MAYBE YOU’RE still flush with crypto cash. Or perhaps your Bitcoin portfolio is hemorrhaging value amid the recent turbulence. Either way, if turning digital assets into rest and relaxation sounds appealing, you have options. Marko Jovic, a 41-year-old telecom engineer from Belgrade, Serbia, began using crypto to pay for vacations in 2021. He said despite a recent fall in value he can pay for a lot of things with his crypto. “You can basically do anything you want with crypto,” said Mr. jovic.
Now that you can get debit cards linked to cryptocurrency portfolios, it’s never been easier to use digital cash while on the move. But for travelers who want to avoid the extra fees associated with using a crypto card, the alternative is to seek out merchants willing to accept cryptocurrency like Bitcoin directly. Luckily, a growing list of companies, hotels and destinations are eager to do business with crypto consumers. Here, a few up-to-the-minute moves:
1. Book a trip through an online travel agency
Travala.com has emerged as the leader among the handful of online booking sites that accept crypto. It may offer fewer routes and destinations than traditional air-travel sites do and sometimes list slightly higher prices, said Mr. Jovic, who recently used it to book a flight to Budapest, but he finds the ability to pay with crypto outweighs those factors. While Travala co-founder and CEO Juan Otero, who worked at Booking.com in the late 2000s, agrees his company needs to be more competitive on airfare, he argues that its luxury hotel offerings compare well to rivals’. Of Travala’s monthly active users, Mr. Otero said, an-above average number opt for “four- and five-star hotels.” Omar Hamwi, a 37-year-old crypto professional from Washington, DC, and self-described loyal customer of Travala, booked a stay most recently at the five-star Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii. “I have idle crypto so I generally do like to use it when I can,” he said.
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2. Buy a flight ticket directly with the airline
You can book flights directly with at least one crypto-friendly airline—AirBaltic, Latvia’s premier carrier which services more than 70 destinations, primarily in the Baltics and Europe—but if you’re not flying out of Riga, it may be hard to take advantage. Still, according to the airline, since it began accepting crypto back in 2014, more than 1,000 customers have purchased tickets that way.
3. Reserve a swanky hotel
The Chedi, a chic luxury resort in the Swiss Alps lets guests pay with Bitcoin or Ethereum, as long as they’re spending more than $200 when paying for rooms or services like ski rentals and spa days—easily done since room rates generally start at $650 a night. The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, a boutique hotel group with locations in Europe and Asia including Rome, Amsterdam, Bali and Phuket, also accepts cryptocurrency bookings. For travelers who prefer to spend their crypto gains stateside, there’s the Kessler Collection, whose portfolio include several hotels in the southern US, as well as a ski lodge in Beaver Creek, Colo.
4. Visit a ‘cryptopia’
If anything close to a crypto Utopia exists, it’s the surf town of El Zonte, El Salvador, otherwise known as “Bitcoin Beach.” There, travelers can grub on pupusas after a day of surf lessons at El Zonte’s point break, and pay for it all with Bitcoin. “Most of the merchants accept Bitcoin,” said Carol Souza, a Brazilian influencer focused on educating people about crypto. Other cities are expected to follow suit. Earlier this month, the small picturesque city of Lugano, Switzerland, announced it is also adopting cryptocurrency as legal tender.
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Appeared in the March 26, 2022, print edition as ‘Have Cryptocurrency, Will Travel? 4 Strategies.’