommendation to the DOT, which is charged with ensuring that fares and fees are "reasonable." ... read more»

This past April, my fiance Chris noticed a typo on his Washington state driver's license. His name read "Christoper." I replied with an outrageous laugh and nonsensical taunts: Christopurr the cat. Christo-per-usual. I was having a ball.

"I need the name on my license to match the name on my car title exactly to be able to ship my car overseas," Chris explained, not even getting into the problems that may arise when applying for an overseas driver's license. "And Washington requires me to go in-person to get this fixed—even though it was their error."

My face dropped. Chris is in the military, currently stationed in southern Arizona for a class with his next assignment in Germany starting this fall. Going back to Washington would be next to impossible with his schedule, not to mention a wedding ceremony this summer.

"So, just get an Arizona license!" I told him. Problem solved.

"Arizona licenses won't be valid with TSA next year," he casually replied.

This is ridiculous, I thought. But as I began digging deeper to find out what the heck was happening, I realized it's true. And still ridiculous. How can an entire state risk keeping its citizens grounded? It turns out, several are doing it. Travelers with driver's licenses from Arizona, Maine, Louisiana, and New Hampshire (as well as American Samoa) may soon find themselves in a bind. ... read more»

(Photo:  Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)

How are U.S. airlines doing? Very well, thanks.

As a group, the 26 U.S. airlines racked up their eighth consecutive quarterly net profit, according to the latest report from the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And a whopping profit it was, too: $3.1 billion.

Total revenue for the 1st quarter was $39.1 billion. Of that, $864 million was from baggage fees, and $768 million was from reservations-change fees. ... read more»

JetBlue launched its premium Mint service in June of last year, between New York and Los Angeles, and later expanded the service to include New York - San Francisco flights.

Boasting fully lie-flat seats and upgraded meal service, at prices well below those charged by American, Delta, and United for first or business class on their Transcon flights, Mint was a welcome option for travelers seeking to fly in style without breaking the bank. And based on a year's worth of sales and customer feedback, JetBlue is apparently confident that Mint will be welcome in other markets as well.

In March 2016, Mint service will be added on JetBlue's Boston - San Francisco flights; and later that fall, Boston - Los Angeles flights will feature Mint service as well. ... read more»

If you've traveled in Europe or Asia lately, you're probably familiar with the wall slots where you slip your key card to turn on the electricity in hotel rooms. In many ways, they're genius. They keep guests from leaving a room for 12 hours with all the lights on and the air conditioner running full blast. As an added bonus, you never have to wonder what you did with your key card when you're getting ready to leave the room. You just grab it out of the slot on your way out and head out the door.

However, for the electronics-dependent traveler, there's a fairly serious hitch. Since you cut the power every time you remove the keycard from the wall slot, you can't simply leave a phone or a camera plugged in and hope that it will recharge while you're out. Because … it won't. It will sit there, powerless, until you come back in, put the card in the slot again and allow it to resume charging. And then you'll wander over, ready to use the device again and wonder why it's still only 4 percent charged. ... read more»

<h2>Escape the cold in the Bahamas</h2>

Sometimes the dark days of winter can be overwhelming, and you just need an escape. There are plenty of warm destinations to choose from, but the islands of the Bahamas lay within easy reach of much of the country, making them a good choice for a quick getaway. You can start your day by slaving away at your desk, and be sipping umbrella drinks on a white sandy beach by nightfall. Many airlines such as <a href="http://www.spiritair.com/welcome.aspx" target="_blank">Spirit</a> offer deals to the Bahamas.

(Photo: Hisham F. Ibrahim)

Enter the Little Debbie "Summer Sail Away" sweepstakes by August 10, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: a four-day cruise of the Bahamas for four people, including air, dolphin excursion, and $500 spending money.

To enter, provide the requested contact information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds. ... read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly. ... read more»

France-based La Compagnie launched service less than a year ago between Paris and Newark, adding flights between London and Newark in April of this year. The airline's pitch:

La Compagnie is for those who prefer a boutique-style flying experience. La Compagnie is for those who want to enjoy an exclusive business-class cabin at a smart price. La Compagnie is for those who are eager to discover an innovative experience in a fully connected plane. La Compagnie is for those who want more freedom in business class at a lower fare. La Compagnie is for people who want to be part of a business-class revolution. And we know you know what we're talking about. La Compagnie welcomes you aboard. ... read more»