For the first time in 20 years, the euro hit parity with the dollar last week. The exchange rate, $1.20 to the euro just a year ago, reached 1:1 last Tuesday for the first time since December 2002. That drop has a lot of implications. For American travelers, it means your money goes further in Europe than it has in a generation.
To be sure, the eurozone does not include all of Europe, or even the entire European Union. But the 19 countries that use the euro include plenty of Americans’ favorite places to visit, along with some up-and-coming destinations that are absolutely worth discovering. The eurozone countries are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Croatia will join Jan. 1, and some smaller countries and principalities also use the euro (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Kosovo and Montenegro).
From the Atlantic Ocean to the Danube, from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, itineraries are more affordable. A cruise along the Rhine, an Iberian idyll to Portugal and Spain, island-hopping in the Med, they’re all journeys where your dollar is on par with the euro. Think of all the capitals you can take in more affordably: Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Athens, the list goes on. The savings even go as far as the Caribbean, as France’s overseas territories there (including St. Barth’s, St. Martin, Martinique and Guadeloupe) use the euro.
If worries about inflation had you thinking about delaying a trip, plan one to Europe. It’s as if much of the continent is on sale. If you want to take advantage of the parity and lock in your exchange rate, most hotels allow you to pay in advance and keep a refundable cancellation policy. If you want to add a stop in the U.K. to your itinerary, you’re in luck there, too. While a pound is still worth about $1.19, that exchange rate is a lot more favorable to Americans than it was a year ago, when 1 pound equaled about $1.39.
As we’ve learned all too well over the last couple of years, it’s difficult to predict where things will go from here. Right now, though, your dollar will take you pretty far in Europe, so we suggest you take advantage. Contact us at email@example.com or 800-322-9481 to start planning.