The Euro is $1.57 against the dollar today, a whopping two cents less than the all-time high of $1.59 posted Thursday. Last May when I was traveling in Holland and France, I think it was something like $1.34, which means the 85-Euro a night Paris hotel room that cost $113.90 then would cost $135.15 a night now. Egads. My MBA-pursuing brother-in-law gave me an explanation for why the Euro is so strong versus the dollar (something about imports and exports), but that doesn't make it stink any less. The world may be smaller, but it sure ain't cheaper.
I think back to my grad-school days, my first Europe trips in 1996. I had two of them: a five-week one during the summer, and a nine-week one in the fall, doing dissertation research. I had a limited amount of grant money, so I had to be savvy with my money, and back then, pre-Euro, I could be. Sure, it was more of a challenge; every time you crossed a border you had to learn new currency and a new exchange rate, and carry around your calculator to tally up 1500 lire/dollar or 4.50 francs/dollar, but your dollar went further. The toilette-down-the-hall hotel I stayed in Paris back then cost me about 45 dollars a night; now it'd cost me 95.
I feel sorry for the young students who would like to experience Europe this summer, but can't afford it. The study abroad programs at my university are usually booked full by now, but this year most of them have extended deadlines to try and lure more participants. Some might have to be cancelled. Kids just can't do it. Heck, I'm not going to Europe myself this year, because when you add the airfares into the mix, you really are talking about a lot of money.
If there's a bright spot here, it's that European tourists have it made for their American travel, and a lot of them will be flooding to Florida. Helping my state's economy, so dependent on tourism, so that maybe the state government will send a little largesse into higher education. Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!