If you have ever wanted to go to – or return to – Europe, this is the year to go! It’s not just that the cost of going there is lower than it’s been in years. New airlines and lower numbers of tourists means better offers than we’ve seen for 15 years or more. Here are some of the reasons to go soon:
The dollar has gained value against both the British pound and the euro. Today exchange rates are reflecting the run up of the American stock markets. The euro is trading around US$1.05 today down from rates in the high US$1.40’s during the recession years. The British pound has fallen from a high of about US$2.00 in 2009 to around $1.22 recently.
New low-cost airlines are causing “legacy” carriers to lower the cost of their flights drastically. Norwegian Airlines and a new airline called “WOW” are the latest entries in this price war. My personal example: this week I purchased a round trip ticket from Boston to Dublin departing June 3 and returning September 1 from Aer Lingus for $555. Today American Airlines has a fare as low as $706 for the same flight. A tip for people flying outside Europe: Ryan Air is a low-cost Irish airline that flies from Dublin to every major destination in Europe (and many smaller cities). When planning your trip consider flying to Dublin and continuing to your final destination via Ryan Air.
Some destinations in Europe – Paris especially – are experiencing sharp declines in the numbers of tourists. The number of foreign visitors to Paris dropped by 1.6 million in 2016 due to acts of terrorism. London and the UK seemed to pick up some of those visitors; tourism there rose to an all-time high, up 3% in 2016. Of course, there’s a great deal more to Europe than Paris and London! The euro-zone includes all of western Europe except Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Personally I don’t let terrorists change my life – the chances of that happening anywhere are miniscule. But if that worries you, explore smaller cities and the countryside in Europe. You’ll discover life as it’s truly lived.
Declining tourist numbers are causing the cost of hotels to be lowered. Hostels welcome guests of all ages and many new and much more luxurious hostels are popping up everywhere. AirBnB and similar companies allow you to cut the cost of overnight accommodations to a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Or to enjoy an entire apartment or house for the price of a hotel room and live like a native! (The price of hotels in London is astronomical; here’s a link to an article in today’s news listing several hotels with rooms under £125 night – some are much less.)
One last good reason to go this year: the European Union is considering a change that will require Americans to purchase a visa to enter Europe. Now you can go everywhere except Russia without one and stay up to 90 days (180 days in the U.K.) Read about the EU’s recent action here.
Nothing I have ever experienced has been more enjoyable or more rewarding than traveling around Europe. It is the place where our culture was born. For several millennia extraordinary artifacts have been created and preserved. Most North Americans descend from thousands of European people. Go find your heritage! You’ll love it!