The Euro Difference

What a difference the Euro has made. I remember when I was living and studying in London and traveling around Europe in the late 90’s and 2000-01, thinking how cheap everything was for Americans. The dollar was strong and the old currencies like the Italian Lira, French Franc, Greek Drachma, Dutch Gilder and Spanish Peseta were all weak. While the British Pound was always strong, it wasn’t nearly as strong as it is today. I used to travel very carefree, spending like the money wasn’t real because everything you bought was at a steep discount with the exchange rates to the Dollar. One Christmas, I actually flew to Paris to buy all of my presents because I could get really nice stuff for really cheap even with the cost of the airline ticket. I couldn’t even fathom doing that now-this is the difference the Euro has made.

With the exchange rate of the Euro to the Dollar at an all time high, with one Euro being equal to about $1.40US, it is very expensive to travel in Europe and the cost of buying once cheap quality goods has skyrocketed. For once, it is cheaper to buy stuff in New York than it is anywhere in Western Europe. With the addition of a lot of the Eastern Block countries to the European Union and the impending adoption of the Euro in several new countries throughout Europe, the costs in once dirt cheap Eastern Europe have gone up dramatically as well. Gone are the days where you could do anything you wanted to do in Prague or Budapest for less than $5 a day which was very possible just 10 years ago. It is really amazing to have seen the transformation.

The strength of the Euro is an interesting thing. When it debuted on January 1, 2002, it immediately went down drastically against the dollar and I remember thinking this wouldn’t affect European travel too badly. However, the rest is history and now we are trading at all time lows and I have been to Europe 3 or 4 times this year and spent a small fortune-at least comparitively speaking.

The strength of the Euro and the relative global weakness of the Dollar has made a big difference in the way people plan their trips and vacations. Americans who cannot afford the price hikes will opt to vacation at home in the US in Florida or somewhere else to save money.

If you think about it, the price for a family of four to fly to Europe in the peak summer season and stay at decent places, eat at decent places and travel around a bit for 2 weeks would, conservatively, certainly be over $12,000 or 8,500 Euro. That’s a lot of money for a regular family to shell out for a vacation considering the average income in America is only $35,000 or so. Thats not even considering going to the UK where the Pound is more than double to the Dollar.

The saddest thing for the US Dollar is that we are now basically dead even with our long time weekend shopping trip neighbors to the North, Canada, so we don’t even have that to fall back on. It really is sad times for the Dollar and not that I expect to get any sympathy from anyone around the world, but this is the worst I have ever seen the dollar and this will really affect a lot Americans ability to travel abroad. Thankfully, there is always Disneyworld and of course the American favorites of Cancun (Where the Dollar crushes the Peso-Ya!) and Caribbean cruise packages-shoot me now!

Nevertheless if you’re looking for currency before you go abroad, click here to check the latest exchange rates online.

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  1. To quote you, it’s “Maddening” how bad the dollar is doing and how expensive it is around Europe and almost everywhere else too.

  2. Great article Lee. I can really relate. I wanted to take my family to Spain this summer, we planned a little last minute but there are 5 of us and it was going to be about $20,000 for the trip that we wanted to do for about 2 weeks, which is ridiculous. So we went to Cancun for about $5000 for two weeks. That’s a big difference.

  3. You’ve certainly got us thinking here at work, expect a few replies later.

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