Tag Archives: budget

vineyards with snow-capped mountains in background Mendoza Argentina

9 Countries Where the U.S. Dollar Stretches Far in 2018

At the start of each year, as we ponder where to go next, a good question to ask is: Where is the U.S. dollar currently strongest?

Exchange rate is, of course, only one factor that determines the cost of a trip. Other factors include airfare, the length of the tourist season at your destination (the shorter the season, the higher the prices), whether the destination attracts more business travelers or vacationers (business-travel hubs are more expensive), how many hotels your destination has (since that determines the amount of hotel competition, which determines rates), and so on. The cost of traveling in a destination (and doing what travelers do there) can be very different from the cost of living in that destination (and doing what residents do there). Still, exchange rates are helpful indicators of how much you’ll spend when you are indeed doing those things that locals do—eating where they eat, shopping where they shop, taking public transit, and so on.

All you Europhiles should know that, at this moment, one U.S. dollar is worth .84 euros —the same exchange rate as three years ago. Sadly, the days of the U.S. dollar equating to .93 euros (2016 and 2017) seem to be gone for now. So where in the world is the U.S. dollar stronger than it was three years ago? Here are nine appealing travel ideas for you:


Argentina has been a fabulous value ever since the peso slid a whopping 30% back in 2015. Besides bargains, what else awaits you there? Read our Insider’s Guides to Buenos Aires and Mendoza wine country to find out.

Jan 2015: US $1 = 8.57 pesos
Jan 2018: US $1 = 18.66 pesos


The U.S. dollar and the Azerbaijani manat were at parity until December 2015, when the manat took a huge hit. Since then the U.S. dollar has bought twice as much as before. If you’re interested in an Azerbaijani adventure—and you should be—contact me because I’m interested too and have been investigating Azerbaijan trip-planning specialists to see who deserves a spot on The WOW List.

Jan 2015: US $1 = .78 manat
Jan 2018: US $1 = 1.70 manat


The U.S. dollar is near a 10-year high against the Mexican peso. Learn what’s unspoiled and up-and-coming in our Insider’s Guides to Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and the Riviera Maya.

Jan 2015: US $1 = 14.58 pesos
Jan 2018: US $1 = 19.10 pesos


Five to ten years ago, travel to and in Brazil was prohibitively expensive for most travelers; today it’s a whole other story. Learn what you’ll find there in our Insider’s Guides to the glamorous side of Rio de Janeiro, the charming seaside village of Trancoso, the otherworldly Brazilian Amazon, and, for the ultimate extravaganza, Five-Star Brazil: Best Things to See and Do.

Jan 2015: US $1 = 2.62 real
Jan 2018: US $1 = 3.21 real


Now is the moment to explore Colombia—while it’s still relatively under-the-radar and undeveloped. Here are reasons to go to Colombia pronto.

Jan 2015: $1 = 2,434 pesos
Jan 2018: $1 = 2,941 pesos

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom isn’t the bargain it was right after Brexit in 2016, when the pound hit a 31-year-old against the U.S. dollar—and, make no mistake, London is always an expensive city—but the U.K. is still a better deal now than it was for decades. Read our Insider’s Guide to London, as well as my son Charlie’s Do’s and Don’t for Your Trip to London, which he wrote in 2016 right after I jumped on the post-Brexit values and booked our family vacation there.

Jan 2015: $1 = .66 pounds
Jan 2018: $1 = .74 pounds


Malaysia was a better deal last year (when one U.S. dollar was worth 4.46 ringgit), but your dollar can still stretch far. Here’s what awaits you in Malaysia (and islands nearby).

Jan 2015: $1 = 3.57 ringgit
Jan 2018: $1 = 3.97 ringgit

South Africa

The rand lost 25% of its value three years ago. It still hasn’t fully recovered, so carpe diem. Here’s what awaits you in Cape Town and the Winelands, and here’s our Insider’s Guide to South African safaris.

Jan 2015: $1 = 11.44 rand
Jan 2018: $1 = 12.37 rand


Canada may not be the steal it was two years ago—when one U.S. dollar equated to 1.44 Canadian—but the greenback still goes far, especially if you remember the days when it was at parity with the loonie. To better appreciate the range of delights in Canada, read our Insider’s Guides to British Colombia and Newfoundland.  In 2015 I jumped on the amazing exchange rate and rushed my family to British Columbia for our summer vacation. You can read about a few of our adventures in We Had the Best Family Trip in Whistler and We Never Put on Skis and I Can’t Believe We Did This: Mountain Climbing in Whistler.

Jan 2015: $1 = 1.20 Canadian dollars
Jan 2018: $1 = 1.25 Canadian dollars

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Get Exotic Luxury For Less in Southeast Asia


Hi Wendy,

My wife and I are interested in how to do exotic luxury travel on a reduced budget.  We’ve enjoyed a lot of far-flung adventures over the years, but we just bought a new house, so our pockets are a little emptier than usual. We are absolutely craving a trip to Southeast Asia and are trying to figure out how to pull something off.





You’re in luck, Adam, because Southeast Asia is one of those parts of the world where your dollar stretches far. It’s chock full of spoil-you-rotten hotels with relatively affordable rates, thanks to the combination of a low cost of labor and a culture that values the art of hospitality.  Your dollar buys a lot at the non-luxury level too: Skyscanner just named Vietnam, Bali, and Cambodia three of the world’s 10 best-value vacation spots of 2014.

One of my favorite Southeast Asia travel planners, Andrea Ross of Journeys Within Tour Company, is expert at orchestrating luxurious yet affordable itineraries (and she even writes her own Southeast Asia travel blog).  Here’s her advice–and how she does it:

1. Find seasonal promotions. “Right now Four Seasons is offering some amazing summer specials,” says Andrea. “If you stay three nights at their Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand, you get two nights free at any of their other Thailand properties, including the Four Seasons Koh Samui beach property.  These deals won’t be available in high season, but if you don’t mind a little afternoon rain, or warmer temperatures, then going in shoulder season can be your best bet for getting luxury at a reasonable rate.”

2. Pepper your itinerary with boutique hotels that offer stellar service but also real value for the money. Andrea’s picks cost only $120 to $260 per night—hotels like Ariyasomvilla in Bangkok; 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Mekong Riverview in Luang Prabang, Laos; and Journeys Within Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. “These hotels are winning TripAdvisor awards and daily go above and beyond for their guests,” says Andrea.  “They also offer a window onto the history and culture of the locations they’re set in.”

3. Scrimp on your hotel in certain locations so you can splurge in locations where it matters more. “Splurge on your hotel at the beach, where you’re going to be spending more time in your room and using the hotel’s facilities. But when your schedule is packed and you’re going to be out and about—which is the case in Chiang Mai, which is a really fun town with lots of markets and restaurants and shopping—then luxury in your hotel isn’t necessary. In fact, often travelers in a luxury hotel will feel torn: They’ll want to get out and explore, but they’ll hesitate because they don’t want to leave the property.”

You can also read Andrea’s Insider’s Guide to Cambodia and her Insider’s Guide to Angkor Wat.

Who else has tips for getting exotic luxury on a budget in Southeast Asia?