Ask a Travel Nerd: What Does the Strong Dollar Mean for Summer Travel?

Amid the anxiety of inflation, U.S. travelers can take comfort that their dollar will go further abroad.
Sam Kemmis
By Sam Kemmis 
Edited by Meg Lee

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.


Believe it or not, the U.S. dollar has strengthened against many foreign currencies this year. Yes, the dollar has lost purchasing power in the face of inflation but has actually gained ground relative to other currencies.

The upshot: Summer travelers heading overseas could enjoy a discount on everything from hotel rooms to croissants.

The caveats: The exchange rate is much better in some countries than in others. And global inflationary pressures are still driving up prices overall.

If you’re still deciding where (and whether) to travel this summer, the strength of the dollar could be a deciding factor.

The dipping euro

The dollar was 11% stronger against the euro in April 2022 compared with April 2021, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The two currencies have been flirting with 1:1 parity, which hasn’t happened since the early 2000s. For the past 20 years, a dollar has been worth less than a euro.

Besides avoiding the headache of calculating the dollar cost of a 300 euro train ticket (it’s now about $300), this parity can make a big impact on European vacation budgets. Spending in countries that use the euro will be cheaper, in relative terms, than it has been in a long time.

Assuming exchange rates remain steady throughout the summer, this could mean hundreds of dollars in relative savings. They're “relative” because the absolute prices of expenses such as food and transportation will remain affected by global inflation.

Some changes are bigger than others

The U.S. dollar is strong against many foreign currencies this year, but not all. Converting dollars to Japanese yen yielded 16% better results in April than the year prior, but the Mexican peso and Canadian dollar have remained relatively flat.

Before packing your bags for Tokyo, remember that Japan is still restricting foreign visitors. As of June 10, 2022, people from certain countries — including the U.S. — can visit Japan as part of a package tour. Independent travelers are not yet welcome.

Note also that Canada and Mexico have seen little change in their currencies relative to the U.S. dollar in the past year. Despite this, U.S. travelers continue to flock to Mexico, with 31% more citizens heading south of the border in April 2022 compared with April 2019, according to data from the International Trade Administration.

U.S. vacationers remain wary of Europe, with 25% fewer departures for that continent in April 2022 compared with April 2019.

This situation provides a double-whammy opportunity for money-conscious travelers. The U.S. dollar is particularly powerful in Europe and fewer people are visiting, which could keep prices down for accommodations and other expenses.

These trends offer a compelling financial reason to skip Mexico for the time being.

Results may vary

Currency exchange rates fluctuate, which means that a good rate against one currency today won’t guarantee the same savings come vacation time. Given the especially volatile economic trends so far in 2022, the graphs above could invert in 12 months' time.

Still, the trends so far this year paint a rosy picture for Americans traveling abroad, especially to Europe and Asia. Putting a 10 euro German beer on your travel credit card will sting slightly less than usual knowing that it costs "only" about $10.

And given all the depressing news about prices this year, it’s nice to see at least one silver lining.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.