With the dollar hitting highs not seen in over a decade against the Euro and the currencies of many other popular destinations, here are the eight best place to visit to take advantage of the strong dollar plus two places that just don’t measure up.
The Euro Zone
The ongoing problems with southern Eurozone countries, namely Greece, Spain and Portugal, have continued to add pressure to the Euro. As a result, the currency has fallen to a 12 year low against the dollar. Suddenly instead of a 35% premium, you are looking at 10%. Head south for true bargains – Portugal is an amazing deal with great food, beautiful architecture and an outgoing population that welcomes visitors. Spain and Italy, especially in the countryside, also represent solid bargains while Berlin remains among the cheapest cities in the Eurozone.
For some time, the Canadian dollar was actually stronger than the US dollar but that trend started to reverse itself in 2013. Now the USD is worth roughly 20% more against the Canadian dollar than even a year ago. While this is still lower than the historic high of 1.61 reached in 2002, it certainly means that visiting our neighbors to the north is cheaper than it has been in over six years. Might we recommend Vancouver or Montreal for your next sojourn?
After the peso hovered around 13 to the dollar for the past few years, Mexico’s currency has weakened to the mid 15s, meaning that the dollar can be up to 20% stronger than a year ago. While there has been violence in less traveled parts of the country and outside some Pacific resort towns, places like Mexico City, Oaxaca, and resorts in Cancun and the Yucatan remain safe and open for business. Our experiences in Mexico have been nothing less than terrific so take advantage of the strong dollar on your next visit.
Japan has long been one of the most expensive markets for American travelers but late last year its currency began a steady slide. Today, the dollar is about 25% stronger than a year ago, making Japan more affordable than it’s been since 2007. Japan will never be cheap but if it’s been on your list, now is a good time to make plans. Save even more by traveling in early spring 2016, before cherry blossom time, or in the fall when airfares are often as low as European flights.
Argentina hit travelers’ radar in the early 2000s when a stable government and booming economy lured visitors from around the globe. While never quite a bargain it was made out to be, the country provided good value for American visitors lured to the Paris of South America. Now, with the economy in turmoil, the peso has sunk ever lower, from about 4 to the dollar to 9. This means opportunity for the more adventurous traveler, even though visiting now means some challenges and things to watch out for. Among them, a resurgent black market where the dollar is worth more than at official rates – roughly 50% more. However, you do have to weigh the fact that you are taking part in illegal behavior and the government has been cracking down. To make matters worse, Americans must pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina to the tune of $160 – payment is in advance online at https://reciprocidad.provincianet.com.ar. Lastly, check to make sure the international departure fee of $29 has been included in your airline ticket or you’ll have to pay that at the airport as well. Still a destination to visit but approach Argentina with much more caution than five or ten years ago as poor economies mean more scams and criminal activity.
Scandinavia in general has long been considered one of the most expensive travel destinations in the world. Good news as the Swedish kroner has slipped 30% against the dollar. Even better, Swedish hotels have become increasingly cheaper – TripAdvisor surveyed hotel rates around the world and found that they have dropped 19% in Sweden this year.
The Australian dollar is another currency that has hit the doldrums in the last year, losing over 20% of its value. While the price of flights to the country have soared, you can take heart that a trip down under won’t break the bank once you make the long trek.
While recent events in Turkey signal the rumblings of political unrest, from anti-government protests to the recent election loss of the ruling party, Turkey still remains a top tier destination for foreign visitors. Right now you can take advantage of a struggling lira, down 30 – 40% in just one year. However, inflation rates are starting to rise so these savings may not last too long. If you go, take a look at our story on Istanbul.
Still Not a Bargain
The UK remains quite expensive and the dollar has made only limited inroads against the still overvalued pound. While a 10% bump over last year is nice, high prices throughout the country will continue to put a damper on Americans visiting. The recent election only served to strengthen the currency so it’s best to head straight to the continent.
We last visited this spectacular country around the time of the worldwide economic crisis. Iceland became ridiculously cheap in a matter of days, only to revalue their currency and stop the bargains from becoming too good for travelers. So how do things look seven years later? In 2008, you would get 50 – 60 ISK (Icelandic kroner) to the dollar and today it is more than double that, recently averaging over 130. However a review of two of our favorite meals – Vox and Lækjarbrekka – shows that prices have been adjusted to account for the poor performance of the kroner. In fact, both meals will cost you more than they did before the crisis. We loved our visit Reykjavik but with so many travel bargains around, we can’t recommend it for those looking to spend less.