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Strong Dollar Tempts Texans To Vacation In Europe, But Mexico Still Leads

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A view of the historic town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Franconia, Bavaria, Germany

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven’t wanted to pay top dollar, now is a good time to take out your wallet. With the dollar creeping up on the euro, Texan tourists are modifying their summer itineraries.

UT Austin student Neena Malhotra is taking advantage of the weaker euro. She’s planning on traveling to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.

The price of everything from paella to train tickets has dropped.

“And when looking at the prices to determine whether it is a good idea or not,” she says, “it seemed more feasible than it had another time we had tried to do it.”

According to TripAdvisor, the average nightly rate for a European hotel this summer is $133. That’s compared to $164 last year. And the average cost of a one-week Europe trip has dropped by 11 percent.

And 11 percent is a lot when you’re working tight margins.

“What would have maybe cost me $2,000 when I budgeted it is now costing me $1,200 or $1,300,” JaneilEngelstad says.

Englestad, who goes to Europe every summer, is founding director of the Dallas organization Make Art with Purpose (MAP). Since most of her funding comes from American sources, she’s able to earn more money and pass on savings to team members in Poland and the Balkans.

“This is not something that happens a lot, so it’s really an incredible thing to be doing as an artist,” Englestad says. 

Travel agencies are also profiting from the dollar’s surge. Paul Wiseman is president of Trafalgar, a guided vacations company.

“It’s been a good year,” Wiseman says. “We’re seeing double digit growth in Italy and Great Britain and I’m sure that’s on the back of a very strong U.S. dollar.”

But is a 90-cent cheaper café au lait enough to tempt people to go to Paris instead of Mexico?

Who better to ask than Paula Serrano, a travel agent in the city of Paris, Texas. And the answer?

“No, [travel] has not picked up,” Serrano says. “I sell more Mexico than anything.”

After all, in Cancun, a dollar gets you not just one, but 15 pesos. 

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.