(Tim is a guest blogger from Cheapest Destinations.)
You’re not staying home this summer are you? For Americans, this is one of the best times in the modern age to travel internationally. The U.S. dollar is at a record high against many currencies and is strong almost everywhere in comparison to historic norms. This won’t last forever, of course. The rise is partly driven by a weak economy in Europe, partly by low prices for traded commodities such as oil. That low oil price is also keeping a lid on airfares, which have dropped substantially on most routes with competition. It’s becoming a little less costly to arrive, a lot less costly on the ground.
The cheap countries have gotten cheaper if you want to really stretch your travel dollar, with Colombia and Mexico being the current discount bin champs. The rise in exchange rates also means some popular, prime destinations are now on sale too though. Here’s a sampling of premium destinations that are now much easier on your travel budget.
One of the biggest currency drops against the greenback seems downright loonie. The Canadian dollar was on par with the U.S. one as recently as 2011, but now the exchange rate is 1.32 to 1. Most Canadian goods are normally more expensive because of higher taxes and labor costs, but now they don’t feel out of the ordinary. Explore the Canadian national parks, which are large and far less crowded than their counterparts to the south. Or really feel like you’re in a different culture by spending time in French-language Quebec.
For much of this decade, one greenback fetched around 1.2 New Zealand dollars. Since the summer of 2015, however, the exchange rate has been averaging 1.5 to the dollar. That means the majestic mountain scenery that served as a backdrop for Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies has gotten 25% less expensive to visit. Come for adventure activities, boat tours, and Maori culture by day, relax at upscale lodges with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc at night.
Source: No Limit Info Travel (Google+)
It’s unlikely that Japan will ever be called a bargain, especially if you look at gift boxes of perfectly shaped apples or the most acclaimed sushi restaurants aimed in Tokyo. You certainly get a lot more udon noodle bowls for your buck, however, than you did a few years ago. One dollar got less than 80 yen in 2012. Now one dollar gets 114 yen—a buying power increase of 40%. Just avoid the places aimed at expense account business travelers. Where normal working people eat and play the prices are surprisingly affordable these days.
Source: Japanese Ammo
The two favorite countries to put on the cover of a travel magazine will probably never have to resort to discounts to attract visitors. Even when it took $1.40 for one euro earlier this decade, Americans still flocked to Western Europe. With the euro hovering around $1.11 to the dollar now, however, that espresso and pastry on the square will cause less of a sting to your wallet. To get the most bang for your stronger buck, go for regional wine, fresh baguettes, seasonal produce, and small town inns. Avoid the crush of summer if possible, especially in Paris, Florence, or Rome.
Source: Foto Basa
Take a sputtering economy, an authoritarian leader, and a few random terrorist attacks and you’ve got one of the world’s greatest cities—Istanbul—on sale for half price. In the space of a few years the Turkish Lira has gone from 1.5 to the dollar to 3 and could drop more. All the historic sites cost half what they used to and you can enjoy delicious meals and desserts for far less.
The African continent’s most developed country for tourism has been pricey at times, but since the beginning of this decade the rand has gone from 7 to the dollar to 15. This has impacted the price of adventure excursions, wine tours, and fine dining. This may be the year to finally book that safari trip. Stay in some of the best lodges and city hotels in Africa for less and explore the dramatic big-waves coastline in both directions from Capetown.
Prices in Peru have steadily crept up as more tourists arrive and they stay at new luxury hotels opening regularly between Cusco and Machu Picchu. A rising dollar has pushed most rates back down though as the Peruvian sole has gone from 2.6 to the dollar in 2013 to 3.34 to the dollar today. Prices are especially great on local restaurants, making Lima’s gastronomy or the Sacred Valley’s hearty Andean cuisine more affordable. Stock up on reasonably priced handicrafts and woven alpaca scarves for gifts.
This is just a small sampling to consider, but know this: unless your dream destination is Switzerland, you’ll probably find prices better than they have been in a decade or more.
After reading this post, I'm sure you're itching to hop on the next plan to one of these affordable locations. DealsPlus frequently shares the hottest travel deals (#TravelTuesday every week!) so you can travel on the cheap!