It is expensive to travel in Europe. And you’ve heard all the horror stories about lost luggage and canceled flights. For an experienced traveler Lewis Walker, a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group in Peachtree Corners, Ga., traveling abroad is worth every penny. He breaks down the costs for us:
Larry Light: The Louvre, the Vatican, Buckingham Palace – these tourist sites are worth seeing, of course. But why pay a fortune when you can vacation in the US for less?
Lewis Walker: Colin Treadwell is a travel writer with Tauck, a US-based tour operator. He has extolled the virtues of travel and exploration as a way to “learn something new”.
And there is good news on that front. Yes, inflation is rampant and airfares have risen significantly compared to the recent past, but demand for travel remains strong and there is some relief in the strength of the US dollar against major global currencies. Consider Europe as a destination.
Light: Split the cost for us, please.
Walker: As of last week, it took $1.02 to buy one euro, the lowest it has been in years. On May 10, AFAR
Light: It’s not just Europe that’s a bargain, is it?
Walker: The dollar’s strength is not limited to the European currency. The dollar has hit its highest level against the currencies of major trading partners since 2002, even as US inflation runs rampant. “The greenback’s surge sent the euro, British pound and Japanese yen lower,” said the Wall Street Journal.
While currency changes are difficult to predict, many forecasters expect the dollar’s strength to continue, presenting conundrums. A strong dollar makes many imports cheaper while making American exports more expensive for foreign buyers. But for travelers lost after pandemic restrictions, a big greenback is a boon.
Light: Many Americans are taking advantage of this, it seems.
Walker: For AFAR, summer 2022 travel bookings are up 200% compared to 2021. An experienced travel agent can be an asset to help you sort through the options.
For those with flexibility, a fall visit might be a better bet. Europe in summer can be hot and crowded. If you want to use airlines or other travel destinations, availability may be greater in the fall or off-peak. For winter travel, consider the temperate southern hemisphere. With lower demand, air fares can be less difficult.
Light: And the learning experience is invaluable.
Walker: St. Augustine of Hippo lived from 354 to 430 AD, a time when the meaning of the world was much smaller than it is today. However, as a visionary, he wisely advised: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”