Falling euro ideal for autumn travel

What did you do during the summer of 2002?

Ride around in the car, sing along to Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”?

Laughing like me as your friend showed you his clumsy camera phone that just came out, thinking “well, that’ll never work”?

Or were you in Europe, sipping a very affordable Aperol Spritz in the sun, taking advantage of the fact that the dollar enjoyed an exceptionally strong exchange rate against the brand new euro?

If that were the case, you had no idea that the value of the dollar against the euro was going to fall – and fall hard – to finally bottom out in the spring of 2008, when one dollar was only around 62 euro cents. While the exchange rate has been much more favorable in recent years, the dollar has never reached parity with the euro.

So far.

Euro banknotes. (Photo via Grafner/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Yup, it’s time to dust off your low-waisted jeans and make an appointment with the hairdresser for some frosty advice, because, for the first time since the summer of 2002, the American dollar is now roughly equal to one euro .

(At the end of August, the dollar was actually worth more than the euro and at the time of writing is equal to 99 euro cents, but for about a month it has basically been oscillating at 1:1 every day.)

Why did this happen? A very complicated mix of things having to do with interest rates, inflation and the war in Ukraine and other random factors.

What it means though, is that Europe is now as wallet-friendly as it has been in 20 years.

Think of it this way: if a couple went to Europe for a 10-day trip in the 2010s when the dollar was worth 80 euro cents (much better than in 2008, but far from the 1:1 we have today), and after their flight costs, they budgeted a reasonable $400 per day for hotels, tours, and meals, which would have cost them $5,000.

Today, it would only cost you $4,000.

Oh, and the same also applies to the UK, where the dollar recently hit its highest value against the pound since 1985.

Sure, there’s been some inflation on both sides of the Atlantic, but the main takeaway is that Europe is basically on sale and fall is arguably the best time to be here, the big question is…what are you waiting for?

If you need an excuse to call your travel consultant, how about these:

Stuttgart, Germany, Festival, Cannstatter Volksfest
Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Scott Hartbeck)

The festivals are finally back

After a three-year hiatus, Oktoberfest returns to Munich (September 17-October 4) while Cannstatter Volksfest is back in Stuttgart (September 23-October 9). They’re both so much more than just bacchanalian beer-drinkers, with traditional food, music, and dress just as ingrained in their identity as raising a mug. That’s not to mention the countless foodie harvest festivals dedicated to truffles, olive oil, chestnuts, wine, oysters and everything in between that are happening again this year.

The Med’ is always magnificent

The temperatures are idyllic and the water is warm until September and often until mid-October on the Spanish, French, Italian, Croatian and Greek coasts. The summer crowds have said goodbye, making it the perfect time to soak up the sun and the easy way of life in dreamy towns and islands on the Mediterranean Sea.

Europe also has beautiful leaves

North America doesn’t hold the exclusive rights to fantastic fall foliage, as you can find great spots to admire the leaves all over the continent. You thought these castles looked romantic before? Expect to see them surrounded by orange and red streaks. Or how about a stroll hand in hand in Paris or Prague, coffee in hand as the leaves crunch under your feet while contemplating a skyline splashed with color?

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