Cheapest Time To Travel In Europe?

Our son has been in Paris the last few weeks and he mentioned how inexpensive the city seems to be. Much cheaper than things seem to be back home in the USA.

That surprised me as my perception has been that Paris is usually on the more expensive cities to visit. Then, I saw that the Euro is trading especially low against the US dollar right now. They are practically 1:1 for the first time in a very long time.

I’ve travelled to Europe for business or pleasure a dozen times and usually paid about $1.25-$1.35 for a Euro. I memorably paid over $1.50/Euro at least once. Our last trip there was in late 2019, and we paid about a $1.15 exchange rate then.

Not to let a good spending opportunity go to waste, I’m shooting over to Paris later this week to have some fun with our son. I cashed in a bunch of frequent flyer miles to make it an ‘award trip’. I guess this will be my unscheduled bonus trip this year.

Where have you encountered favorable exchange rates recently? What’s the worst you ever encountered in the past?

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 thoughts on “Cheapest Time To Travel In Europe?

  1. I traveled in Mexico a lot during the late 70s and early 80s. Their government had an ‘official’ exchange rate that over valued the peso. You could trade your dollars on the black market simply by paying merchants and restaurants directly in dollars and negotiating the exchange rate. Seemed like my money really went far.

    In 1994, my wife and I honeymooned in France, Switzerland, and Italy, when each country still had its own currency. Prices seemed okay in France, and Italy was especially good.

    In 2009 and 2010, we took out kids all over Europe on a Eurail Pass. The Euro was around 1.3 per dollar and some things like Restaurant meals seemed really expensive. We were pleasantly surprised with the grocery stores in France and Germany as the price for produce and meat was about the same per kilo in Euros, as they were in pounds per Dollar in the US. Wine and beer were really cheap, because these were seen as staples and not sin taxed like the USA.

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    1. The Mexican peso is an interesting case. I think at one point they ‘split’ them all, so instead of being 100 peso:$1 US, they were 10 peso:$1 US. I’m not sure what happened there. Today, they are about 20 peso:$1 US. Mexico has really gotten cheap and Cabo has become a popular place to go on a winter trip from Minnesota.

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      1. The debasement of the peso was actually much worse. I remember visiting a friend at his parent’s house in Saltillo, MX in 1980 and they had the nicest house I had been in up to that point in my life. The house cost 250 thousand pesos which was around $70,000 USD at the time. That was one of the times when MX had the ‘official’ exchange rate that wasn’t the real exchange rate that the average person on the street was willing to pay.

        In 1991, I was on a fishing trip in San Felipe, MX. I changed $50 USD to go out for dinner and drinks (pocket change) for pesos and received 170,000 pesos. I remember thinking for the cost of two nights dinner and drinks in 1991, I could have afforded the nicest house I had been in up to 1981. Mexico came out with the new peso in 1993. They new peso moved three decimal places. 1000 to 1. Now that’s inflation.

        If I had a time machine I could take pesos back in time and buy some great real estate at a bargain price. Until a time travel machine is invented, and I have exclusivity on it, the next best thing is wise investments.

        My two favorite investments at this point in time are fixed rate mortgages and dividend paying stocks that are growing their payouts in stable boring businesses where people really need their products to live.

        My 2.65% 30 year fixed refi mortgage taken out in August 2021 is looking like a winner. Some day when I am taking my wheel barrow full of cash to the grocery store to buy a case of beer, I just might stop off by the bank and give them a brick of cash I got as change to pay off the mortgage.

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  2. Currency debasement screws the under class and keeps people trapped in the under class. You cannot save your way to get ahead, because just as soon as you almost saved enough to buy that property or business, the debasement genie pulls the rug out from under you. You cannot borrow your way out of the under class, because interest rates at 30% or more.

    Here is where this story gets really bad. The upper class gets richer during currency debasements. Think of Soros betting against the pound, and winning. The Bolsa (Argentina’s Stock Exchange) closes and 3 PM on Friday. Be sure to get your hedges in place, so you will make money when the fecal matter hits the fan on Monday when the currency is debased 3 to 1.

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    1. Yep – that’s always the case with any economic calamity. The rich get the inside track and do fine. The poor are left out to suffer and don’t even know what’s happening to them.

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      1. Having a sound currency is one of the best ways to help the poor who are willing to help themselves. I once had in cabbie in Buenos Aires tell my that he wished his country had a stable currency like the US, so he could save to get ahead.

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  3. We were in Europe on a cruise in May. We spent a few extra days before and after. We bought meals in Istanbul, Athens and Venice. I found Istanbul to be the most inexpensive large City to dine in. Meals in Athens and Venice were comparable to US but the included service charge made the total cost of the dining experience cheaper. Prior experience in London, Amsterdam and Paris was that eating out was much more expensive than the US over the period 1990-2019.

    I was in London on business in 1990 and took my cousin and her husband to dinner. It was the first time they had been in a restaurant since they had moved there five months prior.

    Life is less expensive here in the US, but most don’t recognize it. I will add that gasoline in those areas was the equivalent of $8 per gallon converting from liters and euro to gallons and dollars. What suffers is that we aren’t getting as many European tourists due to the currency issue, but then we don’t have the capacity to entertain them since all of the US population is spending pent up travel dollars at home and the labor shortage in the hospitality industry. Complex times

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    1. Agree – Americans don’t realize how well paid they are and how much less things cost compared with Europe. EU countries rank among the bottom 10 USA states for GDP/capita or Purchasing Power Parity.


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