Dear America, Now's the Best Time to Go To Europe (and here's why!)
Dear Americans, the time has come to go to Europe. Why? Because of this:
The USD is Stronger
The US Federal Reserve has been generous over the past decade, hoping to encourage people to spend their way out of the Global Financial Crisis. Now that the scene has changed, the hands on the reins of money are tightening. The growth in economic strength has had an immediate impact on the currency, allowing for in tandem strengthening of the US dollar. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, Europe is lagging behind, and due to a variety of social and economic reasons their Euro is now the weakest it has been since its conception.
But what does this mean? For the discerning traveler and holiday-maker, it means a whole lot. With the dollar gaining strength and nearly at parity with the Euro, it means that the Greenback now carries more weight in Europe than it has done since the birth of the Euro Zone. This translates into a direct incentive for Americans to travel to Europe.
Already-Cheap Destinations Now Even Cheaper
If you’ve vacationed in southern Europe, you’ll be aware that countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece have always been more affordable than the more expensive North European nations like Germany. With its Mediterranean climate, these southern destinations have always been popular with holiday-makers looking to stretch their budget as far as they can go. Good news for you then! The weaker Euro means that these destinations are now even more affordable than they were five years ago.
According to New York Times’ Neil Irwin of ‘The Upshot’ column, European destinations are now around 12.5% cheaper than they were at the beginning of the year. That’s 12.5% more bang for your buck when you head to European soil, and if you play your cards right, an even greater return than that depending on where you’re headed.
Remember that this is not just about paying for your accommodation. One of the reasons why people go to France, for example, is to experience its culinary heritage. People come from all over the world to explore the gourmet restaurants and partake in beautiful French wines. All of which suddenly became much more affordable.
Reclaim your VAT
It's important to look at the USD in a historical context. Think back to 2013: where was the USD in comparison to the EURO? What matters now, however, is this: the USD buys 20% more than what it did two years ago. This means that if you go to Europe now you will spend 20% less than you would have if you went in 2013.
Now here's the extra fun part, since you're on vacation, you can claim any tax back on luxury items you've bought during your stay. So not only are you saving money on the exchange rate, claiming back your tax will save you even more!
Take this watch for example: a Rolex Submariner. Two years ago, this watch was €10,900 and would have cost you an equivalent amount in USD: $13,300. Fast forward to today and factor in the reclaimed VAT, and you cannot ignore how much you might save: $4,000! Note that the amount of VAT you can claim back varies, but it might be as much as the full 20%. That's enough to buy an entire second watch while you're there, a cheaper model yes, but a Rolex is a Rolex.
Of course, there’s no telling exactly how long these ideal conditions will last and which way they will go when they start to change. Economies are always changing, and global events have continuous affects. Europe is already addressing its weakening economic status, and is sure to eventually follow the US’s example and climb out of the economic trouble it finds itself in at the moment. The question is ‘how long will that take?’, but more importantly, it means that this current currency strength that the US enjoys over the Euro zone won’t last forever.
So! Our recommendations for your European vacation:
Spain: visit the Costa del Sol and soak up the sights in and around Puerto Banús and Marbella.
Greece: bask in Greek splendor on the islands of Mykonos and Samos.
French Riviera: because now's your chance to visit St. Tropez.