David D. asked me in a comment he posted on this blog, “I'm curious about the number of Americans you've encountered and how it compares with past trips. Here in the U.S. we hear much about the weakness of the dollar and the malaise that is associated with the economy. Has this resulted in fewer Americans traveling abroad?”
My first response is “sure.” During my trip, I've seen tons of Americans traveling in Europe. I haven't noticed a decrease over the years, but I probably wouldn't notice a change unless it was drastic and sudden. I'm sure there was a drop in American tourism in Europe after 9/11, for instance, but that was a while ago. I was 11 and too young to be very aware of it. I'm sure there has been a drop in the past two years with the dollar so weak and the euro so strong, but again, I haven't noticed it during my travels.
I've heard people ask my Dad this question many times. He responds that his business has suffered. Rick Steves' Europe is selling fewer tours, but they are surviving fine. I worked in the Travel Center this past spring and I definitely observed efforts the company was making to become more efficient and economic. This way, they haven't had to lay off any employees.
My Dad would also add that the weak dollar is not a valid reason to postpone your travels. You can always find a reason to put off your trip — you've just got to save up the money and go for it. Furthermore, some Americans that were formerly traveling more expensively are now subscribing to the Rick Steves' “back-door” style of budget travel.
My friends have also asked me about the change in the travel industry and its effect on my Dad's business. It is my perception, as an uninformed daughter, that up until 9/11 business was really booming for Rick Steves' Europe. I presume that this is because Americans were becoming more worldly and could better afford travel. The events of 9/11 were certainly a blow, but I remember that the company was proud that they hadn't sustained that much of a negative impact. After a period of recovery, I think business began to improve in 2002.
It is my impression that in the past couple of years, with the formation of the European Union and the discrepancy between the strong euro and the weak dollar, that it has certainly kept some Americans from traveling as much as they used to — and as much as they would like to.
As a young traveler on a small budget, having to mentally multiply the cost of things by 1.6 (1 euro roughly equals $1.60) has pained me and my pocket. Sure, everything is more expensive, but it is still totally worth it. Besides, being thrifty and discovering new budget tricks can be lots of fun.
About This Entry
You are reading "Are Americans Traveling Less?", an entry posted on 25 August 2008 by Jackie Steves.