(9 minute read)
London's calling! Can you hear that tune now? I SO can! Love me some London. I've been there a handful of times, each with a different flavor. The first time I visited Londontown was March of 2013, staying near Piccadilly Square at The St. James Club en route to St. Barth's. The highlight on that stopover was capitalizing on a visit with a dear friend who'd moved to London a couple year's earlier to work for Moroccanoil global where she is fully in her element. Many a memories were shared and created. Oh nostalgia, you're worth your weight in gold!
Back to you and why London might be an attractive place to jet to: the recent decline in the pound's value.
Currency exchange for whatever currency we operate in is often a deal make or break depending on the rate of the exchange if converting our home currency to the currency of wherever we are travelling/visiting is notably more than our own. When I say rate of exchange I mean the difference in dollar value.
Historically the United Kingdom's currency (the Great British Pound; GBP) has dominated over the USD, Euro and CAD to a point of near being valued at one and a half times its rival currencies hence making for a costly visit to London/the UK. This isn't the place to dive into currency valuation, though what I will say is, the GPB is looking mighty sexy these days due to its recent devaluation (decline in value against the USD at about roughly 18% at this point in time). When I state USD I mean US dollar, Canadian dollar and so forth.
You guys have got this 😉
Grasp this snack-sized snapshot: it takes $1.22 USD to buy £ 1 GBP. Stating the obvious, the two currencies are not equal. Apples vs. oranges, Nars vs. Tarte. Side note: I really like both Nars and Tarte as brands, they're just different in purpose, function and place on the map alike the United States vs the United Kingdom in relation to one another 😉
Back to biz, this means when you're buying £ 1000, it will cost you roughly $1217 USD. The difference in currency (“exchange”) in this case works out to a percentage difference of roughly 22% and an extra $217 USD. Hence, you're paying a 22% “markup” for every dollar you GPB that you buy. Today's GBP price is attractive considering at the pound's 5-year peak (when it was most expensive to purchase in exchange) at $1.72 USD in exchange, think: roughly a 72% “markup”. This is a percentage spread (and difference) of 50% between June 2014's rate of exchange and today's, January 2017.
So, between June 2014 and today's rate (USD v GBP) there's a 50% difference in what you receive in exchange on a 1:1 basis. Think about 50% on $1000, that's $500. Now take the $5000 conservative dollar amount it may to travel to London for a short few days and live it up. That's $2500 you're saving today as a result of the spread being 50% to your favor (today vs back in June of 2014).
Although the exchange amount doesn't sound like a lot it adds up over time. A dollar saved is a dollar earned and all the merrier to invest with and double, am I right? Think about tossing that $2500 (50%) difference on $5000 you exchanged out the window in June 2014, to not having to sacrifice it as the rate of exchange and actually earning 5% on that $2500 annually. The difference between carelessly writing off that amount of the difference (meaning $0 in the bank for you) vs. earning 5% on $2500 in one year (turning it into $2625 in the bank for you) over time – is huge.
What I'd love you to consider is the thought of saving, investing and smart currency hunting, while you're at it. Saving is one thing, paying down debt is another, working to the point of investing is gold (and a privilege). The point of investing is to increase your initially invested capital at the best rate possible across a specific period of time (performance-wise). The highest return for the shortest duration is the ultimate goal, though many a parameter surround each individuals investment needs, style, ability – and then, there's the volatility and health of the market. Now you see why I'm a nazi about measuring everything? 😉
Back to “so hot for London” right now, and the GBP (Great British Pound). London is one of the easiest places to travel to for those who don't speak a second language. My favorite (between London and Paris) is Paris, as I've spent more time there, enjoy the language and am obsessed with the culture (and fashion). If you haven't been to Europe and you're not particularly enchanted by anywhere specific – head to London.
There are definite ways to plan and save in order to travel and think and spend whilst you're away. Yet another topic for another post. What I will say is that when the currency of the country you're visiting or plan to visit is faring rather attractive, find the best bullion and currency exchange shop and run don't walk and go buy some of that said currency when the price is hot (in favor).
Hot tip: currency and bullion exchange shops will give you a far better rate of exchange than the bulk of traditional banks will. My fave in Vancouver (where I live), is Money's Way & Best. If you're a frequent currency purchaser, there are VIP rates some places will offer and honor. When I say frequent I mean frequent and high purchasing customer (client).
British Airways flies to London direct from many major cities and is a brilliant airline. I use my BA Points to travel when I'm travelling with them. I collect BA Points on one of my credit cards. When racking up dollars and miles, points add up. Once a certain dollar amount is spend annual, I receive a complimentary ticket to use within 18 months. This means when I fly and purchase one ticket full price, all that needs paying on the second ticket is the taxes which I consider a fantastic perk.
Are you currently collecting points of any description on your credit cards? Hit me up and let me know what your faves are! I have a list of my own with benefits and perks I share come future, perhaps in a YouTube video to make it fun.
Back to London itself.
The most recent past London visit I ventured was paired with Paris (Fall of 2015) staying in Kensington and I loved the area. Whole Foods was just down the street from where I was staying, as were a couple amazing cold pressed juice bars which while travelling – always the bomb to unintentionally stumble upon. Kensington is a gorgeous. People live & work there and there's access to whatever you could possibly need. On top of that there were rows of quaint Brownstones, colorful and lovely with palm trees lining some of the home's front walk ways. Charmed. Definite recco on the area. Wherever you end up staying in the city, Italian tapas at this place is a freaking must. Amazing atmosphere eats, and the price is reasonably on par for all you get.
Now about collecting those British Airways points, grabbing your hubs or bestie and booking that ticket!