Ah, the great "European vacation;" the last big rite of passage that privileged, predominately white Americans ages 17-27 often undertake as a last rumspringa before the doldrums of adulthood start to kick in.

For our nation's soul-searchers who just want to "take some time off before college/marriage/insert responsible adult behavior here," it's a beloved a pastime as baseball and not voting. And it's always been a pretty easy thing to do, considering that ever since America became America, our people have enjoyed the unencumbered right of visa-free travel to much of Europe. We've been allowed to run wild in their greener pastures, bedding their better-looking milkmaids, enjoying their progressive views and sampling their far-superior food as we flit from country to country hemorrhaging the last of our barmitzvah money in attempt to find ourselves.

But now, that wild ride is about to come to an end. Thanks to a decision by the European Union Parliament last week, Americans will no longer be able to visit Europe with ease or convenience.

Now, we'll need a visa. Not just for stays longer than three months, but for any duration of travel.

If you just uttered "Fuck" to yourself, you uttered right.

So, what does that mean for your soul-searching European backpacking trip in which you find yourself, instead of finding a job?

Only that you'll have to physically visit the embassy of your travel country order to get the required visa. And that's a tall task.

America is a big country. We have a lot of embassies located in a lot of different places. Getting to your embassy of choice might not be easy or affordable. In some cases, your visa-seeking travel alone might cost more than the your E.U. vacation itself, especially if you plan to visit more than one country. 

For example, say you want to see the beautiful landscape and groundbreaking architecture of Spain.

That's nice. If you live in Houston, Texas, where the Spanish embassy is located.

If not, you've got to get to Houston. You've got to pay for gas, a car, airfare, and/or a hotel.

Then you've got to pay for the visa. Most non-immigrant travel visas will run you about $160, which is a lot on its own, but can add up grotesquely if you want to pop around between countries.

Alternatively, if you don't like the weather down in big sky country, you can always buy yourself a ticket to Washington fucking D.C. where most of the E.U.'s consulates are located. Nice if you're an east-coaster; horrific if you live on the west side. Hope your dad is an oil baron and your mom is an aging supermodel who now rakes in funds thanks to the special salad cleaner she invented, because visa-acquistion is not cheap.

Why the extraordinary inconvenience, you ask? Why has the European Union stamped out your dreams of couch surfing your way across the Eastern Block?

Well in short, because America is an asshole.

The E.U. voted for the visa requirement in response our country's failure to adhere to a travel reciprocity program that was supposed to grant visa-free visits to America for citizens of five EU countries — Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania. Since we didn't honor our part of that deal, they're not honoring theirs. Fair enough.

Apparently, this is going into effect around May, but the Commission said it will likely wait at least until a E.U.-U..S meeting that's already planned for mid-June to try to work the long-standing issues out. That means that if our esteemed diplomats can figure out a solution, all will be well and you'll be able to take that photo in front of the Eiffel tower that you just know will make your ex want you back. However, seeing as said diplomats are actually just oil-industry CEOs with zero international relations experience, we wouldn't hold our breath.

All that said, restricting Americans visa-free travel to Europe is really not the best idea. Sure, it makes a statement that the E.U. thinks we suck, but it doesn't actually benefit anybody … even the E.U.

See, Europe is the largest overseas market for U.S. travelers. Each year, we fling almost 13 million men, women and children across the Atlantic at them, where they land and spend obscene amounts of their hard-earned money on Amsterdam hookers, French croissants and Polish … whatever you buy in Polands, flooding their economy with high exchange-rate money and ensuring good relations on both sides of the pond.

"It's not in anyone's interest to make it harder for Americans to travel to Europe," said Tom Hall, Lonely Planet editorial director to CNN. "The continent's travel industry — and that of the United Kingdom for that matter — will be hoping for strong visitor numbers from the U.S. to make the most of the advantages of the currency situation. For this reason, there's a long way to go until any changes to the visa regime come into force, if at all."

"It seems action could be one or two years away," said Jack Ezon of Ovation Travel, "But my advice is to never take visa-free travel for granted anywhere these days. Always check on the U.S. Department of State website for entry requirements anywhere you travel in the world."

Know what we think?

Fuck Europe. It's too expensive. It's too snooty.

It's time to move this party down south. Let's take these American couch-surfing-backpacking-identity-forming trip things we do to South America.

It's cheaper. It's more dangerous. There are more mosquitos. What more could you ask for?