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Poll for Americans about visiting Europe - Page 2

Poll Results: Are you going to Europe this year?

Poll expired: Jul 11, 2008  
  • 41% (23)
    No. I wasn't planning on going this year anyway.
  • 23% (13)
    Yes. I already made the reservations and I'm committed.
  • 32% (18)
    No. I want to go but just can't see spending the money this year.
  • 1% (1)
    Not sure. (This is for those people who aren't sure of anything.)
55 Total Votes  
post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by locknload View Post
I went to Europe 5 straight years from 03-07 to ski each year. In order, I went to:

St. Anton, Austria
Kitzbuhl, Austria
Grindelwald, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland
St. Anton, Austria

The first trip to Austria was around $1100 for airfare, lodging, half board and lift tickets. By time time we finished last year it was closer to $2500. Our group leader got some quotes for next year but all the quotes start at $1800 and go up from there. I will not be going anytime soon unless its for work. From a skiing standpoint, the skiing has not been nearly as good as this past season in UT. However, the ambiance and authenticity of the European ski villages is beyond comparison.
Between 07 and 08, the cost went from ~$1500 to ~$1700. The difference is entirely due to airfare.

So, whether I feel like going or not next season will depend entirely on airfare! Yes, the dollar lost say 10% from one year to the next. That makes a $1000 trip becomes $1100. In the mean time, airfare had gone from ~$500 to ~700!

It's not so much the weak dollar for me. It's the airfare. On the upside, if I luck out with scoring a killing airfare, it would more than make up for the poor dollar.
post #32 of 49
The dollar has gone down by a helluva lot more than let's say 10%. It has dropped every year since 2001. Here are the figures for today (19 June) for each of those years, as well as the year on year decline:

2008: .645 -14%
2007: .7462 -6%
2006: .7912 -3%
2005: .8132 -1%
2004: .8239 -4%
2003: .8556 -19%
2002: 1.0506 -10%
2001: 1.1612 ---

The dollor today is worth 44% less than it was seven years ago. That is a major difference.
post #33 of 49
Quote:
The dollor today is worth 44% less than it was seven years ago. That is a major difference.
That's also borne out by locknload's ski trip from 03-07. But that didn't deter him and others from going.

The dollar hadn't been all that strong prior to 2000. In the 90's it wasn't all that different than now compare to other currencies. IN fact, I don't recall ski trips to Europe was that much cheaper back in the early to mid-90's.

On the other hand, the Euro has gone up quite a bit against just about any other currency. That itself, could change, regardless of what happen to the dollar.

7 years is a heck of a long time for the memory of a skier. Or for that matter, for just about anything! Most people's property had gone up a helluva lot more than that! (even accounting the recent drop) In 7 years, lift tickets had gone up quite a bit in the US. So does hotel (partly due to rise in property). I don't know how much those has changed in Europe. In that light, the change of exchange rate is indeed just a "fluctuation" in the overall cost.

Now, if the US economy goes to the dog for good (a long term "depressoin" instead of just a short term recession), THAT would change things.
post #34 of 49
Well, one more thing is this.

The price of skiing is set partly by exchange rates, partly by world prices (oil, commodities) but partly also by demand. Now for most people (not the members of this forum, of course ) skiing holidays are the model of a luxury item that people don't purchase in tough times. So if the economy really does catch a bad cold, there will be a lot of ski operators with holidays that they are looking to shift. That should, in principle, send prices in the other direction.

So here is my suggestion. It seems to me that the best resorts will always be full at the peak times -- and if you're going to the trouble of coming over to Europe, why go anywhere but one of the best resorts? But at off-peak times there is the possibility of DEEP, DEEP discounts even there.

It used to be a matter of ringing round the holiday companies about a week or so before you wanted to go. Now many of them have got a policy and won't do that, but will advertise discounts on their web site or package holidays with discounters (lastminute.com, etc.). In the middle of January there are a lot of empty beds in pretty much every resort -- but the staff still need to be paid. So, if you're prepared to come next January, book your flight, but hold your nerve and don't book accommodation until the last minute, I think you could save a lot of money.

Anyone with more experience than me have any thoughts about that?
post #35 of 49
Europe is the weak spot in my overall ski experience, and I will be retired by next season, so I will likely suck it up and try to find a way. This year I did the Extremely Canadian trip to La Grave. Their trips are premium priced (2 EC guides + 2 local guides for 6 clients), but for guided skiing in La Grave I thought it was worthwhile to pay for the best.

Quote:
I gotta get over to Egypt some time in that time frame to visit so it could be in the cards.
I thought Egypt was a great value. 2 weeks in 2006 for $2,500pp including Cairo, Abu Simbel, Nile Cruise Aswan to Luxor, 3 days scuba diving Sharm-el-Sheik, Mt. Sinai, Alexandria, Siwa Oasis and the March 29 solar eclipse. http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boa...pic.php?t=2009 .

I had envisioned skiing in the Alps before that trip, but it didn't work out.
post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
Europe is the weak spot in my overall ski experience, and I will be retired by next season, so I will likely suck it up and try to find a way. This year I did the Extremely Canadian trip to La Grave. Their trips are premium priced (2 EC guides + 2 local guides for 6 clients), but for guided skiing in La Grave I thought it was worthwhile to pay for the best.
That sounds wonderful. What did it cost, if you don't mind my asking?
post #37 of 49
As a Scottish skier, i'd like to say that it's now more economical for us to fly to from the UK to the US or Canada for a 1 or 2 week ski trip than it is to go to many European resorts.

You have cheap fuel and even cheaper food and drink.

We are now paying about £1.20 a litre for unleaded... That's $2.40 per litre in US money.

It'll be interesting in the next year or two to see how many americans actually come on holiday to the UK as they'll no doubt look at the cost of food, accommodation and fuel and add it all up and say "no way". The UK is in a total shambles economically at the moment. People who live here can't afford it, i doubt very many american tourists can.
post #38 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
7 years is a heck of a long time for the memory of a skier. Or for that matter, for just about anything! Most people's property had gone up a helluva lot more than that! (even accounting the recent drop) In 7 years, lift tickets had gone up quite a bit in the US. So does hotel (partly due to rise in property). I don't know how much those has changed in Europe. In that light, the change of exchange rate is indeed just a "fluctuation" in the overall cost.
But the thing is, the drop in the currency has a multiplying effect on those other cost rises.

As an example, I moved to Berlin in 2002. At that time a monthly transit pass cost €54. It now costs €72. That's a 42% increase. If we put those prices into dollars, the pass cost $47 in 2002 and now costs $115. That's an increase of 144%. I don't care if six years is a long time in some people's minds. In many people's minds, a 144% increase over six years is massively significant.

Have lift prices, lodging, transport, food and drink in European ski resorts gone up by the same extent over that time? Probably not, but the principle is the same. Every increase is multiplied when converted to dollars.

Maybe the 14% drop in the dollar over the past year is not a dealbreaker for some people. But my point is that this comes after years of decline, and at some point people have a pain threshhold. Maybe somebody was willing to deal with the dollar at "only" 37% lower than in 2001, as it was at this time last year. But that extra drop in the past year may have been too much for many people.
post #39 of 49
I'll be moving from the U.S. to France in August 2008 for a few years to visit as many of the small ski builders in Europe (and test their stuff !) as I can, and with the current EUR/USD exchange rate, it will be a bit expensive at times...but I will try to report on what the real-life costs are like since we'll be renting a place, buying food, using trains, renting cars, buying lift tickets...etc. Stay tuned....
post #40 of 49
Next year was our year to go to Europe (we alternate US and Europe each year) but the strong AUD against the USD means we're going to Utah in '09.
post #41 of 49
Quote:
Maybe the 14% drop in the dollar over the past year is not a dealbreaker for some people. But my point is that this comes after years of decline, and at some point people have a pain threshhold.
And my point is that pain threadhold has already passed for some people 2 or 3 years BACK! While for others it hasn't reached there yet.

This is the year the weak dollar makes the headline. Some MORE people will start having doubts about skiing in Europe. But rationally, this years decline really isn't all that dramatic, in the grand scheme of things.

Air fare, easily make up nearly half of the expense of skiing Europe for many people. Yet, despite the dollar dropping all these years (without the headline noticing), transatlantic airfare has remain basically unchanged. So really, the only "big news" this year is the potentially high airfar. If it does hike up significantly, it'll be the final straw for people who're already stretching to make the trip. Otherwise, I'm not convince the dollar make that big of a difference, psychologocally or financially, for people's skiing plan.
post #42 of 49
We are on the every-other-year plan ... Switzerland in 06, Austria in 08, and not sure in 10. If the dollar continues to weaken, we'll probably bag the trip, I would guess. There was talk about going to Japan instead, but that was probably just talk.

On the other hand, our European friends are heavily into shopping here (yes, including real estate).

I probably told this story, but when we were in Lech in March, I found a pair of Arc'teryx pants I'd been searching for ... for $700! Somehow I was able to resist buying them ;-), and what do you know, they showed up on SAC for $150 a couple of weeks ago.
post #43 of 49
I found the same thing with North Face. I went into Killy's shop in Val d'Isere and found outlet clothes I was wearing were worth over a grand. The next day I looked around the tram, and everyone had those clothes...geeesh
post #44 of 49
I too fall outside the poll parameters.

I went to Switzerland twice this past Winter/Spring. Once to Zermatt where we stayed in a modest 3 star. It was $2100 for two people for the week with bkfst and dinner. Went out to dinner twice to nice restaurants. That's wasn't cheap but food was fantastic. Lunches were on a par with US high end resorts pricewise, but the food/service/views/ambiance was over the top. Lift tickets were $389 per person (Switz./Italy pass)for 6 days of skiing. Not cheap but not a killer either. Air was $533 per person from Vermont using some points to knock down the price. Train was $110 round trip per person. Hotel in Geneva was $150 for two. Whole deal ended up being around $2,600 per head which I don't think is bad considering we were skiing at one of the biggest, best, high end resorts on the planet.

I went to Bivio for a week of ski touring in April . Air was about the same as the first trip. Train was the same. Hotel (very nice 3 star) including all food & drink plus guide for 6 days was $1,850. Hotel in Zurich was $46..... Marriott points. Total cost was about the same as the Zermatt trip. Only bought one ride on a t-bar for lifts. Guide cost offset lift ticket expenses.

Yes, I'll go back next year. I'd like to spend a week skiing in resort (with a little off piste if conditions allow) followed by a week of off piste/touring. The trick is finding the time and meshing with everyone's schedules.
post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by choucas View Post
Hotel in Zurich was $46.

Did you leave off a zero? If not, did it have vermin and normally rent by the hour?

Sound like great trips!
post #46 of 49
As many of you here I already had my europian "fix" this year: went for 2 weeks to Austria in March with skiing in Alberg and Stubai. Actually we did it for the last three years: Wengen/Murren/Grindelwald in 2006, Zermatt/Chamonix 2007. Canadian dollar appreciating against US did help, but it stayed pretty much "flat" against Euro. However if you crunch the numbers trip to Europe is not much more expensive than to Canadian or US Rockies, at least from East Coast. It actually would cost me more to fly to Calgary or Vancouver than to fly to Munich. Since you are paying airfare and car rental in $ it's pretty much a toss up. Lift tickets are way cheaper in Europe than it is in Canada or US: 199Euro ~300$ for 6 days in Alberg (St. Anton/Lech/Zurs) compare to > 600$ in Vail. Accommodation and food might be more expensive, but don't have to be really . We stayed in nice family run ski hotel in Alberg for ~600Euro a week. I know it won't be easy to find reasonable place in Whistler or Banff for that amount of money (~150$/night including taxes). Beer in Austria actually cost me less than in my local pub in Canada.
Also ambiance and quality of skiing is quite different from NA. So in my eyes it definitely worth an extra expense, even if only perceived one
post #47 of 49
Quote:
Did you leave off a zero? If not, did it have vermin and normally rent by the hour?
LOL!

Reading carefully, I noticed: "Hotel in Zurich was $46..... Marriott points". That reminds me I paid $0 to stay in Geneva, Holiday Inn points.

I think alex saubage got it right. For those of us in the east coast, the flight to the west plus car rental actually come out as expensive as the flight to the Alps (no rental car needed usually). So if that doesn't change, Europe will still be perfectly affordable despite the exchange rate.

The only potential problem is the higher air fare. But that's bad for BOTH Europe and the Rockies for us east coasters. So it's not a matter of WHERE, but a matter of how much skiing. Some may end up cutting back on trips, though not neccessairly staying within the US.
post #48 of 49
Not skiing in Europe this year (have gone to Davos and Bormio in years past), but have been to England once this year already for a theatre weekend over a US holiday, going back for a English countryside trip later this summer, Paris Florence and Rome for Lisamarie's birthday in October, and Madrid over US Thanksgiving.

Expensive? Not as much as you think if you play the airline and hotel programs smartly, volunteer for bump vouchers and negotiate up for more, and find all the discounts you can get. Assuming of course one has to do a bunch of travel for work/personal reasons in the first place, which I do for the current few years.

The October trip is all miles for airfare and all Hilton and Starwood (Westin/Sheraton/4Pts etc.) for free hotel stays. Overnight train fare Paris-Florence and a local train Florence-Rome are the only transportation/travel expenses, while we get to enjoy for free the Florence Grand Hotel, Rome Westin Excelsior, and Hilton Paris (as opposed to enjoying Paris Hilton ). The theatre weekend over Memorial Day had Lisa's ticket paid 70% from dollar-value vouchers I got from United from negotiating a good bump on a Denver-Raleigh work trip. The August trip has Lisa's ticket free with miles, as is Lisa's ticket for the November Madrid trip. I should have enough Starwood points for at least 1 or 2 free nights at the Westin Palace for that. One more cheap Hampton Inn in Missouri next week when I drive my other car back to Colorado (rather than saving $20 to stay at a cheaper place) and I've got enough Hilton points to get the third night in Paris at what would be a $400/night rate or more.

If I wasn't already doing all the business travel and thus were paying for all of this in real Bush Pesos, especially the hotel stays, I wouldn't be staying at those upscale expensive places, and I couldn't afford all those trips. But I'd still want to do at least one or two foreign trips a year. I do know some inexpensive places, ways to find others, and there are (semi-)affordable deals out there. Airfares are not totally out of line given costs. There are still sub-$1000 (sometimes way sub-1000) airfares to Europe, especially if you look in fall/winter (or early spring) which can be great, uncrowded times to go. Given that a US transcon can easily be $500 these days, going to Europe is still a worthwhile value rather than another trip to Orlando or LA or wherever. Small cheap hotels with free continental breakfast, using the public transit systems and local/regional rail (just be sure to have "Ticket or Pass" especially in Budapest - see Kontroll) eating at street vendors (with some common sense and Pepto-Bismol & immodium in the travel bag just in case) can save lots of money.

It's not Europe, but this spring in Bangkok I had lunch one day at a stall for about 75 cents US, and the next day a very similar meal at an outdoor restaurant by a tourist area for about $30 US (no, I didn't pick the restaurant!). Walking, getting out of the touristic businesses and areas, can make the trip both cheaper and a richer cultural experience.

It's affordable if it's of value to you. People spend more to see the Mouse than it takes to go to Europe for the same number of days. I'd rather see the real castles.
post #49 of 49
Was just in Italy for 10 days. According to a guide, bookings are way down this year - and for next year it's prebooking is down about 30%. This is good news if you're thinking of visiting.

Things aren't great for most Italians either by the way. Their income with the Euro has fallen. Gasoline is 1.50 -1.65 Euros per liter. That's roughly 6 euros per gallon or well over 9 US$ per gallon at current rate of 1.6 $ to euro.

In a random conversation with a twenty something woman, (employed): "We can't afford to get married, can't afford to have children." Starting salaries for engineers are roughly 1,000 euros - per month.
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