If it's all doom and gloom for the Aussie dollar against the US, then Aussies travelling to the US don't seem to care. Record numbers of us continue to pour into the United States, and statistics suggest we intend to keep doing so. Figures gathered by Brand USA show the country continues to be the No. 1 preferred outbound destination for Australian travellers and they're not just retrospective figures. Measuring traveller intent, indications are, record numbers are planning a visit.
More money than sense, you say? Not so. In fact, Ollie Philpot, director of Brand USA, gives five reasons why now's a great time to plan to travel to America.
1. More airlines are flying the Australia-US route, which equals competition. "Some heavy discounting has already occurred among the major airlines," says Philpot. "We're seeing prices in this market across the Pacific that we've never seen before."
2. The cost of living in the US remains cheaper. Eating out in the US is far more affordable than Australia. "Even with tipping, it's up to 20 per cent cheaper, depending where you eat," says Philpot. And even with less AU for the US, the cost of shopping is better. "Particularly in larger stores and malls, great savings are to be had there," says Philpot.
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3. The way Australians are travelling to the US is different. "Because the flights are more affordable, more Australians are going for more short breaks and more event-based activity. Once, going to the US was a three-week holiday-of-a-lifetime for Australians."
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4. Accommodation may be more affordable – even for Hawaii, which is so hot right now with Aussies. "The likes of Flight Centre, HelloWorld and Expedia are starting to package more three- and four-star properties to offset the exchange rate, rather than focusing on four- and five-star experiences," says Philpot.
5. Package holiday prices are locked in. "This is really important: a lot of tour operators to the US have published brochures that basically lock in the cost of the package well in advance. So you're purchasing what was costed six or eight months ago."