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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Safe Places to Travel Include Mexico, Europe

Aired May 22, 2003 - 19:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, ANCHOR: So perhaps you're thinking about heading out over Memorial Day weekend or over the summer, you're wondering where are the safe places to go.
We brought in Michelle Higgins. She writes about travel for the "Wall Street Journal" and she's here with some tips on how to plan a safe trip, also with some of the economy in mind because just looking at what some stuff costs that could be terrorizing in its own right.

First of all, where is it safe to go out there, especially if you're thinking about going overseas?

MICHELLE HIGGINS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL:" Well, it depends on where you want to go, of course.

KAGAN: Let's talk Europe.

HIGGINS: Europe -- Within Europe, you know, a number of travel agents are still saying that Europe, you know, is safe to travel to. There are -- They are also pushing places like south America which a couple of years ago may not have been on the top of their list, as opposed to places like China, where SARS is a concern and a number of other countries where terrorist threats are a concern as well.

KAGAN: Because some people who might have thought, look for a more exotic vacation, might be headed with Asia, maybe not a good idea with SARS, they're looking for alternatives.

HIGGINS: Exactly.

KAGAN: All right. What if you're overseas and something bad happens, whether it's you get sick yourself, or there is some kind of terrorist attack? Where do you go, what do you do if you're American?

HIGGINS: Well, I guess the best thing to do is before you go, check the State Department site, where you can find out about...

KAGAN: Plan ahead. That's a big, big tip. Don't be surprised.

HIGGINS: Exactly. Find out where the U.S. embassy is so that you know you do have a place to go and you can, you know, always be in contact with them.

KAGAN: Or contact them perhaps if you're not in the capital city.

HIGGINS: Yes. KAGAN: OK. We were talking about money, as well. The dollar basically it stinks right now, especially against the euro. I was in France last summer, comparing now it's about, what, 25 percent less for your dollar?

HIGGINS: Yes. You're getting a lot less buying power for your dollar. The buck isn't going as far as it used to, so -- But there are alternatives there.

KAGAN: Such as?

HIGGINS: Well, Mexico, for instance. The peso is down against the dollar so you're actually getting 8 percent more compared to last year than you did then, plus there's a lot of bargains to go to Mexico right now. So on top of the bargains you're getting a deal with the currency rate.

KAGAN: I see Brazil. If you want to go to Europe, the United Kingdom.

HIGGIN: Yes, within Europe if you're trying to figure our where, you know, you're going to get the most for your money, the United Kingdom because the British pound has risen less than the euro has.

KAGAN: Go where not the euro is. Avoid the euro. OK.

HIGGINS: Maybe London instead of Milan.

KAGAN: But let's say you're just really intent on going to a place where they use the euro. There are other ways, perhaps, to kind of bend the system a little bit toward your direction.

HIGGINS: Yes, one way is if you look for package deals before you go. That way you're not, you know, spending a lot more on things like meals once you get there, you've already paid for it. Especially if you can get a travel agent who will accept payment up front, that way in case the euro goes up even more against your dollar. You've saved yourself money.

KAGAN: But your currency in advance. You should do your exchange here. You get a better rate here than once you go over?

HIGGINS: Well, if you buy it in advance and the currency actually -- you know, if the dollar devalues even more, then you've saved yourself a little money money.

KAGAN: You bet.

HIGGINS: So there's that. You can always buy traveler's checks in euros so that you have them already and that way when you go over there, you've already saved yourself a bit.

KAGAN: Very good. Sounds good. Any great trips planned for the summer?

HIGGINS: Actually, I'm going to Mexico. KAGAN: You are? So you're following your own advice.

HIGGINS: Yes. I'm going to go further, so...

KAGAN: Very good. Michelle Higgins, a woman who not only gives good advice, she follows it, as well. From the "Wall Street Journal," thanks so much.

HIGGINS: Thank you.

KAGAN: And safe travels to you.

HIGGINS: Thank you.

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