Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Europe on $128 a day?

When I went to Europe in 2001, the euro hadn't debuted yet. I paid with francs in Paris and lira in Rome. When the euro hit the market not long after, it was roughly equal to the U.S. dollar. Today, it's worth more than US$1.50. Or, stated another way, things in Europe will cost you one and a half times what they do in the U.S. (Unless you're going to Great Britain, where they're twice as much.)

Add to that situation the rising cost of air fare and fuel surcharges, and you'll be nearly broke before you can even change your dollars into euros. It doesn't take an economist to figure out that U.S. tourism to Europe is falling in lockstep with the value of the dollar.

What I find interesting is watching how travel marketing and information providers deal with this situation. Europe has always been an extremely popular travel destination for Americans, yet it's receding out of reach for more and more of us. Companies like Fodors and Lonely Planet cover global destinations, so they can compensate by suggesting travel to bargains like Central America and Africa. What I'm really wondering is how Rick Steves is coping. His business model is virtually exclusive to European travel.

On that trip back in 2001, my Bible was Frommer's "Europe on $70 a Day." Inflation drove that book's title to "Europe on $85 a Day" in 2004 (the latest year an edition was published). If you factor in the current state of the currency market, that's more like $128 a day that you'll need to get by—and I still have a hard time believing that's possible.

Then again, Arthur Frommer recently suggested camping as a way to afford a European vacation (yeah, I'm sure he researched that article personally). So there you have it: Europe on $128 a day, sleeping bag not included.

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