How does the exchange rate affect travel

Written by Hank Martin in Culture, Personal Development

I'm a by the book kind of guy. Lately I've been hooked on date regarding U.S. travelers. Using data from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries and historical exchange rates from the Federal Reserve between the dollar and the euro I put together a few graphs. I wanted to answer the question: Does the exchange rate affect the travel habits of people. Below are my insights and findings:


  • I began by taking the exchange rate between the dollar and euro for January 3rd of every year from 2000 - 2015
  • Next I took the total number of yearly travelers to Europe from the United States from 2000 - 2015
  • My aim was to see if there was actually a correlation between the exchange rate and number of travelers
    • In my personal experience the exchange rate hasn't had as big of an impact on my travels so much as timing and availability. I wanted to see how this compared to other travelers.

The Exchange Rate


  • This graph shows the strength of the dollar in comparison to the euro. The lower the blue line dips the stronger the dollar is in relation to the euro.
  • When the dollar, represented by the blue line, is below one then the exchange rate is in favor of the dollar. Vice versa when the dollar exchange rate is above zero. (For example, in 2003,  90 cents would get you 1 euro compared to 2008 when $1.40 would get you one euro.)
  • The only time the exchange rate has been in favor of the dollar, or below a dollar, was in 2001-2003.

U.S. Travelers Visiting Europe


  • This graph shows the number of travelers that left the United States and visited Europe in the millions. (For example, in 2001 there were just over 13 million visits to Europe.)
  • It's important to note that the data represents number of visits and not number of people. Hence one person could travel to Europe five times in the same years and be counted as having five visits.
  • Information is through 2014.

Things of Note:

  • In 2007 and 2008, when the dollar was at its worst with the euro (1.32-1.47 dollars got you 1 euro), Europe experienced two of the greatest years of inbound Americans in the past 15 years
  • In 2002 when the dollar was the strongest (90 cents got you 1 euro), the fewest number of people from the United States visited Europe.
  • In 2000, the greatest number of people from the United States (13,121,674 million people) visited Europe. The exchange rate was 1.

My Thoughts:

  • I'm glad that we could take a commonly held myth about travel and exchange rates and blow it out of the water.
  • There seems to be a common misconception going around (see media sites CNN, Skift, International Business Times and Travel and Leisure for examples) that the exchange rate affects when and how people travel. As it turns out, that simply isn't the case.
  • U.S. consumers appear indiscriminatory towards the exchange rate when traveling.
  • In fact, some of the highest traveling years for United Statesians to Europe occurred when the U.S. exchange rate was worst.
  • Instead, reasons and number of visits must be dependent on others things as well which immensely decreases the influence an exchange rate has on travel habits.
Food for Thought:
Is the exchange rate one of the factors you consider when booking a trip overseas?
About the Author

Hank Martin

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Traveling for a world education and writing about the life lessons learned.

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